Written by Meredith Krayenhoff, Registered Dietitian. Published August 1, 2023.
Water, the true elixir of life. We all know of its importance, and yet so often we struggle to get enough throughout the day. Maybe you were running late and forgot to grab a bottle, maybe you’re worried you won’t have access to a bathroom for a while, or maybe it simply slips your mind.
To help make water a regular part of your day, we’ve created this article, full of simple tips and tricks to get enough!
In this article:
Why is water important for our bodies?
Though the impacts of severe dehydration can be very dangerous, we notice an effect on our physical and brain function even at lower levels of dehydration, so it’s important to keep that water level up, particularly in this gorgeous summer heat!
Water helps with almost every process in our cells and bodies, including digestion, regulating our body temperature, detoxifying waste, and transporting nutrients throughout our bodies.
Furthermore, proper hydration enhances skin health, aids digestion, boosts cognitive function, regulates body temperature, and improves physical performance. Embracing this essential aspect of self-care can lead to a happier, healthier, and more vibrant life.
Early signs of dehydration can be as simple as feeling thirsty, having a headache, or generally feeling tired and low energy. Recognizing these early signs can help you take prompt action to ensure you stay adequately hydrated throughout the day.
While we're discussing hydration, it's important to note that certain nutrients can enhance our body's water-utilization efficiency. One such nutrient is Vitamin C. To understand the synergistic role of hydration and Vitamin C supplementation, check out our detailed blog post on Vitamin C supplements.
The Hydration Connection to Mental Well-being
Proper hydration benefits both physical and mental health. It affects mood, cognitive function, stress management, and emotional resilience.
Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining a positive mood and emotional balance. Studies show dehydration can lead to feelings of irritability, anxiety, and a more negative outlook, while proper hydration supports stress management and emotional resilience.
Regular hydration supports brain health and may even help prevent cognitive decline with age. Prioritize hydration for a more balanced and focused state of mind.
How much water do we actually need in a day?
While everyone’s needs are slightly different, a good ballpark to aim for is 9 cups (2.25 L) per day for women, and 13 cups (3 L) per day for men. Keep in mind that this will increase with exercise, in hot or humid weather and with pregnancy or breastfeeding.
While we do get some fluids from foods like fruits and vegetables, 9 or 13 cups, in addition to fluid found in food, will ensure you remain well hydrated.
Download our FREE meal plan with simple recipes to boost your hydration.
Tips to Stay Hydrated:
1. Have a plan, make it easy
We all have enough going through our minds every day, and fortunately we don’t need to spend any extra time thinking about things that technology can help us with! This is why we recommend using simple tools to do the work of remembering for you! Try setting an alarm on your phone to go off every hour, reminding you to take a hearty gulp or two.
You can also buy water bottles that have times written on them, as visual indicators of how far down the bottle you should be by a certain time. Alternatively, take a sharpie and write times yourself on your favourite bottle. For example: make it halfway down the 1L bottle by 10:00 am, finish it by 12:00 pm, then turn it around and start over for the afternoon, marking a 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm line on the other side. Just have a little more to drink in the evening, and you’re all set for the day!
2. Make water tastier
Add some flavour to your water by putting a cold infusions “tea” bag in your water bottle. Leave it for 5-10 minutes and it’ll add a nice burst of flavour and slight sweetness or tang, without anything extra added in. You could also try some sparkling water, for a different mouthfeel a lot of people enjoy. There are all kinds of brands and flavours of cans or bottles available, as well as simple kitchen appliances to add fizz to your own tap water.
Alternatively, get creative yourself! Add herbs, fruits and/or vegetables to a clear pitcher of water, and keep it in front of you: it’s always more fun to drink something that’s pleasing to the eye. Try some cucumber and mint leaves, or grated ginger with a lemon wedge, or some rosemary sprigs with fresh raspberries, for a few examples. You can also pour this flavor into an ice cube tray for delicious and easy-to-use frozen cubes.
Have fun with it - the combinations are endless!
3. Vary it up - know yourself!
You can vary the temperature as well, depending on the season and your preferences. You may love sipping on herbal tea by the fireplace on those cold winter nights, but you need to keep a thermos full of ice water at your side all summer long. Someone else may be happy with room temperature water all year long. It’s easy to get caught up in the habits those around us have, and sometimes it’s helpful to take a moment to ask ourselves what we actually like.
You may find that rather than not liking water, you just need to change up the way you’re having it. The key is to experiment, pay attention to what your taste buds are reporting back, and don’t be afraid to honour those preferences.
4. Know what counts
Despite their caffeine, coffee and tea do count as fluids, as they provide more water to your body than the slight dehydrating effect of caffeine. That being said, aim for a maximum of 2-3 cups total of caffeinated tea/coffee per day. Keep in mind that 1 cup here is 8 oz, or 240 ml, not a large at your favourite coffee shop!
Raise your water bottles, not your glasses! Alcohol doesn't count towards your fluid intake.
5. Start early
We all wake up a little bit dehydrated, no matter how conscientious we try to be. After sleeping all night, and losing fluids through our breath, we need to replenish! An easy place to start is by drinking 1-2 big glasses of water when you first wake up. It sometimes takes a day or two to get used to, but you might find you wake up more easily and feel less groggy, even before that cup of joe!
Drinking water first thing in the morning helps with regularity as well, flushing out our system from the day before. Based on our natural circadian rhythm, our body finds it easiest to have a bowel movement around 8:00 am, and getting your morning fluids will help support this.
Key takeaways: The Importance of Water for Our Bodies
Water is vital for maintaining our overall health and vitality. With a few simple and fun changes, staying hydrated can be refreshingly easy all year round.
Embracing simple and enjoyable strategies, such as setting reminders, infusing water with flavour, and adapting temperature preferences, makes staying hydrated a delightful journey towards optimum physical and mental well-being.
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