Drinking water does more than quench your thirst. Our bodies are about 60% water so, naturally, staying hydrated is good for our health. Water helps regulate your body temperature, carry nutrients and oxygen throughout your body, flush out waste, protect your organs, and keep your joints moving smoothly. Our bodies lose water through everyday activities. We need to replace this daily by drinking enough water. Being out in the heat can cause you to lose more water as your body tries to keep cool. That’s why you need to drink plenty of water throughout the summer months.
What are the effects of dehydration?
You may get dehydrated if you lose more water than you are taking in. Even mild dehydration can cause headaches. Other symptoms include fatigue, dizziness and confusion, and extreme thirst. Many symptoms of dehydration may not appear until you’ve lost quite a bit of water. Your best bet is to be proactive and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Seek immediate medical help if you feel dizzy or confused. If you’re going for a swim, make sure to stay hydrated to avoid muscle cramps.
How much water is enough?
There’s no magic number. Everyone’s needs are different. It also depends on whether you’re outside on a hot day or doing something that makes you sweat.
The bottom line: Drink up when you’re thirsty, and drink more when you’re sweating. The recommended daily water intake varies from person-to-person, but the general rule, according to health authorities, is to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (with a glass being 8 fluid ounces).
Try these tips to get more water into your body:
- Add flavor to your water. Try tossing in some fresh fruit like strawberries, lemon or lime. Or spice things up with cucumber slices and herbs like basil, mint or lavender.
- Water-down sugary drinks. If you’re craving some sweetness, add water and a good amount of ice to juice, lemonade, or iced tea.
- Choose sparkling water over soda. Want the bubbles but not the sugar shock? Sparkling water has zero calories.
- Eat foods that have lots of water. Top picks include cucumber (96% water), zucchini (95% water), watermelon (92% water), and grapefruit (91% water).
- Feeling hungry? Drink first. Try some water before you reach for a snack. Your body may have confused being hungry with being thirsty.
- Carry a reusable water bottle. And refill it often. Bottles marked with ounces can help you keep track of how much you’re drinking each day. Plus, they're much better for the environment thn single-use plastic bottles.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after a workout. The American Council on Exercise has some guidelines.