I start my day off with home-brewed kombucha, sip on lemon water and ginger tea throughout the day, and on Fridays, I end my day with a glass or two of wine to celebrate Wine Friday (an official holiday in our apartment).
Walking around a hospital, I see a different story. There’s extra-large coffees (with cream & sugar) in hand, Coke or Diet Coke, Red Bull, juice… It’s even crazier when you think it’s these sugar-filled, caffeine-fueled residents that are taking care of the patients. The patients get IVs and stay well-hydrated, but the caregivers are chronically dehydrated.
Our bodies are 60-70% water, and each cell relies on water to stay hydrated and work optimally. The problem is we don’t drink enough water AND we’re dehydrating our bodies with excess caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.
We use water to keep our biochemical cellular systems working at top-notch, keep things moving out of our body, eliminating wastes, maintaining energy, and controlling blood pressure.
“Okay, so I’ll drink my 8 glasses of water per day.”
Good start, but 8-a-day isn’t a cure-all. Consider your environment and lifestyle. Are you living in Miami or Boston? Is it winter or summer? Are you doing intense workouts or sitting on the coach? Hydration needs change with the season and your activity level. The runner preparing for Boston Marathon (hopefully, it isn’t 90 degrees out again!) needs a lot more water (and electrolytes) than the person watching a Game of Thrones marathon.
Next, look at the foods and beverages that are destroying your hydration goals. You may be drinking 8+ glasses of water per day, but if you’re also chugging down cups of coffee, energy drinks, sodas, or alcohol, you’re going to dehydrate your cells right out. Ask yourself why you are choosing these drinks. Are you drinking coffee because you love the warming beverage each morning, or are you relying on it to keep you awake during the day? If your answer leans towards addiction, you may want to consider weaning back on coffee. You know how I feel about sugar, so challenge yourself and get the dangerous energy drinks and soda out of your day.
Make a change.
Change one thing the first week. If you drink a soda with lunch, choose seltzer water or tea instead. If you don’t drink anything during the day, go buy yourself a BPA-free water bottle and get started. Your hydration needs are individual, so drink as necessary. If your urine is clear to light yellow, your cells are hydrated and happy. You don’t need to go overboard and chug down 5 water bottles a day – overhydration is dangerous too.
“But, I don’t like water.”
Then, learn to like it. Seriously, you can learn to like H20. When you making the switch from sweet drinks to water, it may be a serious change. Ease the transition by trying flavored seltzer waters or adding lemon or lime wedges to your glass. If you miss juice, add a splash of juice to a glass of water. Try different teas – green tea is an antioxidant powerhouse, and herbal teas come in so many wonderful flavors.
“It’s okay, my drink is sugar-free.”
Sugar-free is awesome, but for those diet drinkers out there, I don’t recommend artificial sweeteners. It may seem like a healthy choice to choose Splenda over white sugar, but these little pink and yellow packets are not as sweet as they appear. First, off they come from a lab. Strike one. They rewire our taste buds to crave the sweet taste. One recent study found that in over 60,000 women, the risk of developing diabetes was HIGHER in diet drinkers than regular soda drinkers. The artificial sweeteners still cause insulin secretion and likely other negative health effects. If you want a little sweetness in your coffee or tea, add a little bit of honey instead. Stevia (NOT Truvia) comes from a plant and appears to be a safe sweetener too.
What about alcohol?
Yes, alcohol is dehydrating, but don’t dismiss it completely, if you like to enjoy a drink with friends. Red wine is very antioxidant-rich, so enjoy a glass or two, but drink a glass of water in between.
Lastly, you may want to consider using a filter for your tap water. If you’re going to take the effort to stay well-hydrated, then you might as well drink the cleanest water you can.
Are you well-hydrated? Or do you need to make a few hydration changes?