Monday, November 5, 2012

4 Ways to Know You Are Drinking Enough Water

Although our water needs vary, starting your day with a glass of water will help get you hydrated from the get-go.

Woman drinking a glass of water in a bathrobe.
Start your day right by drinking a glass of water right out of bed.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. In fact, our water needs vary from person to person. We consume water in the foods we eat (fruits and vegetables) and the beverages we drink. Instead of counting ounces, follow these straightforward guidelines to find balance for your body:

  • Urine — Check your color. A hydrated body will produce clear urine as opposed to yellow or darker pigments, which indicate dehydration.
  • Skin — Skin elasticity is largely dependant on its water content. Well-hydrated skin is sure to be supple and moist with water suspended in its membranes.
  • Energy — Every reaction in our bodies, either directly or indirectly, uses water. High energy levels are a good sign that your powerhouse (made of about 60 percent water) is fueled and running efficiently. If you are fatigued and think it may be water related, you should experience relief within about an hour of drinking 16 to 32 ounces.
  • Regularity — The foods we eat bind water for easy elimination. Bowel regularity is a good place to ensure your water status is in check. When our hydration stores are low, our body will take water from wherever it can find it — especially the colon where it is needed to soften stool. Keep hydrated to keep regular.

Prevention is key when it comes to staying properly hydrated. Get an early start and drink a glass of water right out of bed. Throughout the day, make water accessible by carrying a reusable bottle. If water’s flavor is too plain for your taste buds, make a splash by adding a slice of citrus fruit or cucumber to your glass. Using these tips you can gauge your water tank intuitively.

— Hayley Segal, MS, dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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