When I think of being dehydrated, I think of someone who is really sick-pale and weak, hooked up to an IV in the hospital, dry and cracking lips, that kind of dehydrated. Or someone crawling through a desert seeing a mirage of a puddle to drink from. Photo source
That’s extreme dehydration though. Many of us are in a constant state of mild dehydration on a regular basis. You might not realize it (since you aren’t hooked up to an IV in the hospital or crawling through a desert), but there are many indicators that your body needs water before you reach extreme dehydration.
- Dry skin-You might think that it’s normal to have dry skin, but what if you just need water?
- Constipation-Obviously a bad diet is a big cause of constipation, but even with poor eating, a well hydrated person should still have semi-regular bowel movements.
- Infrequent pottying-Not peeing for 3 hours for infants and 8 hours for older children and adults can be a symptom of dehydration.
- Headache-The first thing I do if I get a headache is drink a big glass of water. Many times that takes care of it!
- Thirst-Did you know that by the time you feel thirsty you’re already a little dehydrated?
- Lightheadedness or dizziness-While many things can make you feel lightheaded, needing water is one of them.
- Sleepiness-Sometimes being tired and sleepy is just your body asking for some water.
- Dark yellow or amber colored urine-If you’re taking a multi-vitamin your pee might be bright yellow-green, but a dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration.
- Dry or sticky mouth-Drink more water!
How much is enough?
So how much should we be drinking on a regular basis? This Mayo Clinic article says,
“So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day. “
This is the adequate intake, not the ideal, which can vary from person to person. I know that I feel my best when I’m drinking about ten 12oz. glasses of water a day, which is a little less than a gallon (I am nursing full time, so I probably need more than many people). I’ve heard other rules of thumb, like the eight 8oz. glasses by 8pm rule, or to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. They’re good reference points, but I think it’s better to go by how your body feels and make sure you’re drinking enough to function at your best. Photo source
How do you get it all in?
The number one thing that helps me drink enough each day is to start early. I roll out of bed, put my contacts in and then head straight to the kitchen and drink a big glass of water. I don’t count that in my daily intake though-that’s just to balance out the dehydrating effect of the cup of coffee I drink! I try to drink two big glasses before breakfast, 5 glasses total before lunch, then another 5 in the afternoon/evening.
It doesn’t have to be just water. There are many different options for healthy hydration:
- Water with fruit added-Lemon and lime are the most popular, but I prefer frozen raspberries.
- Kombucha-I try to keep a big jar in our refrigerator. Sometimes you just need something fizzy, right?!
- Juice-We don’t do much juice (it does have a lot of sugar, even though it’s natural), but occasionally we like some natural, unfiltered apple or grape juice.
- Smoothies-Yes, they count in your fluid intake! At least at our house they do. And you can put superfoods in them!
- Herbal tea-I make a small pitcher of red raspberry leaf tea every morning and Jonathan and I drink that throughout the day. You can use loose leaf herbs to make any blend you like, but I buy red raspberry leaf tea bags because the convenience helps me stick with making it regularly.
- Milk-While I try to stay away from pasteurized milk, raw cow, goat, nut or seed milk can be a great change of pace to help keep you hydrated. Homemade eggnog totally counts. It does.
- Broth-Homemade bone broth can be a great way to keep you drinking. A hot mug of chicken or beef broth is a great way to relax on a cold afternoon (or morning or evening!), and it’s super nourishing-and frugal!
- ACV drink-Stir 1 teaspoon each raw apple cider vinegar and raw honey into an 8 oz. glass of water. I drink this in the afternoons for a little energy boost to get me through that drowsy time when I just want to take a nap. For an iron boost, try using blackstrap molasses instead of honey.
Captain Obvious would like to state here that sugary sodas do not count toward fluid intake. Also, caffeinated beverages and alcohol are dehydrating, so I make myself drink an extra glass for each caffeinated drink I have (which is usually just my morning cup of coffee. Ok, sometimes there’s an afternoon cup).
With all these healthy options there is no reason to ever be bored while trying to drink enough. Changing what I’m drinking throughout the day keeps me chugging the fluids and ensures I get my 3-4 quarts in each day.
How much water do you drink each day? Do you feel like you’re getting enough? What do you do to remind yourself to drink more water?