I mostly stick to a healthy lifestyle — healthy food, moderate exercise, and plenty of recreation to keep life fun. But there are still times when I just don’t feel like I am running at top performance. During those times I like to take a moment to think about what has changed. Am I not sleeping enough? Skipping my meditation? Is there an emotional challenge I’m trying not to acknowledge? Have I been working too hard? There are many reasons why I might be feeling less than optimal, but I think it’s the simplest fix that surprises me most often: H2O.
A number of studies have been conducted which point to surprising benefits of staying hydrated, such as improved mental sharpness, increased energy, and an overall reduction in caloric intake; but there is still some degree of variance in our understanding of exactly how much water is ideal. There are claims that we should drink anywhere from 8 glasses of water to a gallon of water per day. While there isn’t necessarily a magic number that fits everyone, my own observations show that most people have room for more water in their day.
I personally need more than 8 glasses and less than a gallon of water to feel my best. My doctor has indicated that the best way to ensure that I replenish what is lost daily through respiration, perspiration, and waste is to drink half my bodyweight in ounces of water each day. So if I weigh 120 pounds, I need to drink at least 60 ounces of water a day, and more if I am in the sun, working, or sweating at an increased rate.
We may not have a concrete answer about how many ounces we need each day, But we do know the reasons we need more water and the benefits of staying hydrated.
WE NEED WATER TO LIVE
Our body is made up of 60% water. The water in our bodies directly affects our ability to produce saliva and urine; it aids in circulation, digestion, and transporting nutrients; and it plays a crucial role in helping our bodies maintain an optimal temperature.
When dehydration sets in (even on a very minor level), our entire system begins to be affected.
This may exhibit through feelings of sluggishness and exhaustion, headaches, dizziness, trouble digesting foods properly, and more. These signs are our body’s early way of simply telling us that we need more water.
MUSCLES NEED WATER FOR ENERGY
When we sweat, our body loses electrolytes including chloride sodium and potassium. Our bodies depend on these minerals for communication. When they drop below normal levels we will experience muscle fatigue and even muscle cramping.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking around 17 ounces of water a couple of hours before we exercise, continuing to drink fluid while exercising to replenish what is lost through perspiration.
WE NEED WATER TO FLUSH OUT TOXINS
Our bodies comes into contact with toxins via the things we touch, the air we breathe, and the food we eat. These toxins are stored in our kidneys and lymphatic system. Our bodily fluids help to transport waste products out of our cells and ensure they are properly and safely excreted. Our bodies can get rid of toxins through our sweat or urine but it is vital that we have enough water to flush them out. It’s also important that our body has enough water to spare or it will redirect the water set aside for sweat and urine in taking care of other essential body systems, leaving the toxins trapped in our body.
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I feel the best when I drink half my bodyweight in ounces of water. Sometimes water can be boring and I want something with more taste. Rather than automatically reaching for a sugary soda, I often add a little lemon juice or cucumber to my water. This always helps me enjoy what I’m drinking, resulting in my drinking more water. Remember to add something that will make you want to reach for your glass!
Last but not least, keep your water with you. This is especially important in the summer when the heat keeps you sweating constantly throughout the day.
P.S. If you’re one of those people who can’t drink their water after it gets warm my family loves their Hydro flask bottles. They keep ice in your water all day even when it’s blistering hot. You will be surprised how much more you drink if you have it on hand all of the time and it is something you look forward to drinking.