We like to think we’re made of grit, determination, and just enough sass to keep life interesting. But in truth, we’re made mostly of water (but there’s still plenty of room for grit, determination, and sass). In fact, your body is about 60% water, and it needs to stay hydrated to survive. Dehydration can be dangerous, and even mild dehydration can lead to concentration problems, dizziness, headaches, and fatigue. More severe dehydration can be life-threatening.
If your water fail needs a little TLC (#90sThrowback), keep on reading. We’ll fill your cup with hydration information!
Why We Need Water
Our bodies need water to keep us healthy. Beyond quenching a dry throat or cooling us down when we’re hot, water aids nearly every bodily function.
Water’s impressive resumé:
- Regulates body temperature
- Protects and cushions joints, tissues, organs, and your spinal cord
- Helps your body remove waste (that’s right: peeing, pooping, and sweating!)
- Keeps your cardiovascular system functioning properly
- Helps with concentration and brain function
- Prevents dehydration
For athletes, proper hydration and electrolyte balance are vitally important. Staying hydrated helps us perform at a higher level and aids in recovery after our workouts.
Water does some serious heavy lifting for our bodies. But it’s up to us to replenish the supply.
Dehydration Means Devastation
Dehydration occurs when we either don’t consume enough water or excrete more water than we replace. At first, symptoms of dehydration can be mild, like a headache, dizziness, or tiredness. But if left untreated, dehydration can be severe and could even cause organ damage, organ failure, or death.
Even if you think you’re drinking enough, it’s easy to get dehydrated if you’re not paying attention. The following can cause dehydration quickly, even if you’re drinking water occasionally:
- Sweating heavily while working out
- Being in the heat for a prolonged period
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Diabetes (which often causes excess urination)
For athletes, dehydration can also lead to muscle spasms, mental fogginess, and decreased athletic performance. Plus, your body needs water to recover properly. Excess perspiration can also lead to dangerous electrolyte imbalances, which can cause a host of medical issues if not treated.
How Much Water Should I Drink?
It’s wise to be a heavy drinker. (No, not beer, although we like a cold one every now and then, too!). Most researchers say there’s no one answer to the “how much water should I drink?” question because everyone’s body is different. However, the old adage of eight glasses of water a day is certainly a great place to start.
One study from the U.S. National Academies of Engineering, Science, and Medicine (phew, that’s a mouthful!) found that, on average, women should drink about 2.7 liters of water, or about 11.5 cups per day. Of course, that’s the average: women who work out, live in hot or humid climates, have certain health conditions, or who are breastfeeding will need to drink more. Women who aren’t as active could drink less.
More importantly, remember that not all your water intake needs to come from your sports bottle. Those 11.5 cups (more or less) can also come from your diet. Many fruits and vegetables contain primarily water, meaning you can rehydrate yourself while also replenishing your vitamins and filling up on fiber. Who’s down for some watermelon?
How Do I Know if I’m Drinking Enough?
It’s not so much the number of glasses that determines whether or not you’re staying hydrated. Pay attention to your body; it always tells you when you need more water. If you’re feeling thirsty, that’s a sign that you’re probably already dehydrated. To prevent this from happening in the first place, keep a water bottle with you and drink frequently throughout the day.
The best way to check your hydration levels? Check your pee. Yep, that’s right: the color of our urine will tell us whether or not we’re drinking enough. If your urine is dark, you’re definitely dehydrated. If it’s completely clear, you can probably back off on your water consumption.
While you’re slaying a workout, outside in the heat, or doing intense cardio exercise, pay attention to your body. If you start to feel overheated or dizzy, have a racing heartbeat, or notice your mental awareness is fading, it’s best to stop and rehydrate.
How much water do YOU drink every day? Drop us a comment!