With record-breaking heat this summer, it’s vital to our health to stay hydrated. Our bodies are made up of 55-60% water, so if you’re thirsty, experts say you’re already mildly dehydrated. And yes, even mild dehydration can have negative side effects, so here’s some motivation to help you keep up with your daily water intake.
- Physical Health: Water is necessary for our bodies to run properly. Hydration aids in regulating body temperature, delivering important nutrients to our cells, creating saliva, lubricating our joints, flushing waste from our bodies, and acting as a sort of shock absorber vital to the safety of our brains and spinal cords. Water also helps our bodies prevent infection, and much more!
- Mental Health: Hydration is also a great benefit to a healthy mind and mood.
- Sleep– Hydration insomnia can occur when dehydration affects the chemicals in our bodies. Amino acids help produce melatonin, the hormone that regulates our circadian sleep rhythms, and they can be thrown off by a lack of hydration, resulting in a poor night’s sleep.
- Cognition– According to Betsy Mills, PhD, “The brains of dehydrated adults show signs of increased neuronal activation when performing cognitively engaging tasks, indicating that their brains are working harder than normal to complete the task…Performance on complex cognitive tasks that require high levels of brain power is most likely to decline due to the strain of dehydration.”
- Mood and Mental Health– Hydration is also important to our mental health. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges can appear or increase during states of dehydration.
So now that we know the importance of staying hydrated, how much is the correct amount of water? According to The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an adequate daily fluid intake is:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
It seems like a lot until we realize that not all of our daily fluids need to come from plain water. Creative ways to hydrate without drinking water include adding fresh fruit and ice to give your water a little splash of flavor, blending up a nutritious smoothie, ordering a broth-based soup as a starter before dinner, or sipping a cup of your favorite tea. Just be sure to pick options that don’t add extra sugar to your diet. The harm that sugary drinks can do to our bodies can outweigh the benefits of any hydration they provide.
So, pick one way that you’re going to keep hydrated this summer. Decide today to make hydration a daily habit, and see how your body, mind, and mood thank you.