Hydration for Your Health: The Importance of Drinking Water

female runner drinking waterOur bodies need water to survive. About 60% of the adult human body is water, and a large number of body systems require it to function normally. Take a look at all the ways our bodies use water:

  • Body temperature: Sweat helps to regulate body temperature and keep us cool.
  • Circulation and heart health: When properly hydrated, the blood carries more oxygen cells, and the heart can pump easier.
  • Digestion and waste removal: Water helps your body break down food and absorb nutrients; water also helps the kidneys transport waste out of the body’s cells, and keeps the gastrointestinal tract in good working order – all of which helps flush your body of waste and toxins.
  • Healthy joints: Water cushions and lubricates joints.
  • Healthy skin: Drinking plenty of water keeps skin and hair hydrated; dehydration often leads to dry skin and hair.

Although water is critical for survival, our bodies cannot store water, and we must therefore be diligent about keeping a steady influx of fluids. All of which is to say, staying hydrated is one of the most important and easiest things you can do to maintain your health and wellbeing. Hydration is especially important during the summer months – as well as before, after and during sauna use – as our bodies lose fluids rapidly in the heat.

Side Effects of Dehydration

The truth is, most of us under-hydrate and therefore live in a constant state of daily dehydration. Wonder if you’re not drinking enough water each day? Symptoms of mild dehydration include dry mouth, headache, constipation, dizziness, lack of energy and, of course, thirst. One of the best and easiest ways to measure your hydration level is how often you visit the bathroom – if you’re hydrated, you should be making trips every couple hours. Did you go the whole afternoon without making a single trip? Decreased urination is usually a sign of dehydration.

Mild dehydration often goes unnoticed and can therefore lead to chronic dehydration. Because of poor hydration habits, certain medications, or an illness, some people stay mildly dehydrated for days or even weeks. Common symptoms of chronic dehydration include fatigue, depression, poor concentration, reoccurring headaches and food cravings. This last symptom is a good one to watch out for. Many people mistake thirst for hunger and reach for a snack instead of a sip of water.

Common Sense Tips to Stay Hydrated

The easiest way to stay hydrated is both obvious and simple: drink more water! A good rule of thumb to follow is don’t just drink when you feel thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.

The amount of water needed to stay properly hydrated really depends upon the individual. Obviously, body weight, heat exposure and activity level all factor in. Even people who aren’t that active should drink six or eight glasses of water a day.

For those who exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests drinking anywhere from four to eight ounces of water every 20 minutes during exercises. The ACSM also recommends drinking 16-20 ounces of water (2-3 glasses) an hour or two prior to exercising and replenishing with 20-24 ounces of water (3-4 glasses) post-exercise.

Proper hydration is also a crucial component of safe sauna use. At Sunlighten, we recommend drinking an 8-ounce glass of water prior to sauna use and rehydrating with 24 ounces of water post-use. Because the body loses essential nutrients during intense sweating, we also recommend drinking something that will restore lost nutrients, such as electrolyte drink like BioPure Micro Minerals for replenishment.

 


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