For National Hydration Day on June 23, Deepa Iyengar, MD, a family doctor with UT Physicians, explains why it is important to fill up on nature’s perfect drink – water!
“About 60% of our body is water. Water helps us maintain our balance of electrolytes. Electrolytes contain specialized minerals, such as potassium and magnesium, to help keep us healthy,” said Iyengar, professor of family and community medicine and Stanley G. Schultz, MD, Endowed Professor in Global Health at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.
“Like a car, when our fluid levels are too low, it will start to affect and drain every part of the body – our brain, our kidneys, our joints. We need to stay hydrated to keep our organs functioning normally and our bodies running,” Iyengar said.
In addition to dull and dry skin, bad breath, mind fog, fatigue, urinary infections, and other side effects of dehydration, a lack of H20 in the body may lead to more serious health problems, including seizures, blood clots, and kidney stones.
“Kidneys are like water pumps. They take out everything your body doesn’t need or want,” Iyengar said. “When our kidneys don’t have the water they need, they can’t clean and restore our bodies like they should.”
Though it can vary based on height, weight, and activity level, Iyengar recommends 3.5 liters of water a day for men and 2.5 liters a day for women. This is equivalent to about fourteen 8-ounce glasses of water for most men and nearly eleven 8-ounce glasses of water for most women.
Drinking well more than a half gallon of water each day may seem like a tall order, but it can be done with some good lifestyle habits:
- Drink a glass of water in the morning to wake up and one at night to sleep better.
- Drink a glass of water with meals and snacks.
- Drink a glass of water before each meal to help fill the stomach.
- Always keep a full pitcher or jug of water in the refrigerator and on the kitchen counter so it is always available and visible.
- Fill up a travel bottle with water each morning to take to work or when running errands.
- Sip water throughout the day, especially in the afternoon, to help fight grogginess.
- Always take an extra travel bottle of water when working out or playing sports to replace lost fluids from exertion.
- Always take an extra travel bottle of water to outdoor activities or events to replace lost fluids from the heat.
- It is also all right to drink other beverages in moderation to stay hydrated.
“You can count glasses of milk, juice, and even soups toward your daily intake, but at least 75% of your fluids should be water because water provides the perfect pH balance for our bodies,” Iyengar said. “Other beverages, like soda, coffee, teas, sports drinks, can also count, but they can contain caffeine, sugar, and other things the body doesn’t need. Drink mostly water to stay hydrated and healthy.”