Picture this: It’s the summer of 1857, the inventor of air conditioning is not yet born and some poor soul is travelling on horseback through the desert attempting to reach the next town 30 miles away. Sun beating down, sweat seeping into the corners of the passerby’s eyes creating a stinging sensation; after hours of the journey, still not a building or fellow traveler in sight. Now, what does this traveler need and want more than to reach his or her destination?… WATER!!!
This type of dehydration scene and ensuing desperation and/or confusion is depicted in countless films where travel plans and missions went amiss such as Cast Away (2000) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). However, dehydration even in the most normal and modern circumstances can be equally as dangerous causing dizziness, fatigue, confusion and extreme thirst in adults.
As a result, we can see why water and hydration are so vital and important. The benefits of water are vast …Water regulates every system in our bodies to help us survive. Water sends vital nutrients to cells, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, helps prevent infections and helps our livers and kidneys to eliminate toxins. As we lose fluid, we also lose electrolytes such as salt and potassium, which are also critical to cell function and energy levels. In addition to the visceral benefits of being well-hydrated, Dougla Casa, CEO of the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute which studies athletic performance, explains that when hydrated “…your sleep quality is better, your cognition is better, you function better, your mood is better, the list goes on.” Water can also help you to lose weight since thirst is often mistaken for hunger: a win-win for the whole body, mind and waistline!
Drinking eight glasses of water, 64 ounces, per day is a general rule of thumb, but some experts suggest drinking more or less depending on your body weight. A key way to stay hydrated is to drink when you’re thirsty and monitor the color of your urine. If your urine if mostly clear with a tinge of yellow, then your body is properly hydrated. Anything darker may mean that your body is craving more water. In summer months, make sure to pay special attention to staying hydrated and make sure to compensate for fluids lost in the excess sweat.
Ready to stay hydrated, and in turn, healthy, regulated and happier this summer? Read on for four how-to tips for staying hydrated this summer!
1. Keep a water bottle at your desk
Keeping a water bottle at your desk allows you to have constant access to water. It can also serve as a visual reminder to drink water, especially when your concentration is primarily consumed by completing a report by 5 p.m. But, perhaps, your water bottle has become a permanent decoration instead of a useful tool? Well, allow technology to assist with that! HidrateSparkⓒ water bottle is one example of how technology can help you reach your hydration goals. It syncs to your phone and Fitbit, tracks your water intake and even reminds you to drink water throughout the day by lighting up in accordance to your goals and settings. Neat-o, huh?
2. Embrace Bathroom Breaks
A natural and healthy result of drinking more water means that you have to go to the bathroom more. Repeat after me: Embrace the bathroom break! Many of us shy away from drinking more water because we worry that drinking more water will interfere with our work performance and draw attention to ourselves. But consider this, drinking more water can improve mental performance thus improving work performance and quality. Getting up to use the restroom also provides us with exercise and removes us from the seated position, which is now linked to early mortality of any cause. According to the study, those who take a break every 30 minutes are at the lowest risk for early death. Drink water, embrace the bathroom break and know that in healthy moderation this is a win-win for your work and your health!
3. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies
While it’s still important to get the majority of our fluids from our best friend, water, roughly 20 percent of our water intake comes from solid foods such as fruits and veggies. Start adding more fruits and veggies by one or two servings per day at a time. For example, add in a fruit for breakfast and one vegetable for dinner, then increase and/or maintain over time to suit your needs and body. Fruits and vegetables that are particularly high-water content include cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, celery, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, spinach, strawberries, broccoli, grape fruit, baby carrots and cantaloupes.
4. Meet with a health coach, dietitian or pharmacist
If you find that you are struggling to meet your hydration and/or fruits and veggies goals, don’t hesitate to contact the Center for Healthy Living on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus to meet with a health coach, dietitian or pharmacist. Health coaches can provide you with the support, guidance and accountability you need while a pharmacist or dietitian can help you to understand the correlation between hydration, your current medications and diet.
Call the Center for Healthy Living at (765) 494-0111 to set up an in-person or telephonic coaching appointment today! Also available now at the Center for Healthy Living is an InBody body composition analyzer which can measure your water weight and potential level of hydration or dehydration.
Be well. Be kind. Boiler Up!
Blog Post written by Katie, a member of the One to One Wellness Health Coaching Team at The Center for Healthy Living