We don’t mean to put you on the hot seat, but how would you rate your hydration habits? Are you a “never leave the house without my refillable water bottle” kind of person? Do you struggle to remember the last time you ingested a liquid that wasn’t coffee? Or do you fall somewhere between these two extremes?
If this line of questioning has you sweating just a little bit, don’t worry about it. Wipe your brow, maybe take a sip of some water, then read on knowing that you aren’t alone: almost half of all American adults aren’t drinking enough water.
Here's a quick bit of trivia: how much of the human body is water?
Up to 60% of the human body is made of water, so in a sense, you literally are what you drink. Wild, huh?
The water you consume – and that comes to comprise more than half of you – helps your body out in the execution of countless extremely important processes, like:
regulating body temperature
warding off infection
facilitating nutrient delivery to cells
keeping our organs working as intended
“Is being hydrated really that important?” In short, yes!
You've probably already heard that not drinking enough water is a bad thing. But what specifically can go wrong when you're regularly not getting enough liquids?
When you don't drink enough water, you become what's known as "dehydrated." That just means your body doesn't have enough fluids to do what it's supposed to. Dehydration can lead to sleepiness or general fatigue, a headache, and in more extreme cases confusion.
Before these more serious consequences kick in, if you're dehydrated you might notice you aren't urinating much, or when you do have to go, your urine is darker and there's less of it. You might feel extremely thirsty and your mouth might feel dry, as well.
If you don’t drink enough water, you may become dehydrated. This means your body doesn’t have enough fluid to operate properly.
Well... everyone. (Apologies to those who really dislike drinking water – even you ought to be choking some H2O down every now and then.)
But not everyone’s hydration needs are alike. There are plenty of variables that factor into how much you should hydrate. For instance:
Adults tend to need more water than children.
Men should typically drink more water.
The more active you are, generally the more you’ll need to hydrate.
If you live in a hot and humid place – or at higher altitudes – you face a greater risk of dehydration.
When you’re sick – and vomiting, experiencing diarrhea, or have a fever – you should increase your fluid intake.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you’ll likely need to up your water consumption.
How much water should you drink in a day? It's a bit complicated. Guidelines exist (15.5 cups of water a day for men and 11.5 cups for women), but your body should be able to give you a sense of whether you’re on the right track. It’s hardly a glamorous system, but a simple urine check can tell you most of what you need to know: if it’s dark yellow, you can afford to drink some water!
So you fall into the “everyone” camp of needing to consume water in order to live, and you even have a rough idea of how much you should be drinking. What next? You aren't alone in wanting to know how to drink more water!
At kencko, we’re big on setting smaller, more attainable goals that we can stick to, rather than swing for the fences with a lofty health ambition that requires a complete overhaul of lifestyle to accomplish.
In terms of taking practical steps to improve daily hydration habits, here are a few suggestions for seamlessly weaving water into your existing routine:
Start and finish your day with a glass of water: before things gets too hectic, and when you’re tuckered out after all those hectic things, sip on some fluids. Just be mindful about drinking water before bed – too much too late in the day and you might wind up waking up to use the bathroom.
Drink a glass of water with meals – even adding 8 ounces of fluids to your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners can elevate your hydration game big-time.
Keep a refillable water bottle on-hand. No need to chug 32 ounces down all in one go, but chances are if you have water nearby throughout the day, you’ll drink it.
If you keep a tight schedule – and don’t mind stuffing your calendar with a few more notifications – set a reminder or two throughout the day that simply reads “drink some water.”
Aim to eat more foods that are higher in water content.
This last suggestion is – of course – our personal favorite, because some of the most water-rich foods out there are fruits and vegetables! We know getting your recommended five daily servings of fruits and veggies can be a real challenge, but as is the case with so many other healthy habits, it checks more than one box: providing not just essential nutrients, gut-friendly fiber, and delicious flavor, but helping to meet your hydration needs as well.
So raise a glass – or an apple. To your health!
Maybe you've been hittin' the glasses of water pretty hard since first reading this blog post, and you're returning now to remember fondly when you cemented your newfound commitment to hydration. If that's the case, here's some good news – to go along with you probably feeling great from staving off dehydration and all its pitfalls!
You already know how to stay hydrated, and maybe even the best ways to hydrate. But how about a few more pointers for sticking with it when you just don't feel like sipping your umpteenth glass of the wet stuff on a warm summer afternoon?
Prepare for roadblocks: you know you probably won't be within arm's reach of a water fountain every second of your day – so make a contingency plan. Going for a jog in the park? Make note of where you can re-hydrate along your route. Got a long meeting through lunch? Bring a bottle of water.
Make it a habit: this sounds like a sort of logic puzzle, but it really isn't. If you work at making drinking water a habit, it'll be easier to stick to. Just something to remember in the early days of thinking "ugh, do I really need another glass already?"
Set realistic goals: if you aren't a big water person, don't try to completely reinvent yourself overnight. For somebody who's generally dehydrated, any increase in water intake is good, so celebrate the small, incremental wins.
Track your progress: maybe it's through the Notes app in your phone, or through some other means, but it really can prove helpful to log your progress – being able to look to a record that you've gotten better about hydration can prove inspiring on days you might otherwise fall short of your new goal.
Be patient: just because you've been on your A-game hydration-wise for a while now, doesn't mean your body will provide you with proof right away. (Yes, we're talking about urine color here, albeit somewhat euphemistically...) Stick with it though, and you'll start to feel – and see – positive changes.