Six Ways to Get You Drinking More Water
Feeling under the weather? You might be sick … or you could just be thirsty. Here’s why.
Let’s pretend you are a doctor or nurse. If you are already a doctor or nurse, then pretend you are you. A patient walks into your office with the following symptoms: decreased energy, dry skin, headaches, brain fog, dizziness and weakness. What do you suspect?
Not long ago, this was me. The list of symptoms sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Well, it didn’t even faze me; I didn’t realize how “sick” I was. I was chronically dehydrated. It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I truly began counting the ounces that I consumed and focused on getting the recommended amount for my body. And what a change it has made! My energy level went up, my skin looked better, my head less foggy, fewer dizzy spells when I went from standing to sitting, and a stronger feeling in general. It wasn’t until after I had hydrated myself that I truly realized how dehydrated and sick I was. Did I believe that I was dehydrated? Absolutely not. I drank close to the recommended eight glasses a day plus other liquids, or so I thought.
You see, there are different kinds of dehydration, and some are more obvious than others. An obvious sign is heart palpitations, confusion, fainting, decreased urine output and an inability to sweat. The not-so-obvious kind involves thirst, dry mouth, weakness, headache and dizziness, all of which can arguably be explained by something else such as exhaustion, stress, etc. Don’t put dehydration on the back burner, though! It’s most likely the culprit.
What Ails You?
Are you dehydrated? Probably not. But I’m here to tell you, that you probably are. I believe that water intake and dehydration are terribly underestimated by most people — just like I underestimated it in myself. Water plays a significant role in the body. After all, up to 60 percent of the human adult body is water!
I read the book "Your Many Cries For Water" by F. Batmanghelidj, MD. He believes that dehydration is the cause of common issues such as asthma, allergies, heartburn, stomach pain, weight gain, depression, high blood pressure and migraine headaches. Could this be true? This is such a simple solution to live a healthier, pain-free life. He made some incredible arguments and brought up some good points about why he believes dehydration is the root of most illnesses. It’s a short book with dense material, but I recommend it for those who are struggling to drink water. If it doesn’t scare you into drinking more water throughout your day, I don’t know what will!
I was going to attempt to go over the mechanisms of what water does in the body and why it is so important to consume enough, but it is so incredibly dry. So instead, I’m going give you some great ways to increase water intake without feeling bored about what you are drinking and hope that you’ll take my word on how important it is for your body.
Spice up your water! Infusing your water with fruits, veggies, or essential oils is a great way to keep the fluids coming in. Add a lemon, lime, orange wedge, strawberries, grapes or really any favorite fruit to your water, and I promise you won’t regret it. In the winter time, try hot water with mint leaves or lemon and honey. My favorite essential oils to put in water are any of the citrus oils, such as citrus fresh, tangerine, lemon, grapefruit, and mandarin. I also love peppermint. It settles an upset stomach and makes your breath fresh! If you try the essential oils route, just make sure you use a reputable company and do your research so you know exactly what you are consuming. I personally use Young Living essential oils. Also, make sure you drink essential oil and water mixtures in a glass water bottle or glass cup. The oil will draw toxins out of plastic cups which will then end up in your body. Yuck.
Drink water before and after meals. Drink at least one, but preferably two, glasses of water before a meal and another after your meal. This will help combat weight gain and excessive eating. It will also aid in digestion. Water is needed for this process, so if you are currently having heart burn, GERD, or an upset stomach after eating, increasing water before and after could be exactly what you need.
Have a glass of water before bed and first thing in the morning. As mentioned before, water aids in digestion. While you are sleeping, the ‘rest and digest’ part of your nervous system is working. Give your body all the help that you can to effectively digest and recover from the previous day.
Water is king. Do not — not even for a second — believe that other liquids can be included in your total daily intake. Although you are taking in some water with other fluids such as juice, soda, and alcohol, you are also taking in sugars and caffeine. Caffeine has a diuretic effect, meaning it promotes urination. This also means you lose water. Consuming sugary drinks will increase blood sugar. As blood sugar increases, your kidneys try to excrete it. Water always follows solutes (sugar in this case); therefore water will leave with the sugar. Sugary drinks should not be counted either! In either instance, is it enough to cause dehydration? Probably not, but I don’t recommend counting these other beverages in your daily count.
Eat your water. It’s still important to drink your daily amount of water, but there are some foods that are water-dense and can help you achieve your goals. The following are all 90% water by weight: cucumber, iceberg lettuce, celery, radishes, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, spinach, star fruit, strawberries, broccoli, grapefruit, baby carrots and cantaloupe.
Set goals. If you don’t track how much water you are taking in, you’ll never know if you are getting the recommended amount. An easy way to do this is to buy a nice water bottle that indicates ounces on the side. Carry it with you everywhere you go! Make a goal to drink a certain amount per hour. If you need to, set an alarm for yourself to remind you when to take in more fluids or keep a diary. By the end of the day, you should have consumed half of your body weight in ounces. Yes, I said half of your body weight in ounces — not eight glasses of water. It makes no sense for 6’7” 280 pound person to drink 64 ounces of water. They will need much more than that! And for those who work out — if you’ve lost water through sweat during a workout, you should plan to drink more, too. Drink what YOUR body needs. By the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so stay ahead of it!
Elizabeth Sweers is a family and pediatric chiropractor at Sweers Family Chiropractic in Clive, Iowa. Questions or comments for the doctor can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-987-9574. Sweers Family Chiropractic is located at 2200 NW 159th Street, Suite 900, Clive, IA 50325. Visit the website for more about chiropractic care.