Tuesday 15 Jan. 2019
*Originally published in the Concord Insider
Nancy and Ronald, Batman and Robin, Siegfried and Roy, Kim and Kanye – (in)famous dynamic duos that somehow complement each other. Two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule bonded together – who would have thought how magnificent this combination could be?
In addition to the importance water plays in and on our planet, it is essential to many biological processes. In my opinion, none more important than sustaining human life. Our bodies consist of up to 60 percent water, the majority of which is found in our organs, skin, tissue and blood. There is lots of confusing information about this magical liquid. Here are some general guidelines that I try to follow. (Remember, I’m just a mom, so please do not use this in lieu of professional medical advice).
Why do I need to drink water? Our bodies are constantly losing water. Expiration of our breath is a large source of water loss, followed closely by evaporation from skin. Other sources of water loss are urine, stool and a few other variations of unpleasant activities.
How much water should I drink? Although this varies by age, amount of adipose tissue, level of activity and climate you live in, a good rule of thumb is to drink approximately half your body weight in ounces. There are lots of apps to help you determine the correct amount for your water intake. My colleague, and fellow graduate of Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Christine Cook, suggests using an online hydration calculator to help personalize it.
How do I store that much water? Well, to do that is another story. If your house is anything like mine, you already have an entire cabinet of reusable water bottles. The cabinet where no matter how you organize it, (right side up, upside-down, caps on, caps off, caps to the side stacked neatly) when you open it several of the water bottles literally come flying at you. Every. Single. Time. And yet I still keep them. All of them.
Tervis, Nalgene, Hydroflask, Swell, BPA-free plastic, glass, straw, no straw, squeeze bottle. I have tried (and currently own) them all. Although I am a sucker for a new water bottle that can keep my water ice cold, you need to ask yourself these important questions before splurging. Tightness seal:Does the lid stay on properly? Does the water bottle leak when fallen over or tipped on its side? Mouth of the water bottle: When you take a sip, does water dribble down your chin or sides of your mouth? Does the ice come smashing at your teeth? Temperature control: Do full ice cubes fit into the opening of the bottle or do you need crushed ice? Do the ice cubes stay frozen? The most important question – storage. Where are you planning on keeping this water bottle? Does it fit in your car cup holder, the side of your backpack or the special slot in your gym bag? You may have to have several water bottles to accommodate different hydration needs (if you need permission to have a designated cabinet, here it is).
When should I drink water? During sleep we lose a significant amount of water, so drinking water first thing in the morning is important. It may seem obvious, but drink during every meal. We frequently eat on the go and try to cram eating lunch in at our desks. Create a habit of two to three bites of food to one to two sips of water. Furthermore, hunger can often be confused for thirst. If you’re feeling hungry and you shouldn’t be, try drinking a glass of water before grabbing some more food. Also, make sure you drink enough water when you are being active. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink approximately 17 ounces of fluid roughly 2 hours before you exercise and continue to drink in regular intervals to replace the fluids you are losing.
How do I know if I am drinking enough water? There is no definitive way without seeking medical attention to determine if you are dehydrated, however there are signs you can watch out for. Some indicators that you’re not drinking enough water include dark yellow urine (the lighter your urine is, the more hydrated you are), if you haven’t used the restroom in four hours, and unusually dry skin.
How do I drink that much water? Make drinking water convenient. Have reusable water bottles filled and ready to go (I have one [ok, maybe two] in my car, one in my purse and a mason jar I refill at the bubbler at work). Set reminders on your phone. It is easy for hours to pass us by without drinking when we are focused on something else. Set a goal of finishing an entire bottle before lunch and one more before the end of your work day. While these suggestions may not fit everyone’s occupation or lifestyle, modify the amount and time frame to fit your needs and adjust the reminders on your phone. Pro tip: Drink water directly after a restroom break.
What if I don’t like water? Try something new – add lemon or other fruit to plain water, pick sparkling water over soda or suck on a cup of ice chips. If you just can’t bring yourself to drink enough water, try eating food largely made of water. Fruits and vegetables have a high content of water and approximately 20 percent of our fluid intake comes from food.
P.S. If none of the above persuaded you to increase your daily water intake, I have one last ace up my sleeve – halitosis. Chronic bad breath can be caused by lack of water. Drinking water rinses away food particles, can dilute chemicals in your mouth and promotes saliva production that attacks the odor causing bacteria.
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(Crystal Reynolds is the owner of 43 Degrees North Athletic Club and also 43 reusable water bottles.)