Numerous studies have shown The Importance of Hydration. The human body is made up of approximately 60% water. Water brings nutrients to all the cells in our body. Our brains, muscles, joints, nerves and skin all need adequate water to function properly. For example, our muscles need water in order to contract (squeeze) correctly. Being properly hydrated allows them to work optimally and efficiently. Our kidneys filter waste out of our systems, but can only do that when we are properly hydrated. Our bladder needs water to move through it to clean out bacteria; not drinking enough water increases our risk of getting a urinary tract infection. Studies have also shown that our brains work better when we’re properly hydrated.
As an occupational therapist, something I’ve observed with a lot of my patients over the last 20 years is what I would call functional dehydration. While symptoms of true dehydration can include dizziness, confusion, weakness and low blood pressure, functional dehydration does not present as severely. However, it still impacts us nonetheless, sometimes in the form of pain! Naturally our muscles can hurt when they’re not getting adequate nutrition.
Different studies give differing recommendations on how much water we should drink every day; however, one thing they all agree on is that most of us do not drink enough! Some studies recommend drinking 64 ounces of water a day (~ 4 standard size water bottles). Other studies recommend drinking half our body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water per day. If you follow that logic, you need to be careful as too much water can flush out your electrolytes. When that occurs, our muscles and heart cannot work properly. That’s more apt to happen to someone who is obese, e.g. weighs 300 pounds and drinks 150 ounces of water/day, which is likely too much.
So to keep with the importance of hydration, in order to simplify things, aim for 64 ounces of water per day. If you participate in strenuous exercise or activity in the summer heat, make sure to have extra water to make up for the water you lose through perspiration. Keep in mind that if you consume caffeinated beverages, you should supplement with an additional 8 ounces of water for every 8 ounces of caffeine you drink.
It’s OK to add flavors to your water such as Crystal Light packets, fruit or chia seeds. It’s also OK to get some of your water intake from water-rich foods. The Cleveland Clinic lists the following foods as having high water content:
Cucumbers (98% water)
Celery (95% water)
Iceburg lettuce (95% water)
Zucchini (95% water)
Caulifower (92%) (water)
Watermelon (91% water)
Strawberries (91% water)
For more tips see our blog listings here.