When it comes to health and wellness, most of us spend a lot of time thinking about what to eat but the truth is we should spend just as much time thinking about what (and how much) we drink.
Proper hydration is fundamental to good health since our bodies “run” on water. From waste removal to joint lubrication to temperature regulation, our bodies cannot function for long without water.
But with so many “healthy” sports and energy drinks available--- purportedly backed by research and science -- it’s easy to make the wrong choice when it comes to keeping hydrated, which is why we advise our clients to keep it simple and reach for water if they want to achieve optimum health and wellness.
How Much Water is Enough?
The standard advice is to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Remember, though, this is a general recommendation and different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated.
Some people are at a higher risk for dehydration if, for example, they participate in high-intensity exercise, or exercise outside during hot weather, and should adjust their water consumption accordingly.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women are more susceptible to dehydration, as are older persons since our brains can become less efficient at sensing and sending thirst signals as we age.
Other factors affecting how much water we should drink include illnesses that cause diarrhea, vomiting or fever, and kidney stones and bladder infections that can cause dehydration.
Can Fruit Juices and Other Drinks Keep Me Hydrated?
Fluids like herbal teas and milk all contain water, and most fruits and vegetables contain moderate to significant amounts of water as do the juices made from them.
Sports drinks are a popular choice for athletes exercising at high intensity for more than an hour because they replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes, and can even help the body absorb water.
And some people like the extra kick they get from an energy drink, which may also contain moderate amounts of water.
But all of this comes with a big caveat:
None of these drinks should replace the water in your diet. Water, straight up, is always your best choice.
Why is Water Always The Best Choice?
The Juice on Juice
Fruit juice lacks the fiber contained in its whole fruit form, and so is essentially concentrated sugar water, adding a lot of empty calories to your diet without hydrating you nearly as effectively as a simple glass of water.
The Truth About Sports Drinks
Unless you’re planning a high-intensity workout, your best bet is to opt for water over sugary sports drinks. (Pro tip: check the nutrition label on your sports drink— most bottles contain several servings.)
Skip the Energy Drinks
Energy drinks may provide that extra kick you need to push through a late afternoon slump, but it’s usually because they contain heavy amounts of caffeine and are high in added sugar. Some even contain substances like guarana or taurine that can overstimulate your system and cause you to feel jittery.
Remember too, sleepiness or fatigue is a common symptom of dehydration so drinking a big glass of water in the afternoon may be all you need to feel awake and energized throughout your day.
What Are Some Other Signs of Dehydration?
People tend to notice some of the more obvious symptoms of dehydration such as thirst and little or no urine output, but miss other symptoms that are frequently linked to hydration issues like:
- Lightheadedness or Dizziness
- Dry mouth
- Urine that is darker than usual
If you notice any of these symptoms, take action and drink water immediately. Better still? Be proactive and keep a bottle of water nearby and drink from it often. If plain water doesn’t appeal, try infusing it with fresh fruit or with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Or if you keep forgetting to drink water regularly, set a timer on your phone, or create a habit of drinking water around certain times of the day (e.g. on awakening, at mid-morning, during lunch and with dinner).
Also, thirst is often confused with hunger, which is why dieters are advised to drink water before grabbing a snack. Some research even suggests drinking water can actually help you feel full.
Remember, water makes up over 50% of our body weight, and we lose water when we exercise, breathe or use the restroom. So to remain properly hydrated and feel your best, aim to drink those 48 to 64 ounces of water a day.
What can we do for you? The doctors at South Orange Chiropractic Center are experts at helping clients achieve optimal health and wellness--- we’d love to talk with you today!