Alright welcome to the ABC’s of health and today it’s all about hydrate, letter H.
So this is an exciting one, this is a fun one. I would like to talk about water. Water for me personally was one of the things that became a superpower when I understood that it was really really good for me and that it could help me so much with so many things.
The questions are:
Am I drinking enough water?
How much water should I drink?
Does coffee count as water?
I personally don’t drink coffee but that’s a question that I get a lot.
First, how much water should you drink? Now there’s no hard number for this because this is just so variable. I’m going to give you the rule of thumb. It is generally agreed upon that 8 to 10 cups of water is a good thing for a healthy adult to aim for. Now, that being said, there are so many factors that influence how much water your body needs. Our bodies are made up of about 60% of water, our brains are massively made up of water, we need water in our cells, our muscles, bodily fluids… there’s a lot of water that is necessary for a body to function well. Water is important.
That being said, how much water you need is very very variable, because of how much you urinate during the day, how much you sweat throughout the day, if you live in a warmer climate or is it a warm season, are sweating more and therefore you need more water, do you live in a cold climate or is it a cold season and you’re just not sweating as much, are you pregnant or are you breastfeeding, are you an athlete, are you training for something specific, do you have water retention… the list could go on.
There are so many factors that go into how much water to drink, so the first thing for you to think about is this: are you thirsty? If you get to the point of being thirsty, like oh I’m parched, I need need need, water then you went a little far. You should have had water a little sooner, but you also don’t have to make yourself consume water just because you had a random number in your head and you want to reach that amount of water.
This sounds a bit vague because there is no hard answer on this, and while excess water is a very serious issue it’s very hard for people to actually get to the point where they drink enough water to become an issue. You don’t want to be chugging water like it’s the solution to every single health issue that you may be feeling. The first thing is to not get to the point of very thirsty, if you’re thirsty drink water, but try to find signs before that or to incorporate a few habits before you get to the point of saying I’m really thirsty, I have to have water.
Anything you drink counts as water, but there are things that are better or worse for you in terms of health. For example, the cleaner the water the better it is for you, and when you drink for example juices or artificially sweetened waters, while they are hydrating you, they are also giving you a lot of added sugar that isn’t really what you want, and when it comes to juice drinks and pop and energy drinks and sweetened drinks, all those things, while they will hydrate you, they’re not your best choice in terms of health, so for reasons other than hydration you don’t want that to be the sole source of your water.
When it comes for example to tea and coffee this idea that coffee dehydrates has been debunked, and your best option for tea and coffee would the most unchanged forms. The more you sweeten or cream them the less they are benefiting your health.
It’s all about a bit of a balance, but nothing beats actual water. Personally I love water, it’s what I drink 90% of the time.
A few side benefits of drinking water is that it may help you eat less because when you go to eat your body is just sufficiently balanced in that sense so that you’re not confusing hunger with thirst. That being said I’m not telling you to drink a litre of water before you eat so that your stomach is full of water, simply drink a cup before meals or sip during meals. Sipping during meals will have the added benefit of helping you take some breaks in your meal and slow down, which is proven to help portion control.
Also, hydrate during exercise because we do lose a lot of water we sweat a lot during exercise. In warm climates or in warm seasons, if you’re outside doing anything physical, up your hydration.
So there you have it. Being hydrated is important because your body needs water to function well, your cells need water, your digestive process needs water, your tears need water, your sweat, your urine, your bones, etc etc. So let’s not skimp on the water.
There are two ways you can easily monitor if you’re getting enough water:
1. Are you thirsty? Not parched and desperate, just thirsty. If yes, you need water.
2. An excellent way to monitor your hydration is your urine. If your urine is very yellow, it means that you need to pay attention to your water intake. Remember that toilet water dilutes urine, so it’s always a shade or so darker than what you see. If you are well hydrated, it’s clear to very light yellow urine. If you’re in the light yellowish colour then you know it’s time for you to drink some water. If you’re going into the dark yellow to brown color you need to drink water NOW. Your goal is to consistently have clear to very light yellow urine.
Don’t feel like you have to drink 3 liters of water besides whatever it is that you enjoy, just remember that a very sneaky way that our body consumes a lot of sugar is through drinks. Drinking our calories is a big way that calories are consumed without being felt, so just pay attention to that and try to increase the water with less additions and decrease the water that has flavours and sugars and all those things. Pay attention to thirst cues and urine.
Keeping it simple,