6 Facts & Tips for Staying Properly Hydrated

6 Hydration Facts and Tips

1. How Much Water Should I Drink to Stay Hydrated?

The average man should drink about 15.5 cups of water per day and the average woman should drink about 11.5 cups of water to remain hydrated according to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Unfortunately, the average American drinks only 2.5 cups of water each day, which is why an estimated 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

2. Signs of Dehydration

Signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Thirst
  • Hunger (even after eating)
  • Darker colored urine 
  • Dry mouth

3. Symptoms of Dehydration And What To Look For

Dehydration can lead to the following:

  • Fatigue 
  • Weakness 
  • Poor stamina 
  • Headache 
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness 
  • Decreased urination 
  • Less skin elasticity and dry mouth, eyes and lips

If you’re chronically dehydrated, you may experience:

  • Nausea/vomiting 
  • Muscle cramps 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Heat exhaustion 
  • Poor nutrient absorption 
  • Less organ/tissue protection 
  • Poor temperature regulation 
  • Lower production of hormones and neurotransmitters 
  • Less joint lubrication 

4. How to Make Drinking Water a Habit?

Staying well hydrated can be habitual if you plan. Set a daily goal for water consumption. Designate specific times of the day to drink. Carry a water bottle with you. Download a hydration app and set reminders to drink. Replace one cup of coffee or tea each day with a glass of water. Make sure you drink before, during and after exercise.

5. How to Stay Hydrated without Drinking Water

Water isn’t your only option. If you dislike water or are tired of drinking it, try drinking fruit-infused water, seltzer, sparkling water and unsweetened green and/or white tea. Broths and soups can also be a welcome alternative to water. You also can “eat” your water by incorporating fruits and vegetables with high water concentrations such as celery, watermelons, iceberg lettuce, strawberries, cucumbers, cantaloupe and zucchini into your diet.

6. Can Drinking Too Much Water be Bad for You?

You can drink too much water. Make sure you don’t go overboard drinking water. If you drink more than your body needs on a regular basis, your kidneys won’t be able to keep up with ridding your body of the excess water. As a result, your body’s sodium content becomes diluted, raising your risk for hyponatremia - life threateningly low sodium levels. Sodium is an electrolyte; one of its functions is to regulate water in and around cells.

How to Hydrate Without Drinking Water

If you are not fond of water, choosing a flavored sparkling water or adding fruit slices to spring water may help make it more appealing. Decaffeinated herbal tea is another alternative.  

Another option is to consume foods with high water contents, such as:

  • Vegetables: spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, baby carrots, radishes and cucumbers
  • Fruit: strawberries, blueberries and watermelon
  • Dairy products - plain yogurt and skim milk
  • Protein – extra lean ground beef, flounder, white meat chicken with skin and eggs

Replacing Electrolytes

Electrolytes – sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chlorine and phosphate -- are electrically charged minerals. They’re found in bodily fluids such as blood, sweat and urine and have several functions including maintaining a balance of body fluids. Here are some foods that are high in electrolytes:

  • Fruit: grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes and bananas
  • Nuts and seeds – almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, coconut water, almond milk, cashew milk and peanut butter 
  • Spinach

Limit Dehydrating Foods and Ingredients

Another approach you can take is limiting foods that have diuretic properties like parsley, celery, asparagus, artichokes and cantaloupe. Caffeine also can contribute to dehydration, so watch your coffee, tea, cola and chocolate intake.  

Alcohol is known for causing excessive urination, which can interfere with your body’s water levels. This is how drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can lead to dehydration.  

Lastly, processed foods may be convenient, but they’re typically high in sodium. Too much sodium tends to disrupt the fluid balance in cells.

If you feel you're dehydrated and your efforts to rehydrate don't seem to be working, talk to your doctor, as there may be an underlying issue. Your doctor can provide guidance, possibly switch your medications and/or order appropriate tests.

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