- March. 21 2019
Have you ever really tracked how much water you drink in a day? Like most people, you probably take a guesstimate, thinking, “I probably get in about 6-8 glasses a day and I drink coffee and soda, so that counts too right?”
But do you really drink enough water? And, is this amount enough for your body?
Water is an essential player in every function that takes place within the body. 70% of the human body is actually made up of water. Along with the obvious involvement in saliva and “waste”, water also helps to regulate body temperature, flush out toxins (and FAT), regulate hormones, transport nutrients, and cushion and lubricate the brain and joint tissues.
The average adult body expends and must replace 2-3 quarts of water daily. You would think that with the majority of the foods and drinks that we consume being largely made up of water, it would be no problem to replenish this amount throughout the day. That is not the case though for 85% of Americans who walk around partially dehydrated every day.
The guideline of 6-8 eight ounce glasses per day is just that – a guideline. The “right” amount varies so much based on your sex, weight, activity level, medications you are taking, sodium intake, and more.
If you are reading this blog, you are more than likely active on some level so a healthy recommendation for you would be 1 gallon a day if you are a female, 1.5 gallons if you are a male.
I would shy away from counting other foods and liquids toward this recommended amount, as many of those foods or drinks come with bonuses like caffeine, sodium, and fiber that can add to dehydration or water retention. It’s best to just count plain water for your daily quota, in addition to any other foods or drinks.
The average person is typically carrying about 10 pounds of subcutaneous water, or water that is stored just below the skin. This is the water that makes us feel tubby, bloated, Pillsbury-like, puffy, whatever your preferred lingo is.
This retention is due to our everyday life and eating habits, and the goal is to reduce this level to a tolerable and comfortable degree.
With that information in hand, here are some tips for making sure you are meeting your daily intake of water and how to combat excess water retention.
1. Start your day off with a glass of water.
Your body is typically dehydrated when you wake up since you have not had any liquids for many hours.
2. Sip water constantly throughout the day.
Do this regularly throughout the day rather than chugging a glass here and there and your body will be far better able to maintain an equilibrium.
3. Monitor the color of your urine.
If you are properly hydrated, it should be a very light yellow, almost clear. Dark urine is a sign of dehydration.
4. Constipation is often caused by dehydration.
If you have problems with constipation, it could be due to not drinking enough water to balance the fiber intake that comes along with fruits, vegetables, and many grains.
5. Thirst = dehydration.
When you are thirsty, this usually means you are already dehydrated. Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day so that you can keep your water levels consistent.
6. Watch your sodium intake.
We actually need some sodium, but start looking at the nutritional info on the side of packaged foods you regularly eat and you would be amazed at the sodium content. The recommended daily allowance for sodium is currently no more than 2400 mg per day, however correct sodium levels vary depending on how much you sweat, etc.
Overall if you are not that active, keep your sodium intake low (2400 mg or less), if you sweat a lot and are very active, you can afford to go a little higher.
Keep in mind, this is only really necessary if you eat a lot of packaged foods. If you eat primarily whole foods, adding your own salt, it’s not as big of a deal to watch your sodium as you are most likely within a healthy range.
Celtic sea salt or Himalayan sea salt is the best type to buy. It’s more expensive, but it contains tons of minerals that your body will love. You also can’t overdo it with this type of salt like you can with table salt.
7. Make sure that you are getting a proper amount of electrolytes and minerals.
If you are very active, you will need to replace your electrolytes. The average person doesn’t need to drink electrolyte replacement drinks, such as Gatorade, if they work out for less than an hour a day.
Just make sure you are eating a wide range of fruits, veggies, and whole foods in general and you should be okay. Adding in the Celtic sea salt, as mentioned above, is a great option too. Also, I would stay away from drinking steamed distilled water, as it pulls minerals from the body.
8. Make sure you are getting enough potassium.
This is directly related to sodium and water balance. The daily requirement is 2-4 grams. Good sources of potassium are bananas, coconut water, potatoes, beets, melons, peaches, avocados, tomatoes, fish, white meats, and raw nuts.
9. Try to keep stress levels low.
Hormones play a large role in water retention (women know this best). While it’s difficult for us to control Progesterone levels for women, and Testosterone levels for men, we can at least have some effect on our Adrenal (stress hormone) levels.
10. Carbs retain water.
Carbs are our friend and an essential part of a healthy diet, just keep in mind they soak up water. So when you’re eating a large percentage of carbs, you will in turn carry a higher percentage of water. Just a fact.
Not a reason to drastically restrict carbs, but just something to be aware of. The more whole food carbohydrates you eat (rather than processed), the better, as they typically don’t bring that much added sodium to the party as well.