Adapted from The Linen
If you had to guess what the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States is, what would your guess be?
Calcium? Iron? Vitamin C?
How about water?
That’s right. Good ole’ h2O is the most common nutritional deficiency. Many people don’t even look at water as a necessity. When I was a practicing nutritionist, I would have clients who would go an entire day without taking a sip of water.
WHY IS WATER SO IMPORTANT?
Your body is 70-75% water. Every tissue, every cell, and every muscle in your body depends on water to function properly. Water lubricates and cushions joints, moistens oxygen for easier breathing, regulates body temperature, flushes toxins, improves cell-to-cell communication and keeps the blood and lymph free flowing. You can go 3 weeks without food but only 3-5 days without water.
HOW WILL YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER?
The problem isn’t lack of symptoms. The problem is that no one ever associates those symptoms with dehydration. Headaches, migraines, depression, joint pain, fibromyalgia, colitis, constipation, cramps, heartburn, anxiety – all symptoms of dehydration. The problem is that headaches are treated with tylenol, joint pain is treated with aspirin, constipation is treated with laxatives (which causes the body to lose even more water), heartburn is treated with calcium carbonate and anxiety is treated with pharmaceuticals. Most of the time, dehydration isn’t even looked at as an option.
LET’S BREAK DOWN SOME OF THE LIST WE JUST WENT OVER…
Headaches and migraines are often a result of the bodies inability to regulate body temperature. One of the roles of water is to help the body maintain an appropriate temperature.
Another role of water within the body is to cushion and lubricate joints. A person who suffers from chronic joint pain can see pain relief by increasing their water intake. Dehydration causes tissues to stick together and reduces the water cushion between joints – that friction can lead to severe pain and discomfort.
The symptoms of heartburn, ulcers and acid reflux can often times be alleviated with water. The stomach layer is made up of different parts – one of those important parts being mucus, which acts as the protective barrier of the stomach. Mucus protects the delicate stomach tissue from the acid it secretes to breakdown food and is made up of 98% water. When a person is dehydrated the body cannot produce mucus. No mucus means no protection or neutralization of stomach acid. Acid + Delicate Tissue = pain.
Chronic Constipation is the body's last resort of recycling any water or nutrients out of your food. One of the main jobs of the large intestine is to remove water out of digested food so not too much water is lost in waste matter. When a person is dehydrated, the digested food is not only lacking the normal amount of water for easier passage but the body tries to extract every last ounce of water in order to hydrate which leads to even more severe bouts of constipation.
HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD YOU BE DRINKING?
A good rule is to drink half of your body weight in ounces. I weigh 116 pounds. I should be drinking 58-60 ounces of water a day to stay well hydrated. It seems like a lot, but it really isn’t. It is what your body needs.
This is just the base equation though. If you are a person who drinks teas, coffees, soda (NO!) or other diuretic beverages, add 12-16 ounces for every diuretic drink you consume.
So I should be drinking 58 ounces a day without any dieuretic. But if I decide to have a cup of coffee and a glass of iced tea – I need to drink an additional 24 ounces of water to compensate for those diuretic beverages. That means 82 ounces a day.
Note – water consumption should not exceed 100 ounces a day. Too much water can cause electrolyte flushing and overload the kidneys.
If water is hard for you to get down then there are a couple different options. You can add small amounts of fruit or vegetables to spruce up your h2o. Cucumbers, raspberries, lemons, limes, oranges, strawberries and mint can all be added to water to give it some flavor.
The easiest way to drink this much water is to keep it with you at all times. Grab yourself a hydroflask and stay hydrated!