Updated: Oct 8
Did you know nearly half the human body is comprised of water? The average adult is made up of 55-60% water and an infant's is nearly 75% water. Now that's a lot of water! Water plays a vital role in a variety of bodily functions, and because we lose a great deal of water through our sweat and urine, our lungs as we breathe, and our waste, it is important that we replenish those stores throughout the day and stay adequately hydrated.
Ever found yourself suddenly thirsty? While your thirst response can trigger you to drink more water, this is not always the best way to regulate water intakes. Shockingly, by the time our brain signals that thirst, we are often already experiencing slight (if not greater) dehydration, which impacts our body's ability to do its job efficiently and effectively. That is why maintaining proper hydration is such an important part of supporting our health and well-being, especially for those physically active.
Here are some of water's important jobs:
To support the body's ability to absorb, digest and transport nutrients
To create saliva
To help regulate body temperature
To support muscular energy
To moisturize skin (which happens to be the body's largest organ!!)
To support healthy kidney function
To support healthy digestive (aka bowel) function
To provide moisture to ear, nose and throat tissues
How much water is enough?
The Adequate Intake (AI) recommendations for females 19+ are 9 cups a day, for males it is 13 cups a day. While this is a great guide for the average person, it is also important to note that individual hydration needs can increase based on factors such as fluctuating temperatures, physical activity, injury, and illness.
Geez, that's a lot of water!
Good news, many adults get a large percentage of water from the foods they eat. Most fruits and vegetables are a good source of water as well as some animal meats. Just another great reason to incorporate lots of fruits and veggies and lean proteins in your daily diet! And of course sipping on good old water is great too.
Not a fan of plain old water? Try adding some fresh fruit, such as a slice of lemon, lime, and/or orange. Or throw in a few berries with some fresh sliced cucumber. Not only are these natural flavor enhancers, they will add a bit of nutrient benefit to your water too. Some people enjoy flavored low and zero calorie flavor enhancers (think squeezable shots of flavor or the powders you toss in your water bottle to shake and sip), these can also be an alternative for those who don't enjoy plain water or who are active and on the go. Like anything else, just be sure to read those nutrition labels for added sugars, salt, caffeine as well as other preservatives and additives that could turn that healthy helper into an unhealthy foe.
12 water rich foods to keep you hydrated:
Cucumbers - 96% water
Iceberg lettuce - 95% water
Celery - 95% water
Radishes - 95% water
Tomatoes - 94% water
Watermelon - 91% water
Spinach - 91% water
Strawberries - 91% water
Broccoli - 90% water
Baby carrots - 90% water
Grapefruit - 90% water
Cantaloupe - 90% water
Fun fact- almonds contain 5% water!
10 Tips to help keep you hydrated:
Set a goal for the day (Make a list and check it off as you go, success feels great!)
Make a soup, salad or smoothie (gain essential vitamins and minerals while you hydrate!)
DIY flavored ice cubes and popsicles (flavor-full and stay cool in hot and humid weather!)
Infuse your water with fruits, veggies, even herbs (hot or cold!)
Cut sports drinks and juices with 50% water (enjoy the flavor with half the calories and sugar!)
Invest in a fun water bottle (it will help you monitor your daily intake as you refill it throughout the day - supporting health while saving $, time, and the planet!)
Try a straw (t'll go down easier - studies show we actually drink more when using a straw!)
Sip at every meal (when you drink a beverage with your meal you help support healthy digestion, satiety power AND hydration!)
Set a reminder on your phone, pc, or tablet (alerts help remind us to stay on focused and on task, empowering us to achieve our goals!)
Drink before, during and after exercise (essential to prepare, perform and recover well!)
Bottom line - we get water through beverages, such as plain old tap water, coffee, teas, and flavored drinks as well as many foods we eat. While beverages are often considered the primary source for hydration it is important to consider the source, because not all drinks are created equal. Some beverages such as fruit juices, sodas, sports drinks, and vitamin enhanced or energy drinks for example, can be higher in sugar, salt and caffeine, and be loaded with preservatives and additives your body won't recognize (and can't use), which often negates the healthy hydration benefit. Keep it simple, enhance your water with in season flavors, consume fresh fruits and veggies throughout the day, and keep a water bottle nearby you can refill throughout the day to help keep your hydration on track.
Are you an ambitious man or woman who's ready to feel strong, live healthy, and get fit? Discover how to take small steps to get healthy & fit without cutting out the foods you love or spending countless hours on cardio. Come join me inside my online Facebook Community - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where ambitious folks go for the tips, tools and support they need to eat healthy, move daily, and feel good for life!