Are you drinking enough water?
If you’re not drinking enough water, you could end up with excess body fat, digestive issues, decreased energy, a build-up of toxins in your body, and a whole host of additional complications and disease. Trust me, you don’t want that.
The good news is that these symptoms can be easily addressed by incorporating more water into your diet, and I will show you how. But first, it’s important to understand exactly why your body is unable to function without water.
Water is the foundation of life, and it is essential to human health.
Did you know that the human body consists of 75% water? And that the human brain is made up of 85% water?
Nearly every bodily function depends on adequate fluid levels in the body. Water helps to maintain those fluids and thus plays a critical role in the following functions:
- Transporting nutrients
- Regulating body temperature
- Removing toxins from our body
- Lubricating and protecting our joints
In fact, there isn’t a single bodily function – from seeing, hearing and thinking to running, sleeping and growing – that does not depend on water. In order for the body to continue functioning, the fluids that are lost as a result of these normal, daily functions must be replaced.
And yet, most of us are not drinking nearly enough water each day.
Do you suffer from frequent headaches? Dehydration is most likely the cause.
Do you ever feel tired or sluggish in the afternoon? Chances are your lack of energy is due to dehydration.
Have you been trying to lose weight, but not seeing any results? Or maybe you feel bloated on a regular basis? There is a good chance your body is retaining water because you are not giving it enough.
We are literally crowding water out of our diet on a daily basis, and are doing so at a significant cost to our health.
What are we drinking instead? Soda. Coffee. Tea. Juice. Alcohol. Sound familiar? Although these are in fact fluids and you may feel that they satisfy your thirst, they are not the same as water. Not even close. In fact, soda, coffee, tea and alcohol can actually contribute to dehydration.
How can you tell if you are not drinking enough water?
While it may seem obvious that you should drink water when you feel thirsty, did you know that thirst is often a poor gauge of our body’s need for water? And that by the time you feel thirsty, you are already well on your way to becoming dehydrated? The sensation of a dry mouth is actually the very last sign of dehydration. In addition to thirst and a dry mouth, there are many other lesser known signs of mild to moderate dehydration that you must pay attention to as well, including:
- Sleepiness or tiredness
- Loss of energy
- Dry skin
- Decreased urine output
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Irritability and confusion in adults; extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children
In many cases, our hunger pangs are actually just messages from our body that it needs more water.
In addition to the symptoms outlined above, hunger is a common side effect of dehydration. Because water is obtained through various foods we eat including fruits and vegetables, our body signals its need for water via both thirst and hunger cues. These cues are often misread, and in many cases it is in fact water that your body desires, not food.
If ignored, the mild to moderate symptoms of dehydration outlined above can become severe.
In his book Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, Dr. F. Batmanghelidj writes that “Chronic and persistently increasing dehydration is the root cause of almost all currently encountered major diseases of the human body.” Dr. Batmanghelidj goes on to write that there is a direct connection between chronic dehydration and numerous diseases including dyspeptic pain (heartburn, hernias, ulcers, etc.), rheumatoid arthritis pains, Alzheimer’s disease, neck and back pain, migraine headaches, depression, asthma and allergies, and many more. His book is filled with detailed testimonials from patients describing symptoms and diseases that were completely reversed simply by increasing their water intake. It is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.
If you have experienced any of the symptoms outlined above, your body needs more water!
Are you ready to make a change to your daily routine and quench your thirst? One of the biggest questions I get asked is “How much water should I be drinking each day?”
The truth is that there is a lot of debate about this. The recommended amount varies depending on your level of physical activity, the climate in which you live, your age and your overall health. As a general guide, I suggest that you drink at least 48 to 64 ounces of water each day. (Please note that any beverages you drink other than water do not count toward this goal!)
I also recommend that you limit your water consumption to six ounces with your meal (too much water will interfere with proper digestion), and that you avoid drinking too much water late in the day (because as we all know, multiple trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night not only results in unsightly circles under our eyes, but also makes for a very grouchy spouse!) Finally, it is important to drink additional water before, during and after any physical activity that involves sweating.
How can you incorporate more water into your diet? Here are some simple and easy to implement suggestions:
- Begin your day with a glass of water. Drinking a glass first thing in the morning will help you replace fluids that were lost during the night. I love drinking warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. Not only is it an easy way to sneak in an extra glass of water, it tastes great, warms your body, and is an excellent way to improve your digestion, support your immune system, and clear your skin.
- Get in the habit of carrying water with you wherever you go. I personally love glass water bottles because they do not add a chemical or metal taste to my water. I especially love bottles that feature a wide mouth, like this one, because it makes it much easier to add ice and/or sliced fruit. Choose a bottle you love and take it with you every time you leave the house.
- Grab a glass of water the next time you feel hungry. As noted above, hunger pangs are often just messages from our body that it needs more water. If you begin to feel hungry between meals, drink 8 ounces of water. Wait 20 minutes, and if you’re still hungry then grab a healthy snack. Chances are, the water will have curbed your hunger pangs and you’ll no longer feel the need to have a snack to tide you over to your next meal.
- Drink a glass of water 30 minutes prior to each meal. Not only will this ensure that your body is properly hydrated for optimal digestion, it will also help curb your appetite if you are trying to lose weight.
- Add sliced fruit to your water. If filtered water is too plain for your taste, feel free to jazz it up with your favorite citrus slices.
- Pay attention to the temperature of the water you’re drinking. While it is true that cold water can be more quickly absorbed from the stomach and is a good choice following physical activity, you do not have to drink cold water if it isn’t palatable to you. Water at room temperature can be just as hydrating, as can a mug of hot water if you’re looking for something to warm you at the same time. Experiment to find out what temperature you like best. It will help you meet your daily goal.
- Keep a journal of the amount of water you drink each day for one week. Look for patterns. Are there specific times of day when you are neglecting to drink? Are you remembering to drink between meals? Are you spacing your water consumption throughout the day? Identify any patterns and address them.
- Remember that water is just as important now as it was during the summer. Dry air from heating systems and changes in humidity during the winter mean that you must continue to stay on top of your hydration or you’ll face dry skin, hunger, and reduced energy.
Which steps will you incorporate this week to increase your water consumption? Do you have any suggestions to add to the list above?