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How to Avoid Dehydration | Nutrition Gone Wild

How to Avoid Dehydration and Meet Your Daily Water Intake Needs

You probably don’t drink enough water.

Doctors report that 75% of people don’t get enough water. And you can’t live without water for more than 7 days…but you can live without food for a month!

Most of us don’t and for some reason, it just seems really hard to remember to down some H2O on the regular.

I mean 60% of the human body is made up of water, so staying hydrated is really important.

But how much do you need? How do you know if you aren’t getting enough? How much water do you lose every day?

SO MANY QUESTIONS!

Let’s dive into this mystery headfirst and find the answer to why avoiding dehydration is so important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle…

 

What does water do in your body?

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Water takes care of all kinds of important jobs!

Water performs the following functions in the body:

  • Needed by the brain to make neurotransmitters and hormones
  • Makes saliva
  • Keep body membranes moist
  • Regulate body temperature
  • Helps cells of the body to grow, reproduce, and survive
  • Cushion the brain and spinal cord
  • Flushes body waste (hello, urine!)
  • Lubricates joints
  • Helps deliver oxygen to the body

 

How much water do you need every day?

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Without any kind of major extra physical activity, most adults will lose between two to three quarts of water per day just by existing. This means that even if you aren’t out there getting your exercise or drink on, you need to be drinking water.

Water needs are not the same for everyone.

One way to calculate your water needs is based on body weight:

Take your bodyweight and multiply by ⅔ or 67%. (so for me, 115lbs x ⅔ = 76.67 oz)

Then you need to adjust for activity level:

For every 30 minutes of activity you get each day, you should add 12 ounces of water to your daily total.

You should never use your sense of thirst as a marker for dehydration. By the time you have a thirst, you are already quite dehydrated. Which leads me to my next point…

 

Signs of dehydration

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Dehydration moves through stages from mild, to moderate, to severe. You can start to feel the effects of dehydration with as little as a

You can start to feel the effects of dehydration with as little as a 2% water loss. Mild dehydration is considered a water loss of 2-5%. Moderate dehydration is considered a loss of 6-10% and is a water loss of medical concern. Severe dehydration, that usually results in hospitalization, is a water loss of 11-15%.

Signs of mild and moderate dehydration:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output (HAVE YOU PEED RECENTLY?)
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Signs of severe dehydration:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Irritability and confusion
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be darker than normal
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Fever
  • In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

It’s important that you know the signs of dehydration so you don’t end up past the point of mild dehydration. Sometimes when you are feeling an unsatisfiable hunger, you may just be thirsty. If you ate recently but feel like you could keep eating, have a glass of water, or two. This is a sign that you probably haven’t hydrated enough.

 

Water alternatives

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There are many of us who make the excuse that you don’t like drinking water. You say it doesn’t taste good, that its flavor is too boring, or you just prefer drinking other things.

There are other ways to get more water without having to drink plain water all the time.

Coconut water

Coconut water is a great alternative to water to get more hydrated. It has a high potassium content for keeping your electrolyte levels adequate, which also helps to maintain hydration. While studies have not found coconut water to be MORE hydrating than plain water (unless salt was added), it is at least as effective.

The only thing you need to keep in mind is that coconut water is not calorie free like water. For more about the benefits of coconut water (especially if you are hungover), you can read more in my hangover cures article.

Infused water

Becoming more and more popular, water infusers are widely available to be bought and used at home.

Luckily you don’t have to buy a fancy kitchen tool to make your water taste like your favorite fruits. You can go the more traditional route by adding citrus fruits like lemon, lime, or orange slices. This choice is good when you don’t have time to let your water sit around and infuse for hours. Or for something more interesting, you can use things like mint, lemongrass, cucumber, cinnamon sticks, watermelon, berries, or basil.

Two of my favorite infused water combinations are orange slices with cinnamon sticks, and strawberries with basil. 

Another way to make sure you are staying hydrated is by getting all your servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Your fruits and vegetables are mostly made up of water, so having adequate plant-based foods in your diet will help stave off the dehydration too.

 

Tips for getting more water every day

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  1. Down a tall glass of water first thing in the morning. Doing this in the A.M. can help fire up your metabolism and rehydrate you after a long sleep. It may even make you eat less, which is a plus if you are watching your weight. For a couple of added benefits, consider adding lemon to your morning H20 routine. Drinking luke-warm lemon water can help boost your immune system, brighten your skin, and cleanse your liver
  2. Before eating a meal, drink 2 glasses (2-8 oz glasses). If you are trying to prevent your bad habit of eating too much during meal time, studies have shown that getting enough water helps to stop this overeating. If you do this before each meal you are already guaranteed to get 48 oz of water into your daily routine!
  3. Keep water bottles in your room for when you’re sleeping. You can drink water before you hit the sack so you don’t wake up dehydrated in the morning, and keep yourself hydrated all night long without having to worry about getting up to go grab water in the middle of the night.
  4. Get a favorite reusable water bottle, like a Hydroflask or Nalgene. You can make a goal to refill and finish that bottle X number of times a day until you meet your daily water needs. If you are anything like me, meeting a goal every day (even if the goal is as simple as drinking water) makes you feel better about yourself. Just like you set goals for yourself at work or the gym, drinking enough water every day is a great health goal. You can even download a water-tracking phone app to help you track your H20 intake, although I’ll admit that it’s hard to commit to entering every drop of water you may consume in a day…
  5. Or, switch up your options with some carbonated water! Sometimes a little bit of bubbles in your water can make you feel like you are having something new and different. It keeps your water drinking from becoming monotonous throughout your day. Like I mentioned earlier about infusing your water, you can also infuse your carbonated water with your favorite fruits to really mix it up. Just make sure you check the sodium levels of your carbonated water. Sometimes there is added sodium in seltzers, club sodas or mineral water. Make sure yours is low sodium. 

 

Get your water on!  

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Water isn’t the most exciting subject, but it is SO IMPORTANT! You can’t live without it.

Getting creative with your water intakes can make meeting your daily water needs less of a bore. And if you are one who like to get out to the party every weekend or hit the gym every day, your water needs are even higher.

Plus, if you live in the United States, you should be thankful for the readily available clean water running out of your sink that you can safely drink. Not everyone in the world is so fortunate and often many people have to go to great lengths just to get hydrated, so drink up!

If you have more questions about getting enough water or have a great tip to share for getting more water every day, tweet me and give me the scoop!

Even a nutritionist like me sometimes forgets to drink enough water…

No judgment here.

And don’t forget, if you learned something or really loved this article, don’t be selfish and keep it to yourself 😉

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  • How to Avoid Dehydration | Nutrition Gone Wild

    How to Avoid Dehydration and Meet Your Daily Water Intake Needs

    You probably don’t drink enough water. Doctors report that 75% of people don’t get enough water. And you can’t live without ...
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About Kaitlin Cushman


Welcome to Nutrition Gone Wild. I'm Kaitlin, I have 2 degrees in nutrition, and I want to make a promise to you: I'm going to offer advice that is easy, beneficial, and applicable to your everyday life. This advice is meant to empower you to make these small changes that ultimately will benefit your overall health without taking the fun out of your daily schedule. Join me on this journey to living health(ier), wild and free!

Being healthy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good cocktail…

12 Guilt Free Cocktail Recipes with Kaitlin Cushman

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Half the calories, all the fun.