When you leave the house, do you take water with you? You may care for your body by eating healthy and exercising, but do you ask yourself whether you drank enough water today? This question often is left out of the nutrition conversation, but hydration has an enormous impact on our health and day-to-day functioning. Our body is composed of roughly 60 percent water, and fluid balance affects every major system.
Water is vital to our bodies. I am a committed water drinker with my own filtered water system at home and big bottles I fill daily and drink faithfully. Why? Because water balances everything. Water transports nutrients to organs and cells, carries away toxins, lubricates joints and bones, helps regulate our body temperature and even impacts brain function. Without water, we simply cannot survive. Even a 2 percent decrease in body weight due to fluid losses can impact physical and mental performance.
The benefits of staying well hydrated include weight loss, more energy, headache relief, healthy skin, help with digestive problems and better exercise. Especially during the heat of the summer on our beautiful Coast, we must ensure we are drinking enough water, especially if we are outside at the beach, hiking, bike riding or out on the water.
So, what counts as hydration? Roughly 80 percent of our hydration needs are met by fluids like water, milk and tea. The remaining 20 percent comes from high-water foods like fruits, veggies and yogurt.
Some fluid and food choices are better than others for hydration. For example, alcoholic beverages increase water loss by blocking anti-diuretic hormones. My top fluid choices are water (including sparkling), tea and milk (especially for children). Foods that are good for hydration include low-sodium beef, chicken or vegetable broth, cucumbers, cabbage, zucchini, celery, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, bell peppers and asparagus.
Conversely, you have the fluid depleters, which include alcohol, exercise, warm weather, fever, diarrhea, vomiting and some medications that increase water losses and elevate your risk of dehydration. Remember to listen to your body, as it will show signs of dehydration that include thirst, fatigue, dizziness, dark yellow urine, dry mouth, headache, joint pain and cramps.
What about hydration and exercise? Water losses happen via sweat, and the harder and longer you work out, the more water you lose. Water, however, is not the only thing that escapes from us during exercise. We lose electrolytes like sodium and potassium, too.
Before a workout, hydrate frequently throughout the day, and increase your water intake 15–20 minutes before exercise. While you work out, continue to consume fluids every 20 minutes of exercise, and afterward, drink at least two cups of water for every pound of body weight lost. You also can add a sports drink or electrolyte supplement during and after exercise if you’re a particularly heavy sweater or work out for more than 45 minutes. Make sure to read the labels to avoid the overly sugary sports drinks.
So, remember to stay hydrated for a healthier you! Drink up, and get out there and enjoy our beautiful Coast.
Happy summer! Here’s to sunny days and staying hydrated!
Karol Brandt is an executive host with Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, as well as co-author of the Amazon best-seller “The Struggle is Real: Finally Break the Dieting Cycle, Transform Your Mind and Body, and Evolve into The Person You Have Always Wanted to Be” and the “30-Day Evolve Challenge Journal.” Contact Brandt by email at email@example.com, Facebook/The Struggle Is Real or Instagram at karolbrandtnola.