Healthy Living: The Hydration Equation
It’s a warm summer afternoon and you’re outside on the patio enjoying a good book. The sun is glaring down on you and thirst begins to set in. The thought of a refreshing drink makes your mouth tingle. What’s the first drink you’ll reach for? A sugary, sweetened iced tea? A good old PBR? A fizzy soda?
What about just a glass of water?
So simple and so, well, plain! However, you’re better off sticking to some water compared to the latter options. Odds are, you’re probably under consuming it, too.
Water is an essential part of our overall well-being, and a vital aspect to maintaining a functioning body. It makes up 55-60% of our total body mass. It is an important part of nearly everything in our body —flushing out toxins, delivering oxygen to our cells, transporting nutrients, maintaining a homeostatic blood pressure, regulating body temperature and contributing to our body’s natural healing properties.
There are two facts to consider which set the foundation for why consuming water is so important:
- The body can only produce about 8% of its daily water needs.
- Water distribution is regulated but cannot be stored within the body for a long period of time.
This means our body is almost entirely dependent on us to obtain its daily hydration needs. Talk about responsibility.
How much water should you be consuming?
The easiest way to calculate an approximation of water consumption is to take your weight in pounds and divide by 2. That is the number of ounces at minimum you should be consuming. For example, a 150-pound person should be consuming at least 75 ounces of water. However, there are many factors that affect this equation. Activity levels, age, sweating and overall health. The more water you are releasing from the body, the more you will need to replace, like during a workout. In addition, older people are proven to have decreased thirst signals and can face issues maintaining appropriate water homeostasis with the onset of certain diseases such as dementia, medication side effects or decreased mobility.
I would say the most common factor for this water consumption is the addition of diuretics. A diuretic causes urinary excretion as opposed to absorption within the body. This means the body doesn’t use what it’s consuming to filter back through itself for necessary functions. Common diuretics include soda, alcohol, processed fruit juices, coffee and teas. This also means not every liquid is created equally.
If you regularly consume diuretic beverages, a simple equation to use is to take the ounces of diuretic beverage consumed and multiply by 1.5. Then add that number to the number you got by dividing your weight. Here’s what the final equation should look like:
(Oz of diuretics x 1.5) + Body weight in Lbs./2) = Minimum daily water intake.
The easiest way to remedy low water consumption is to have a water bottle with you at all times. The bigger the bottle, the less times you need to keep track of refills and add up the ounces you’re drinking. If plain water sounds incredibly mundane to you, try adding flavors to it. Mint, lemon, ginger, and blueberries are all naturally flavorful and can jazz up any plain water. This can also be a great way to cut back on sugary, unnecessary beverages that aren’t keeping you hydrated! Water consumption is one of the first things I check with clients when reviewing nutritional and lifestyle habits. It is such a simple thing yet has a profound effect on the body. I challenge you to take this equation and compare it to the amount of water you normally drink. You may be surprised by how little you are really drinking compared to the glasses of coffee, soda and lemonade!