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“Drink more water.” We hear it all the time. While most of us trust that water is good for us, do we really pause to question “why” and how much exactly do we need? Below, we’re giving you the lowdown on all things hydration and H20 related.
From a biological standpoint, plain ol’ water is pretty impressive. It supports healthy cell function and transports essential nutrients needed throughout our body, helps to cushion your joints, assists with maintaining electrolyte balance and body temperature, and plays a role in waste elimination. Unfortunately, the body’s thirst mechanism is not the most reliable, and by the time our brain signals, “Hey, I’m thirsty!” you may already be dehydrated. Insufficient fluid intake has been shown to negatively impact our mood, may cause strain on our hearts, and lead to a potential heatstroke. So, it’s important to keep on top of it – especially during the dog days of summer.
The adage, “drink eight glasses of water a day,” is sort of an old wives’ tale since fluid needs increase with increased physical activity and as the weather heats up. Even so, the 8-cup model can be a helpful guideline for ensuring that you’re getting plenty of liquid throughout the day. A better indicator is actually the color of your urine. Your goal is to keep it pale yellow to clear. Any darker and you’ll want to drink up!
Not only is water inexpensive, but it’s also calorie-free and sugar-free, which is part of the reason why it’s continuously touted for its health benefits. As Americans, we tend to over-consume added sugar in the form of beverages, with common culprits being enhanced waters, sodas, and sports drinks. And while you may be reaching for a sports drink with the best of intentions, most of us can replenish with plain water. The exception: those working daily in heat or those engaging in intense physical activity for long durations – sports drinks were designed with these individuals in mind!
Adults over the age of 71 are also at a heightened risk of dehydration, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, so these individuals need to be particularly mindful of their fluid intake. Multiple factors could be to blame, including reduced appetite, changes in body composition, alterations in thirst perception, and impaired kidney function.
McKenzie is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, nutrition writer and communicator, who truly loves meeting and connecting with people. Grounded in science with an integrative and holistic approach, she aims to make the world a healthier, happier place by helping people feel their best from the inside out and encouraging others to restore a judgment-free relationship with food. McKenzie has been a contributing editor for the award-winning publicationEnvironmental Nutrition and her numerous articles, nutrition tips, and recipes can be found in publications such as The Chicago Tribune, Today’s Dietitian, Food and Nutrition Magazine, and more.
McKenzie graduated magna cum laude from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a degree in Nutrition and completed her dietetic internship at Bastyr University in Seattle. She is a member of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a member of the dietetic practice group, Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine. When she’s not dishing out nutrition tidbits, you can find McKenzie cooking in her sunny kitchen, hiking along with her favorite Southern California trails, or packing her bags and heading out for her next adventure.