Did you know that water makes up approximately 60% of your body weight? Your body depends on it for survival as every cell, tissue and organ needs it to properly function. But are you really getting enough? Are there ways to make hydrating more fun?
Before we dive into how to hydrate, you should understand why it’s important. Hydration is key in helping your body:
- Excrete waste through urination, perspiration and bowel movements
- Control temperature
- Lubricate joints
- Carry nutrients and oxygen to your cells
- Aid in digestion
- Maintain normal blood pressure
- Stabilize heartbeat
- Maintain electrolyte balance
- Protect organs and tissues
Some factors that may influence how much water your body needs include:
- Overall health status
If your body doesn’t receive adequate hydration, you may start to feel symptoms of dehydration, such as thirst, flushed skin, fatigue, increased body temperature, increased breathing rate/pulse, dizziness, weakness and labored breathing.
How Much Fluid Do You Really Need?
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine:
- About 15.5 cups of fluid for men
- About 11.5 cups of fluid for women
These recommendations include ALL fluids found in water, beverages and food. The typical advice stands correct … if you are an average healthy adult, eight cups of water a day is reasonable in addition to your normal meals and snacks.
While all fluid counts toward your hydration status, choosing water over sugary drinks can reduce your risk of becoming overweight and developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
How Do I Know if I am Hydrated?
If you drink when you are thirsty, and your urine is a light yellow or colorless then your fluid intake is likely adequate. Every person is different, but by working with your doctor or dietitian you can determine what level of fluid intake is adequate for your health condition and activity level.
Flavoring Can Be Fun
The ideas of ways to flavor your water are endless. Here is a simple one to get your juices flowing:
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup sliced cucumbers
2 sliced limes
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
64 ounces of water
In a 2-quart pitcher, layer the strawberries, cucumbers, limes and mint leaves with the ice cubes. Fill pitcher with water. Let chill for 10 minutes and enjoy!
Other fruits, vegetables and herbs add great flavor. Try different combinations. You may need to muddle or gently press some of these to release the flavor, and the longer you let the water infuse, the more flavor you’ll experience.
- Berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
- Citrus fruits (lemons, oranges)
- Veggies (cucumbers, celery)
- Fruits (kiwi, pineapple, mango, watermelon)
- Herbs (mint, basil, ginger)
Join the conversation. What do you add to your water to add flavor? How else do you stay hydrated?
Guest Blogger: Molly Vita MS, RD, LDN, Oncology Dietitian, Simonds-Sinon Regional Cancer Center, UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital