by Dr. Natasha Turner ND
According to the Dietitians of Canada, our bodies are comprised of 60 to 70 percent water, which we need to, “digest food, carry nutrients, remove waste, cushion organs and maintain fluid and electrolyte balance.” But studies show we are just not hydrated enough. If you lose more fluid than you take in, you get dehydrated. Young children and seniors are at higher risk of becoming dehydrated. They need to drink fluids throughout the day. With the first heat wave of 2018 recently soaking us in sweat and what is touted to be a hot summer ahead, now is the perfect time to keep these tips handy.
1. Calculate Your Specific Daily Water Intake
Dr. Turner ND uses this formula to calculate daily intake for her patients.
Your weight (lbs) x .55 = x
X divided by 8 = amount of cups (if you prefer litres then divide this number by 4)
2. Eat Water?
When I tell my patients their body is dehydrated, they often admit they don’t drink enough water. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggests for males to consume 3.7 litres of water per day, while women should consume 2.7 litres. With this suggestion, you might consider installing a hose at your desk! Nonetheless, there are plenty of other ways we can get our daily intake of water that doesn’t require being a slave to the water bottle. And yes, it’s chewable! In a study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers showed that eating foods with high water content satisfies our appetites more than drinking a glass of water on its own or with solid food. A whopping 20% of your daily water intake should actually come from food! This study shows that cucumbers have the highest water content, rolling in at 96.7%! A suggested trick in the past has been to have a glass of water before eating, but a study done by the Clinical Journal of Nutrition claims it won’t make a difference. On the contrary, eating foods that contain water naturally will make you more full. As you can see, including these foods in your daily regiment is not only satisfying but hydra-licious!
Recommendation: Focusing on fruits and vegetables can be your saving grace. High-water fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe and blueberries, and vegetables such as cucumber, zucchini, and tomato are all very high in water content. These low-glycemic foods also tend to be low in calories, which means we can eat significant amounts of them to control hunger. They also balance our hormones because high-water, high-fiber, low-calorie, low-glycemic foods limit insulin release and also stretch our stomachs, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The Mayo Clinic suggests the appetite-suppressing hormone CCK is released from that stretched stomach, which sends the message to our brain that we are full.
3. Sea Salt
When we consume heavily salty foods (think Chinese takeout), we have the tendency to feel even thirstier. This is no surprise to Health Canada. They state that Canadians consume 3,400 mg of sodium per day, which is double the amount our bodies require. We do not recommend eating processed foods or too much take out BUT we are a fan of sea salt.
Not all salt is made the same, for instance, sea salt contains over 80 traces of minerals that will work deep within your system to replenish your cells through electrolytes while helping your body to quickly become hydrated.
Health Canada recommends 1,000 to 1,500 mg of sodium daily, so only a small pinch is required. As an added bonus, sea salt provides additional benefits such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium to keep your bones strong and maintain great health. Drinking water with sea salt to replenish electrolytes is a much better option than grabbing a sugary sports drink which we do NOT recommend.
Recommendation: One small pinch of Celtic Sea Salt with water after waking up or mid-afternoon. This will allow the salt to retain some water, providing you instant hydration.
4. Natural Flavour
The biggest complaint people have with water is the taste. It can especially be hard for people to swap in water if they’re used to juice or pop because the flavour is lackluster in comparison. With both juice and pop being filled with sugar the question is, how do we make water taste good?
You could go to any grocery store and come across flavours to add to your water, but you might find yourself with a chemical-based liquid in the end. This study found that the majority of commercially available water with flavourings caused a significant amount of dental erosion while containing several chemicals that can lead to more physical damage. The best option is to stick with natural flavourings to perk up your taste buds.
Bottom line: Make some “Delicious Water” by adding fresh fruits to your water and let the natural sweetness come through. Citrus peels, such as lemon and lime, can improve the taste. Don’t be scared to mix in exotic fruits and fresh herbs like watermelon and mint or raspberry and basil to add an extra “pop”! If you’re looking to add some flavour and vitamins, try Creatine, BCAA and Antioxidants, a great-tasting strength, and energy formula to help fuel your body during your workout and replenish glycogen stores once you’re done. It also contains creatine – one of the only supplements proven to increase energy, according to the Public Library of Science. They also add that supplements of creatine monohydrate (5 grams per day) and conjugated linoleic acid or CLA (3–6 grams per day) can boost the benefits of exercise even further. Naturally produced by our body and present in meat, creatine is known to supply our muscles with energy. The result? A stronger, leaner, healthier body.
Other Great Reasons to Chug H20:
1) A study that showed when people who opted to drink 2 glasses of water before each meal lost 44% more weight than the people who dived right into their meals. While water won’t provide your body with additional nutrients or make you full, putting fluids in your body allows your brain to alter the portion size you consume.
2) Our hormones don’t just dictate when and what we want to eat, they also control our thirst. If we’re dehydrated, the stress hormone NPY increases and tells us to drink. Beware: dehydration can also cause us to reach for a snack instead of a thirst-quenching beverage. So, get plenty of water! Or snack on foods that have a lot of water content.
3) Health experts say that water indirectly aids fat loss by keeping the kidneys functioning at their best. Optimal kidney function leaves the liver free to do its job as one of our primary fat-burning engines. If the kidneys are stressed, the liver has to pick up the slack. In other words – keep chugging to keep your liver happy!
4.) Boost brain power. A recent April 2018 study, presented at the American Physiological Society (APS) annual meeting at Experimental Biology in San Diego, explored the association between hydration status before exercising and exercise-enhanced cognition in older adults. Dehydration was shown to impair exercise performance and brain function in young people, but less is known about its impact on older populations. “Middle-age and older adults often display a blunted thirst perception, which places them at risk for dehydration and subsequently may reduce the cognitive health-related benefits of exercise,” a team of New England-based researchers wrote. The research team tested the volunteers’ urine before they exercised and divided them into two groups — normal hydration and dehydrated — based on their hydration status. The hydrated group showed noticeable improvement in the completion time of the cognitive test after cycling when compared to their pre-cycling test. The dehydration group also completed their post-cycling test more quickly, but the time reduction was not significant. The researchers found that older adults should adopt adequate drinking behaviors to reduce cognitive fatigue and potentially enhance the cognitive benefits of regular exercise participation. Tip – remember to schedule in your water break! Put reminders on your phone OR get a free app – try Daily Water or My Water Balance.
Water can set the foundation for your health. Always keep some water on hand to benefit from all the reasons above. In both the long and short term, your body will thank you!