Written by: Jenna Werner, RD
Without fail, every single year when the temps drop, there’s this ONE thing my clients seem to struggle with.
And that’s drinking their recommended water intake!
As a registered dietitian for almost 15 years, I can confidently say that my clients that are consistent with their hydration efforts generally feel their best on a daily basis. It’s this thing that we tend to overlook when making health changes, but it can truly have an enormous impact on your overall health status!
The science behind hydration is fascinating. Did you know that if you are even a little bit dehydrated, you are elevating your stress levels in your body? You literally signal a stress response with dehydration, and we know that is not health promoting.
With that said, it’s obvious staying hydrated year round is essential to your overall well being.
Naturally, when we are not sweating or feeling extra thirsty from the heat though, we think about water intake less. BUT just because it’s cooler outside, doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need adequate hydration.
Your water intake recommendations are specific to you and determined based on your age, gender, where you live and your activity levels, but as a general place to start, aim for half of your body weight in ounces or about 2 liters per day, which is the age old recommendation of “8 8 oz. glasses per day.” The key here though is, be CONSISTENT with your intake.
Before I get into my favorite ways to stay hydrated this year, it is important to know the signs of dehydration and hydration! Read on :)
Signs you are adequately hydrated:
Your urine color is your best indicator of hydration status. When you are well hydrated we are looking for light yellow, like lemonade to apple juice colored urine.
When you are hydrated these are other strong indicators, per the CDC:
- Awake and alert
- Normal pulse
- Normal thirst
- Eyes not sunken
- Skin pinch normal (pinch your skin and it should “snap” back into place quickly)
Signs you are dehydrated:
On the flip side, the CDC classifies exhibiting the following as signs of dehydration:
- Becoming irritable or restless
- Sunken eyes
- Rapid pulse
- Thirsty (drinks eagerly)
- Skin pinch goes back slowly
When your urine color gets darker, that is another indicator of poor hydration status and a signal to start drinking!
It is also important to note that if you live in hot climates, if you are a salty sweater, if you exercise a lot or if you are feeling dehydrated - you may need more than just water. Electrolyte intake and balance is very important and supplementing with electrolytes may be necessary.
Let’s prevent dehydration at all costs! In addition to signaling a stress response and making you not feel your best, dehydration can also impact your digestion, your mood and your immune system.
6 Tips to Stay Hydrated Year Round:
Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. Invest in one that works for you and bring it with you everywhere. I typically hear from clients that one with a straw is best for consumption, but you figure out what you like to drink from most and find a bottle to meet your needs! Make sure it is always in your purse, diaper bag, car, stroller and next to your bed (for the middle of the night and morning thirst!). Get in the habit of lugging it around, it is so important.
2. Sip slowly throughout the day
Try to get in the habit of sipping your water throughout the day. Chugging it can actually cause GI distress and discomfort and may prevent you from drinking later on. Go slow and steady and stay consistent.
3. Make water more fun
I get it, sometimes drinking water can get boring, but fret not, here are a few of my favorite ways to to add some flavor to my water and not compromise its composition:
Use frozen fruit as ice cubes and let them melt in there! My favorite is pineapple!
Add mint leaves for added digestive benefits and delicious flavor
Get fancy and think spa water! Go with a combo of fruits and veggies like lemon and cucumber or cucumber and strawberries
Add a drop brewed decaf iced tea, a little flavor like peppermint goes a long way!
4. Eat hydrating foods
In addition to drinking, you can also add hydrating foods to your diet to meet your water goals. Try including fruits like watermelon, strawberries and oranges or vegetables like cucumber, iceberg lettuce, baby carrots and broccoli!
5. Crack open a coconut
Try water enhancers or alternatives such as coconut water. Specifically coconut water provides naturally sweet flavor alongside its hydrating benefits, including electrolytes and minerals.
6. Make it a priority
This one is probably the most impactful and important. What I always tell clients is this: There is a LOT we cannot control in the world around us and a lot we can’t control when it comes to our health. But if we know that something as simple as staying hydrated can have large and meaningful impacts on our health, why not make it a priority! You really do hold the power to create meaningful change, so add water intake to your daily checklist and make sure you cross it off each day! You’ll feel a lot better :)
Water cheers my friends!
With Love and Water,
Jenna Werner, RD