Are You Getting Enough Water?
Water plays a key role in regulating temperature, blood pressure, digestion, metabolizing proteins and carbohydrates in food, keeping our joints lubricated, and moving nutrients and oxygen to our cells. It acts as an insulator for our all-important organs, brain, and spinal cord; and even provides a cushion for a growing fetus during pregnancy.
The adult human body is actually roughly 50% water, with women’s bodies averaging about 55% and men a little higher at 60%. Infants and children are at an even higher percentage at 75% water in a cute little package.
Water is the foundation of everything we are and everything we do. It keeps our bodies and minds running like a finely tuned machine. Are you getting enough water? How can you tell?
Not Just From a Glass: What Counts as Water?
If you struggle with remembering to drink enough liquids or really just dislike plain water, you can always load up your plate with water-rich vegetables. Foods high in water content like cucumbers, soups, salads, and watermelon are all taken into account when it comes to daily fluid intake.
To start each day on the best foot, we recommend that you skip the dehydrating coffee and sip a glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon instead. Here’s why.
You can also try little life hacks like making meals like lasagna with zoodles (zucchini noodles) instead of pasta. Veggies like zucchini are up to 90% water, and are a tasty way to get enough liquids. Prefer pasta? Try adding water-rich spinach to your turkey sandwich, or enjoying it with a side of broth-based soup.
When it comes to drinks, at Mind Body Spine, we recommend that patients minimize or completely stay away from sugary drinks like juice, soda, and alcohol; since sugars are harmful to your health.
If you do want to enjoy a beer or cocktail, try to follow the one-to-one rule. For every alcoholic beverage you consume, follow it by drinking at least one cup of water.
Nutritional advice is part of our balanced chiropractic approach, and we’re glad to answer any questions you might have about the best foods to choose for optimum nutrition and hydration.
How Much Water is Enough?
What we hear most often is that we should be drinking eight glasses of water a day. But that’s not entirely accurate. The old eight glasses rule is really just a guideline and rough estimate. Everyone is truly unique, so your recommended intake is going to be different than that of your spouse or your neighbour.
Depending on your height, weight, age, and even the climate you’re in, you’ll need more/less than the standard eight glasses. During warmer months and in warmer climates, it’s important to replenish lost fluids more frequently. And it’s important to note that perspiration and breathing rates increase during exercise, so a higher volume of water will need to be replenished on days you have an increase in physical activity.
Instead of struggling to pound back glass after glass throughout the day, aim for 30-50 ounces each day, more if you’re feeling under the weather. You can likely get away with less, however, if you’re getting plenty of those water-rich fruits and veggies.
Another way to make sure you’re drinking enough water is to keep a filled water bottle by the front door so you can easily grab it and go. You can even get one that’s labelled with time markers and goal lines to show you how much you’re actually getting and to help build the habit of sipping throughout the day.
If you have any doubt about whether you’re getting enough water, try using the colour of your urine as a guide. Normal urine should be light coloured, the tone of pale straw. If it’s lighter than this, it could mean that you’re drinking too much water. Anything darker or a different colour can indicate dehydration or disease. Always consult your physician if you have any concerns.
Can You Drink Too Much Water?
It is possible to overdo it. According to an article in Time Magazine that addresses the question of attaining optimum hydration, it’s not enough to just drink water all day long, since “plain water has a tendency to slip right through the human digestive system when not accompanied by food or nutrients.”
The article explains that water should be sipped gradually throughout the day to avoid overloading the kidneys. A good practice is to drink water when eating, rather than just consuming water on an empty stomach. The article also cautions that too much water can lead to a sodium imbalance in the body, called hyponatremia. This generally applies to serious athletes and those who enjoy long, intense workouts.
Activity level is another key factor for hydration. During exercise you sweat and breathe harder. Since sweat is almost pure water, you need more water to replenish your body’s stores. If you’ve just finished a hard uphill bike ride, you’ll need more to drink than if you went for a casual stroll.
Did you know that by the time we feel thirsty, we’ve lost about 3% of the water in our bodies? Take note when you feel thirsty and recognize that as your body needing fluids right away. If you’re even slightly dehydrated, your body won’t be able to function at full capacity. You might experience fatigue, confusion, brain fog, and headaches.
If you’ve become dehydrated, take small frequent sips of water until you start to feel better. Needless to say, it’s important to get enough fluids for optimum health, both inside and out.
Tips for Getting Enough Water:
- Keep a filled water bottle handy
- Eat plenty of water-rich vegetables and fruits
- Sip slowly, avoid gulping down glasses of water all at once
- Drink when you eat, instead of just drinking water on an empty stomach
The suggestions and advice provided by Dr. Louie should not be relied upon in place of a chiropractic professional assessment. It’s worth mentioning that if you are on any medications that may make you retain water as a side effect (eg. opiates, antidepressants, and NSAIDs) you might need to adjust accordingly. If in doubt, check with your doctor to see if you’re getting the right amount of fluids.