Your 6-Step Guide To Optimal Hydration

Your 6-Step Guide To Optimal Hydration

Despite how integral water is to overall health, a high percentage of people are regularly in a mild state of dehydration. Water helps regulate body temperature, prevent infections, keep joints lubricated, and maintain proper organ function. When the body is properly hydrated, you are able to sleep better and improve overall mood and cognitive function. Adults who don’t drink enough water may age faster and face a higher risk of developing chronic diseases. 

In order to stay hydrated, the clear solution is to drink more water. That is a seemingly easy solution, yet many people find it difficult to drink the right amount of water every day. In general, health experts recommend drinking about 50% of your bodyweight in ounces of water per day. If you weigh 160 pounds, aim to drink between 70-80 ounces of hydrating fluids per day. You can adjust that amount based on activity levels. 

The Importance Of Hydration

Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University found that mild dehydration can impair cognitive performance. Mild dehydration can be as little as losing one to two percent of the body’s water content. This contrasts the previous belief that a person needed to have a two percent or greater body water deficit to see these cognitive effects. In addition to the cognitive benefits of water, one can also experience decreased joint pain when optimally hydrated. Cartilage in the joints contains about 80% water, so daily hydration helps lubricate the joints, reducing friction by creating cushion between bones. 

A 2020 study from Japan found that increasing daily water intake provided several benefits, including blood pressure regulation and kidney protection. Proper hydration may also dilute blood waste material and stabilize heartbeat. Research also indicates that drinking water helps the body produce sweat when overheated during activity. That cools the body down, which is an integral mechanism that helps prevent heat stroke and other heat-related conditions. Basically, staying hydrated helps the body maintain its everyday processes, so read on to learn how you can stay properly hydrated.

Drink Enough Water

If you want to hydrate the body, then you have to start with water, although water isn’t the only factor involved with hydration. As mentioned earlier in the article, you should aim to drink 50% of your bodyweight in ounces of water or hydrating fluids each day. The amount of fluids that you intake is just as important as the amount of fluids you lose. If you exercise or go outside on a hot day, you’ll lose more fluids than if you were to just sit at your desk. In those situations, you need to drink more water. You can also look at your urine as an indicator for hydration. Dark yellow means that you are in desperate need of fluids! Ideally, your urine should be very light yellow to clear. 

Balance Your Electrolytes

In addition to drinking more water, you also have to consume magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium, all of which are electrolytes. You can get these nutrients via fruits and vegetables, which we’ll detail in the next point. Fruits and vegetables work to combat electrolyte imbalance, which in turn aids your hydration efforts. Nowadays, though, there are many electrolyte beverages, including sports drinks and powders. Some powders are highly beneficial and contain a balanced mix of electrolytes, while others are rich in processed ingredients and added sugars. When you add electrolytes to your water, you actually reduce the amount of fluid necessary to consume during the day. This is excellent news if you plan to exercise or be outside on a hot day.

Eat More Fruits And Vegetables

Many fruits and vegetables can aid hydration efforts because they are naturally rich in water and electrolytes. One study examined the contribution fruits and vegetables had on children. Researchers noted the dietary records and urine samples of 442 school children and found that regular intake of fruits and vegetables improved hydration status. Some of the best hydrating fruits and vegetables you can eat include:

  • Watermelon
  • Kiwi
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Berries
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Pineapple
  • Radish
  • Citrus fruit
  • Broccoli
  • Grapes
  • Carrots
  • Avocado

Consume Sea Salt

Whenever you use salt, try to use Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt, as opposed to regular table salt. Sea salt exhibits a long list of benefits, many of which center around hydration. When you drink water, you also need to consume sodium and potassium. In fact, research shows that sodium and potassium enhance hydration efforts. Unlike table salt, sea salt helps the body balance water and potassium levels because of the sodium content. Sea salt also works to alkalize the body.

Avoid Dehydrating Beverages

Dehydrating beverages are very enticing, and many people are powerless to them. These dehydrating drinks include coffee, alcohol, sugary sodas and fruit juices, and energy drinks. They increase urination and electrolyte loss, which can quickly lead to dehydration if you don’t do your part to hydrate with the right beverages and foods. Sugary sodas or artificially sweetened juices can increase the risk of inflammation and other side effects like brain fog, headaches, and blood sugar fluctuations. 

Don’t Forget To Exercise

It may seem counterintuitive to exercise for hydration because that can cause the body to lose water. According to research, physical exercise increases circulation and improves electrolyte levels. Movement also delivers more nutrients to your cells. Any form of movement can support these processes, whether you engage in strength, cardiovascular, or interval training. You can even go for a walk, practice yoga, or dance to your favorite music!

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