6 Benefits for Staying Hydrated
More Americans are now drinking 38% more water over soda than they were 15 years ago. In 1998, the US averaged approximately 54 gallons of soda per person to only 42 gallons of water. Now Americans on average drink 44 gallons of soda and up to 58 gallons of water, which is great - but there’s still room to improve!
This data indicates that Americans individually consume about 7,242 ounces of water annually, about 20 ounces daily, which is only about 2.5 cups daily. That’s a far cry from the general belief that we should be drinking about 8 glasses of water each day.
Drinking water is crucial to staying healthy and maintaining the proper functioning of every system in our body. When we don’t get enough fluids, we’re at risk of becoming dehydrated. This is especially true in the summer months, when the weather is hotter and we perspire more. Older adults are even more prone to dehydration because they don’t sense thirst as much as they did when they were younger. And that becomes a problem when they’re on a medication that may cause fluid loss, like a diuretic. Warning signs of dehydration include weakness, low blood pressure, dizziness, confusion, or dark-colored urine.
To ward off dehydration, we should get about 30-50 ounces of water per day. We can achieve this from simply drinking fluids throughout the day as well as eating water-rich foods such as salads, fruit, and applesauce.
If you wonder whether you’re drinking enough water, the Mayo clinic’s advice is “if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3) cups or more of colorless or light yellow urine a day, your intake is probably adequate.” While the Institute of Medicine simply advices to “let thirst be your guide.”
There are many benefits to drinking plenty of water that go beyond preventing dehydration. Here are a handful of benefits. For more tips, check out the book Quench, by Dr. Dana Cohen.
1. Water keeps your body cool
When your body releases heat by expanding blood vessels close to the skin’s surface, it results in more blood flow and heat dissipating into the air. When you’re dehydrated, it takes a higher environmental temperature to trigger blood vessels to widen, so you stay hotter.
2. Water prevents dry mouth
Water keeps your throat and lips moist and prevents your mouth from feeling dry. Dry mouth can cause bad breath and/or an unpleasant taste.
3. Water promotes cardiovascular health
Dehydration lowers your blood volume, making your heart work harder to pump reduced amount of blood and get enough oxygen to your cells. This makes daily activities like walking up the stairs more difficult.
4. Water lubricates your muscles and joints
When you’re well hydrated, the water inside and outside the cells of the contracting muscles provides adequate nutrients and removes waste efficiently so you can perform better. Water also helps in lubricating joints giving you a more fluid range of motion.
5. Water helps your skin stay supple
When a person is dehydrated, skin is less elastic. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling.
6. Water helps cleanse your body
This is because fluids carry nutrients to our cells, flush bacteria from our bladder and prevent constipation. Keeping hydrated may also help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney stones. Severe hydration may result in kidney health issues, which causes toxins to build up in your body.
What are some of your personal tips on how to stay hydrated, especially in the summer months?