Are You Drinking Enough Water? Probably Not.

Photo by Kristen Coffield

You may be surprised to learn that the low hanging fruit of wellness is proper hydration. If we are even a little bit dehydrated, it can affect our ability to make good decisions; especially, but not limited to, what we eat and drink. Note to self — proper hydration should be mandatory before signing legally binding documents or accepting invitations to meet people you matched with on Bumble. 

 

Every wellness journey begins with hydration. Chronic dehydration is a wide spread problem; and most people have absolutely no idea they are walking around in a state of dehydration. Sure, the body sends signals like thirst and hunger; but by the time we register thirst, we are partially dehydrated. We can even get confused by the signals our bodies send, mistaking thirst for hunger, causing us to overeat and make poor food choices.

 

If we want to optimize our health, maintain a healthy body weight, and make good decisions, it is essential to understand the important role of hydration and create habits that support it. 

 

Many of the beverages we consume each day are actually dehydrating. Coffee, tea, soda, and alcohol can all be dehydrating.  If they contain added sugar or artificial ingredients, they are even worse for us. More complicating, for each dehydrating beverage we consume, we need to compensate by drinking 12-15 ounces of water. You can see how this could lead to living in a state of dehydration. If we start each day with a dehydrating beverage, we are in a deficit from the get-go. If we don’t replenish with water, the condition is compounded.

 

What is dehydration?

Water is used by our bodies to carry out normal metabolic functions. Things like removing waste from cells, regulating body temperature, and digesting food. An adult body is comprised of about 60% water, and our individual water needs will vary depending on how active we are and our lifestyle. Dehydration occurs when we use more water than we replace; and it is a serious condition. More sneaky however, is chronic low-level dehydration that easily flies under the radar and can seem normal.

 

Dehydration symptoms can include:

Dry cough, chapped lips and dry mouth, indigestion, muscle cramping, elevated heart rate, dark urine, constipation, irritability, brain fog, dry skin, headaches, nose bleeds, chronic fatigue, being thirsty, dry eyes, cravings and overeating.

 

It is not complicated, hard or expensive to harness the benefits of water — but, it is a practice. Most of us are partially dehydrated and missing the “feel good, look good” benefits that come with full hydration. We can reestablish how it feels like to be properly hydrated, and develop habits and accountability to stay that way. Here is a simple hydrating habit you can use to begin your hydration journey.

 

Wake up and sip the water

When we are asleep, our body is in a state of fast. The best way to end the fast is by rehydrating with 8-10oz of warm or room temperature water. Every morning the first beverage should be water. Because coffee is dehydrating, it is best enjoyed after a big hydrating glass of water.

 

I like to boost my water with the juice of half a fresh squeezed lemon. The lemon adds vitamin C, flavor and acidity, which actually turns alkaline in the body. More alkalinity and less acidity, helps to lower inflammation in the body. This is an easy habit to cultivate that starts each day by putting the hydration odds in our favor.

 

*Be sure to protect your tooth enamel from citric acid by sipping your lemon water with a straw.

 

Start each day with warm lemon water and make that your first hydration habit. Practicing hydration is a commitment. Good health starts by fueling your body with the things it needs to function optimally. I will be sharing more ways you can use your little daily actions to improve hydration in upcoming articles. 

 

Inspired to Learn Even More?

 

Download The Culinary Cure Rx: Healthy Habits 101, an in-depth guide for starting a successful wellness journey.

4 Comments For This Article

Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RDN, LD

I enjoyed your article, except for one unscientific mistake. Coffee, tea and soda are not dehydrating, according to the National Academy of Sciences most recent report on fluid recommendations. In fact, tea is the healthiest way to hydrate yourself, because of the fluid but also the nutrients in tea. The only dehydrating beverage is alcohol.

Kristen Joy

Thanks for your comment Katherine,

I like The Cleveland Clinics functional approach.

"Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, teas, and colas, are not recommended for optimal hydration. These fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration. Fruit juice and fruit drinks may have too many carbohydrates, too little sodium, and may upset the stomach."

Although organic green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet and the polyphenols and nutrients have a wide variety of health benefits, coffee and tea are far more complicated due to how and where they are grown and processed. To keep things simple I felt it was important to encourage people to address their relationship with caffeine and renew their relationship with water.

I look forward to continuing the conversation.

Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RDN, LD

Hmmmm... Kristen,
I'd really like to know where the Cleveland Clinic says coffee and tea are too dehydrating. This is what I found on the Cleveland Clinic site from 2019: "Fluids can come from a variety of sources including water, milk, 100% fruit juice, tea, coffee. Alcohol, particularly in large amounts, can cause the body to get rid of more fluid; so if you drink, do so in moderation."
The National Academy of Sciences is the largest nutrition research body in the country, if not the world. All scientists contribute to the findings which are based on decades of peer-reviewed scientific research and used by nutrition scientists all over the world as a benchmark for nutrition prescriptions. They are The NAS Food and Nutrition Board is seen as the Gold Standard for the most current recommendations, not a particular clinic, in any case.

Kristen Joy

The below quote is from my.clevelandclinic.org. Reveiwed 05/09/2019

The article references the Centers for Disease Control, American Heart Association and American Hiking society.

"Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, teas, and colas, are not recommended for optimal hydration. These fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration. Fruit juice and fruit drinks may have too many carbohydrates, too little sodium, and may upset the stomach."

As previously stated, my article was intended to encourage people to drink more water. I feel caffeine is a slippery slope due to the proliferation of coffee and tea beverages that contain chemical additives, sugar or have been processed in a non-beneficial way.

I agree with you that organic green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet, and organic coffee that has been carefully processed is equally healthy. Unfortunately that's not what most people are drinking. So for purposes of encouraging people to drink more water I chose to encourage less caffeine, and referenced an article from My.clevelandclinic.org to support my point.

But this does bring up the very interesting and complicated world of mass marketed caffeinated beverages, and the nuances of which are healthy and which not.

This might be a subject worth exploring in a future article.

I appreciate the lively banter and am happy to continue the conversation directly. kristencoffield@gmail.com