Why Hydration is Important (Plus 4 Tips to Stay Hydrated)
by Were In This Together Company Inc
A year ago
When it comes to hydration, many of us assume drinking water is all it takes. However, water is only part of the equation. And while it’s common knowledge that hydration is important, many of us don’t fully understand the reason why.
The main reason hydration is so important is because it protects you from the potentially dangerous side effects of dehydration.
The Mental and Physical Side Effects of Dehydration
Dehydration negatively affects the mind and body in numerous ways.
Not surprisingly, hydration plays a major role in brain function.
Studies show “even mild dehydration – a body water loss of 1–2% - can impair cognitive abilities” in both men and women.
“Problems with cognitive performance that can occur with mild dehydration include poor concentration, increased reaction time, and short-term memory problems, as well as moodiness and anxiety, according to the study. “Water consumption affects cognitive performance in adults and an adequate daily water intake is important for maintaining optimal cognitive functioning.”
Let’s face it: When we’re dehydrated, we’re more lethargic, and low energy oftentimes also means low mood.
“In women, aspects of mood (i.e. vigor, alertness, fatigue, calmness, confusion, happiness) were negatively affected during fluid deprivation,” according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
In another study, researchers examined athletes and the effects of dehydration on cognition and mood. Students were split into two groups: the dehydration group (not given fluids during athletic activity) and control group (given water during athletic activity). After analyzing their short-term memory and mood scales, “researchers found that dehydration was associated with negative mood, including fatigue and confusion, compared to the hydrated group.”
In short, dehydration impacts our mental, emotional and physical health.
Dehydration is especially dangerous during physical activity. Research shows that the more dehydrated you are, the more your physical performance suffers.
In severe cases, when left untreated, dehydration can lead to potentially fatal health problems such as seizures, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, kidney failure and comas.
“From a sports perspective, losing as little as 2% of your body weight in fluids – for example, 2.8 pounds (representing about 44 ounces of water) in a 140-pound marathoner – can cause measurable decreases in performance,” Livestrong reports. “Dehydration of more than 3% of your body weight is serious, increasing the possibility of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in warm and/or humid conditions. Since athletes can sweat out 6% to 10% of their body weight during competition, you can see the importance of rehydrating.”
4 Tips to Stay Hydrated
Recommended water intake varies from person to person. As a guide to help prevent dehydration, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) created an Adequate Intake (AI) for water, which lists the AI for water and fluid intake for all ages.
It’s important to note that while this chart outlines water needs, there are other factors to take into consideration in terms of hydration needs. This includes body weight, level of physical activity and the environment.
“When it comes to hydration, the general recommendation is 6 to 8 glasses a day, but keep in mind that’s just a baseline and one size does not fit all,” says Dr. Frank Lipman, doctor of functional and integrative medicine. “Your prescription should be based on your individual needs, taking into account your age, weight, activity level, climate, etc. Another way to ballpark how much hydration your body needs is to simply drink roughly half your body weight – in ounces, that is!”
The bottom line: Water needs vary based on the individual, but as a general rule of thumb, drink half of your body weight in ounces each day.
The TB12 Method is a training guide based on Tom Brady’s routine to help people achieve optimal physical and mental performance.
Tom Brady’s method “combines pliability, nutrition, hydration, resistance band strength training, and cognitive health, to prepare your body and mind to do what you love, longer.”
In his book, The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance, Brady writes, “Try not to drink too much water during a meal, as it can interfere with digestion. Wait an hour or so after you’re done eating before you drink water, since water washes away the body’s natural enzymes, which break down your food. Rule of thumb: Drink more water before and after meals than during meals.” (p. 212)
This may seem counter intuitive, but exercise increases circulation throughout your body and can help with your electrolytes and nutrient absorption. Whether it’s walking, running, or weight training, movement is scientifically proven to improve hydration.
Also, the duration of exercise effects the amount of fluids you should be consuming.
"If you are exercising less than 40 minutes, water is fine, but for anything over 40 minutes, you want a sports drink that has sugar or salt in it because this helps you increase the fluid that goes into the body,” says sports medicine expert Lewis G. Maharam, MD. “Most sports drinks contain the equivalent of an "active pump" that gets more water into the body faster than the unassisted process - simple diffusion of water - would have.”
Proper hydration is about preparation. When it comes to staying hydrated in the heat, “take 10 days to two weeks to get used to hot weather, building workout intensity and duration gradually," Maharam says. “Engage in higher-intensity activities during cooler morning hours and do easier work during the heat of the afternoon.”
While fruits and vegetables are known for being nutritious, many people don’t realize the hydration benefits. In fact, approximately 20 percent of your daily water intake comes from fruit and vegetables.
“Eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content can help you reach your hydration goals and meet your recommended nutrient intake simultaneously,” says Dr. Mehmet Oz.
According to study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, regular intake of fruits and vegetables improved hydration levels in children.
Here are some of the most hydrating fruits and vegetables:
- Bell peppers
Don’t underestimate the importance of hydration! Stay hydrated to stay healthy!