Hydration--beyond the basics
Almost everyone has heard that drinking water, especially during the summer months, can be a crucial component to maintaining health. Our bodies are made up of 70% of water and in the summer the added heat and activity can make us more prone to dehydration. When we are dehydrated the body can feel tired, fatigued, we can experience dry mouth, thirst and even dizziness. Although many people may know the basics of proper hydration, I wanted to highlight some additional symptoms that are not as commonly known. In addition, with proper hydration, you may be able to reach your nutrition related goals faster.
Do you feel bloated on a regular basis? Or do you feel your body retains water and by the end of the day you look puffy or swollen? Perhaps you need more water. When our water intake falls short our body calls for aldosterone and antidiuretic hormone to activate. This increases the reabsorption of water and sodium in the body and decrease the amount of water excreted in the body to compensate for poor hydration. Ultimately, the less water you consume the more bloated you can feel while your body holds on to more water weight. This is why many of my clients feel leaner and less bloated or puffy by simply increasing their water intake.
Trouble with Constipation?
Water plays a crucial role in supporting a healthy digestive tract. Many of the foods we eat contain ample amounts of water and if the body is dehydrated, the food that we eat will enter the large intestines and the body will reabsorb that water from our food to stay hydrated. This reabsorption will essentially dry out our food waste and can make it more difficult to pass stool through our digestive tract. This can ultimately lead towards constipation related symptoms and issues.
Trouble with dehydration and constipation can be very common when traveling. Have you ever noticed that the day of or even the day after a flight your body’s digestion changes? Do you feel more prone to constipation after flying? A likely reason for this is because the body tends to lose water through respiration twice as fast at higher altitudes. Even if the airplane is pressurized, the actual environment you are exposed to when in the air is still high enough to cause the body to lose water at a significant rate. In addition, it is more common for people to forget to adequately hydrate or they purposely drink less water while traveling. Both of these factors can leave the body at a higher risk of dehydration and constipation when traveling.
Trouble losing weight?
Most of us have heard basic information about calories, macronutrients and exercise when it comes to losing weight. But proper hydration is another key component to consider when trying to lose excess weight. First, it is common for an individual to feel hungry when in fact they are dehydrated. If you know you are eating enough food but still feel unsatisfied after a meal, perhaps drinking more water can help. Second, proper hydration can impact mitochondrial function which can increase our overall metabolism and make it more likely for an individual to see weight loss.
How much water do you need?
Now that you have learned about the additional benefits to proper hydration you may be wondering how much you need to drink. Evidence is still unclear as to the exact amount of water an individual needs but this may be related to many factors that can impact individual hydration needs. The food we eat, the environment we live in and the amount of daily activity we perform can all affect our hydration needs. When working with clients I always emphasize the need for proper hydration and I like to recommend that they consume no less than ½ their body weight in ounces of water. However, I usually push my clients to consume 100+ ounces per day for optimal results.
How to stay hydrated
Need ideas on how to add pizazz to your beverage choices without adding unnecessary sugar or calories? Try some of my favorite ways to flavor your water.
1. Cut up fresh fruits, vegetable and herbs to infuse. My favorite recipe: sliced strawberries, sliced lemon, sliced cucumber and fresh mint leaves. Steep for 12-24 hours.
2. Brew and steep your favorite herbal tea blend and poor over ice during those hot summer months. My favorite this time of year is a fruity flavor called berry hibiscus. I brew a large amount of the tea as indicated on the package and then poor into a glass filled with ice to instantly cool. Add more ice if needed and enjoy a mild fruity flavor drink.
3. Add a non-calorie, non-artificial sweetener electrolyte powder or tablet. My favorite to use are the the Nuun electrolyte tablets without caffeine. But my other recommendations include: Seeking health optimal electrolytes or Metagenics Endura.