Did you know that most of us are dehydrated? It’s true - 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Although many of us make an effort to drink water throughout the day, our hydrating efforts are offset by the caffeinated and alcoholic beverages we consume (1).
Being dehydrated, chronically or acutely, can have serious consequences. Dehydration causes fatigue, foggy memory, irritability, and more (2).
Studies show that dehydration is linked to losses in concentration and short term memory, with an increase of feelings of anxiety and irritability (3).
Not getting enough water can also lead to more serious health concerns, such as decreased kidney function, kidney stones, hypertension, urinary tract infections, intestinal failure, and dementia (4).
Clearly, staying hydrated is serious business. Luckily, it’s easy and straightforward to make sure you’re getting enough water each day to maintain hydration.
First, make sure you’re drinking enough water. Many sources agree that drinking eight, 8-ounce glasses of water (about 2 liters) is adequate to stay hydrated for most adults. Of course, you’ll need to take your weight and physical activity levels into consideration, and adjust how much water you’re taking in accordingly.
Next, take stock of what you’re drinking during the day. Do you start the morning with coffee, have a caffeinated tea in the afternoon, and end with a glass of wine or cocktail in the evening? If so, you’ll need to factor in extra water to offset these dehydrating beverages. (Tip: A quick and easy way to offset coffee in the morning is to drink a glass of water right when you get up, rather than reaching for the mug. Make it a habit, and your body will thank you!)
You can also enhance your hydration habits by setting alarms throughout the day, reminding you to reach for the glass. Plan on drinking a glass or two around periodic breaks you take during the day. You can also enlist a friend in your hydration efforts, and keep each other accountable and on track.
At the end of the day, staying hydrated is one of the simplest and easiest ways we can take care of our bodies. Make it a habit, and feel the results.