All living creatures need water – humans are no exception!
Water is needed for all metabolism processes. Water keeps your cells alive, regulates body temperature, removes waste products (especially byproducts of fat breakdown), and acts as a lubricant around your joints, brain and spinal cord.
Water also helps in general regulatory processes, which can assist in differentiating thirst from hunger. Over 50% of the body is water, which means in the same way gas is needed to help a car run, water is needed to help a body run. Water is really important to the human body functioning!
In addition to general health needs, athletes need water for performance. As little as 2% dehydration can lead to diminished performance.
Most people need a minimum of 80 ounces of water a day, but really the best way to determine if you are hydrated enough is to look at your urine (super fun, right?) The goal is for a light yellow color. If you drastically increase your water intake, you’ll likely pee a lot in the beginning, but that will regulate over time as your body gets used to your increased water intake.
The best way to properly hydrate yourself is to drink actual water. Though some hydration can come from the food you eat, the majority of hydration comes from plain old water.
To assist in maintaining proper hydration it’s a good idea to have water available easily. Keep a bottle on your desk, a cup in your bathroom or bedside table, and start your day with at least eight ounces before you even have coffee. Carry a water bottle with you, bring one in the car, drink a big glass of water with every meal (it also will help you feel full faster and longer), get a big jug and write times on it, refill every time you go to the bathroom, or set reminders on your phone.
Don’t like plain water? Try flavoring it with fresh fruit or vegetables – switch up the taste by adding mint, cucumber, strawberries, lemons or oranges. If you really hate water, adding a splash of juice can help, but be very careful about how much sugar you end up consuming!
You can also try sparkling water, there are several brands out there with a flavor that is sure to please your taste buds! This is especially great if you are trying to overcome a sugar/soda addiction. Replace a can of soda a day with a can of sparkling water to get you started.
Also, drinks with caffeine do not count in your daily water consumption! Caffeine is a diuretic which actually pulls water from the body. Same goes for alcohol – that doesn’t count for your daily water consumption either! If you use alcohol as a form of stress relief, try exercise instead.