Ok, so not the most exciting topic…BUT, it’s kind of essential. I read a great article by Joshua Gowan, Ph.D. (You, Illuminated) in Psychology Today (read the whole article here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-illuminated/201010/why-your-brain-needs-water). I love his lines - “It’s so easy to get a drink whenever I'm thirsty. This is a convenience to be grateful for, not taken for granted. This is so true! How many countries in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water like we do?
Most of us don’t drink enough water. Why not? Well, I ask myself that question ALL THE TIME. Because I kind of suck at keeping hydrated. The important water rulers of the world tell us that on average we should be consuming approximately 3 litres of water/day if you are a male and 2.2 litres of water/day if you are a female. This is a rough guideline really, as the amount you need will obviously vary depending on things like your body weight, size, activity level, and climate that you live in.
Let’s look at the ‘sciencey’ stuff here. Research shows that 60 - 70% of the body is made up of water. The USGS Water Science School sites H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, telling us the following:
the brain and heart are composed of about 73% water
lungs about 83%
muscles and kidneys about 79%
bones about 31%
skin contains about 64% water
Water is needed by all the cells and organs in the body in order to function properly. What are some of the functions of H2O you ask? Water forms saliva, acts as a lubricant and cushion for joints, regulates body temperature, transports nutrients and oxygen to cells, and acts as a shock absorber for the brain, spine, & fetus. Water is lost by the body during normal everyday functioning and needs to be replaced. There are many many many health problems that can occur from not drinking enough water. Headaches, lethargy, foggy brain, constipation, light headedness, grumpiness, are some of the ‘less serious but super irritating’ symptoms of being dehydrated. When your water intake doesn’t equal your outtake you become dehydrated.
We all know there are a gazillion benefits to drinking enough water everyday. These include: more energy, shinier hair, improved mood, better skin, flushes out toxins, boosts immune system, keeps you ‘regular’, helps fight fatigue, helps prevents headaches, keeps our kidneys functioning, and the list goes on pretty much endlessly. One thing I have noticed (as a person who is not so great at drinking enough water…) is that when I run or workout I feel about a thousand times better when I’m hydrated. If I’m not? I’m dragging my a$$, feeling sluggish and like I’m carrying a 5000 lb weight around. Not exactly the best feeling. Right? I know I’m not the only one - have you felt this way during a workout or a run? Sucks. Big time.
So…how to drink more water? That’s the big question isn’t it. I have asked myself this question hundreds of times, every year. Maybe even every week. Ha ha. I put this question out to a group of friends to see what got them drinking water everyday. It seems that the most common response (other than ‘omg I find it sooooo hard to drink water!’) was to keep a water bottle filled and with them at all times (this seems to be the only thing that works for me). Other common responses were drinking before every meal (helps curb appetite), keeping a water bottle in the car, using water in morning smoothies instead of milk, adding bubbles to make it sparkling water, drinking herbal tea all day long, getting a water cooler, keeping a huge jug of water in the fridge, adding lemon/lime slices, and drinking Perrier with dinner. There are several apps out there to assist you with drinking more water…seriously, I swear there’s an app for anything. Check it out: Water Tracker - Drink More Water, by AppsForBrain.com. $2.79. OR free - Daily Water Free - Water Reminder by Maxwell Software, or Waterlogged. Most of them track your water consumption and send you reminders to drink more water. You can hook these up to your phones. Cool? Yes. I used a free one but found it to be a bit too much work. Bottom line….just fill your water bottle (yes with water…) and drink.
Wondering about some other fun ideas to get yourself drinking more water? You can add any citrus fruit or even some vegetables for flavouring. You can even freeze little bits of fruit, or cucumber and use them as ice cubes, or in ice cubes in your glass of water. Maybe you are a straw person? Get yourself a funky straw and sip water all day long! There are some pretty wild and crazy straws out there (krazystraws.com). Invest in a super cool water bottle if that will get you drinking more, there are millions of options out there - head over to www.thewirecutter.com - they’ve done loads of research and tested 22 different water bottles…you can find out what their faves are before shopping.
A couple other things to consider: that somewhere between 2 and 4pm low energy feeling - it’s usually from not being hydrated, same as a headache-drink water to feel better! Load up on water-rich foods: watermelon, cucumber, celery and lettuce. These will also keep you fuller longer. When you are having cocktails, try to match your drinks 1:1 with water. I know this doesn’t sound ‘cool’ or ‘fun’ but it will save you from feeling total UGH the next day! And finally, super important to remember…make sure that when you are exercising, you are sipping water throughout your workouts. It will take some practice if you’re not used to doing this, here’s a tip: get a friend to bug you every time…trust me, it will work. I was average, at best, at carrying a water
bottle with me through a workout, and almost never (ok never) carried water with me on a long run. Having a friend pretty much yell at me in frustration because I didn’t bring water on our runs got me bringing water on our long runs. You have to replace what you are sweating out, so be diligent here. There are only perks here - you drink water while running and you’re going to feel better :).
Now would be a good time to go get a glass of water. Thirsty now aren’t you…