The importance of hydration
An easy way to maintain your health is by maintaining proper hydration. Drinking enough water keeps your mind and body functioning at optimal performance.
Drinking water is important regardless of the temperature. Water helps regulate our bodies by helping digestion, regulating electrolytes (salt/potassium), providing cushioning for joints, and other important cellular activities.
The first thing to consider when figuring out how much water to drink is your activity level. Are you active or sedentary? Are you at high elevations (more than a mile high)? If you’re active or at high altitudes then you’ll need more water. But there is no one size fits all approach to how much water you should drink.
During the summer months, what is the right amount of water to drink to stay hydrated? I’ve heard 8 cups is best, I’ve seen people walking around with gallon water jugs, and people drinking when they feel thirsty.
According to the Mayo Clinic, men need 13 cups (104 oz) of water per day to be properly hydrated. Summer isn’t the only time proper hydration is important; winter’s cold weather can dehydrate a person as easily as a hot day. Because you’re not sweating doesn’t mean you don’t need to hydrate.
Total water intake can include other drinks including tea, coffee, and soft drinks. They do have a small dehydrating effect but when viewed in the total water intake, it balances out to a hydrating effect.
This doesn’t mean you can drink soft drinks all day and be properly hydrated, you won’t. You have to drink water to balance it out.
According to a water absorption study in 2012, it takes 20-30 minutes after drinking 10 oz water for that water to enter your bloodstream. This tells us that if you want to space out your 13 cups of water per day goal, drinking a cup of water every 30 minutes. This can help prevent you from drinking too much water (urine will be clear) or becoming dehydrated.
Dehydration can lead to dizziness and confusion (heat syncope), things you don’t want to happen when you’re mowing the lawn, driving a car, or hiking in the woods/mountains.
Water can help with mental alertness. The brain needs a lot of water for moving nutrients in and waste products out. When you’re properly hydrated your brain is maintaining proper flow nutrients, maintaining alertness.
How to tell if you’re drinking enough water
If you’re thirsty, then drink water. Simple enough. If you’re not feeling alert or you have a lack of concentration, it may be caused by dehydration. There are urine color indicators for those of us who don’t feel thirsty often.
Urine color is a good indicator of water intake. Pale straw – transparent yellow is the goal. Clear urine may indicate you’re drinking too much water and darker amber colored urine may indicate you’re not drinking enough water.
When it comes down to how much water you should drink you can follow 2 tips:
- Drink when you’re thirsty
- Drink water when you’re hungry (there is weak evidence to support for thirst being mistaken for hunger), if you’re not drinking enough water then it wouldn’t be a negative thing to drink a cup of water.
If you have sign/symptoms of dehydration and they persist after drinking plenty of water, please contact a health care provider for medical attention.