June 23rd was National Hydration Day!
“Do you drink enough water?”
This is a question I ask every patient during a new patient evaluation in my job as a physical therapist. The responses usually fall into one of three categories:
- Patient: “Of course I do!”
Me: “How much are you drinking?”
Patient: “1 or 2 of those plastic water bottles a day.”
- Patient: “Probably not, but I don’t know how much to be drinking.”
- Patient: “Definitely not, I hate water. Why do I need to drink it?”
Let’s talk first of all about how much water we should be drinking, then, shall we?
How much water is enough?
The old standard was 8 servings of 8 oz glasses of water daily. This is easy to remember, but I prefer the recommendation based on body weight: half your body weight in ounces. With the previous standard, the recommendation was the same for a 100 lb person as for a 200 lb person; 64 oz per day. The new standard demonstrates the difference in how much these 2 people need: 50 oz verses 100 oz daily.
We also need to take into account is activity. If you’re spending time outside in the Texas heat, you should be drinking even more of this life-giving liquid!
Some other considerations for increased intake would be amount of caffeine intake, as caffeine is a diuretic (makes you lose fluid). The general recommendation is that for every caffeinated beverage, replace with another serving of water. If you’re breastfeeding, you need to be drinking much more water! If you’re experiencing any other signs of dehydration, including lightheadedness, yellow or decreased urine, fatigue, headache… drink more water! And finally, if you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so… drink more water!
Why do I need to drink more water?
There are so many benefits to drinking more water.
-Maintains proper balance of fluids in your body — as we’ve all heard before, we’re made of approximately 60%, H20, so we need a lot of it! Sports drinks, like gatorade, provide helpful electrolytes for when you’re sick or being very active in a hot environment, but otherwise, water will get you where you need to be!
-Improves metabolism and calorie burn
-Can decrease hunger, as so often when we feel hungry we are actually thirsty
-Along the same lines, if you drink water instead of other drinks, you consume fewer calories. Sugary drinks, including juice, are some of the sneakiest forms of extra calories in our diet!
-Saves money — drinking water, rather than soft drinks or your beverage of choice, at restaurants, will save you $3 or more per person, per meal when eating out.
-Can decrease body aches and pains — this is a big one I see with people with low back pain!
-Improve headaches caused by dehydration
-Improve skin — improve color and texture, improved temperature regulation through sweating
-Improved mood — this goes along with headaches and pain, but dehydration can also cause brain fog and mood swings!
-Can improve regularity of bowel movements — this is especially true for some young kids who are constipated, they may be in need of better hydration
-If you’re breastfeeding — drinking more water is one of the best ways to improve supply
-If you’re pregnant — drinking more water can decrease braxton-hicks contractions, decrease nausea, fatigue, and many other typical pregnancy discomforts
-Can decrease risk of cancer! Those who drink at least 8 glasses daily were found to have less than 1/4th the risk of developing colon cancer compared to those who did not meet this guideline
How can I get more water in?
Some of the easiest ways to drink more include:
-Set a goal. Use an app on your phone to remind you to drink every hour.
-Have a water bottle with you wherever you go. Increased availability = increased intake!
-Try adding some fresh fruit or veggies to the water for a little flavor boost without any added sugar or chemicals.
-Take a bottle with you in the car, and make it your goal to finish it before you arrive at your destination.