WATER: Why You Need It. How Much You Need. And How To Tell If You’re Hydrated.
Post written by Mallory Bratton, MS, RD, LD, Dietitian, Kansas City Internal Medicine
Who knew two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (H2O) combine to make such a refreshing and important liquid?
Water consumption is important all year-round, but during the summer (particularly a summer as hot as this one has been) it is even more crucial. In this type of hot summer weather we often hear, “Make sure you drink plenty of water,” but very few understand exactly why water is so vital.
The human body is made up of 2/3rds water. In other words, water is used in almost every bodily process. Summertime heat causes people to sweat more, which means we lose water more rapidly than on cooler days. While drinking liquids in general is important, drinking liquids isn’t enough.
People need water because it can be used efficiently and quickly by our bodies. Most other beverages such as iced tea, lemonade, sodas, sports drinks, and juices are often filled with sugar, caffeine and sodium. These beverages are not used in the body as effectively as water. Most of those beverages are also a source of empty calories, meaning there is little-to-no nutritional value while being high in calories.
To prevent dehydration in the first place, always carry water. Reusable plastic water bottles are easy to take on the go and make increasing water consumption much easier. It has also been shown that drinking through a straw makes a person drink more, so use a reusable water bottle with a straw and you’re well on your way to hydration!
Be aware of signs of dehydration before they start.
It is important that you listen to your body and be aware of dehydration symptoms. Although this seems odd, the best indicator of your hydration level is the color of your urine.
If the urine is bright yellow, this indicates dehydration. A healthy, hydrated person will have very pale yellow urine. Thirst is another indictor of hydration status. If you are thirsty, then you are likely already dehydrated. It is the body’s way of telling you that more water is necessary.
Here are several good things to keep in mind when it comes to water:
- Recommendations vary, but everyone should make it a goal to drink at least 64 ounces of water per day. This should be even higher on hot summer days.
- Don’t forget about toddlers and children. They need water too.
- Ice in the glass takes up space, so make sure you are still drinking a full glass.
- To keep track of how much water you have consumed set out eight pennies on the kitchen counter in the morning. Each time you finish a glass of water take a penny away.
- No matter what people say, cold water is no different than room temperature water. The body uses the water the same way.
- Water may be clear, but try to “go green.” Think about the day and how water can be consumed without adding to landfills. Use reusable plastic bottles.