I’m standing in the checkout line at a convenience store, and I hear the lady in front of me tell the cashier that she’s so thirsty, having commuted all morning in the heat. I get a glimpse at what she’s buying, and its distilled water. It happened again when I was at a restaurant, and I overheard a fellow diner say she’s so dehydrated from this hot and humid weather, and then she ordered a mango shake.
If these people are truly in need of hydration, they just made some pretty poor choices. And with all the beverage options out there, I don’t blame them. I would like to share with you my short hydration cheat sheet with my dos and don’ts on how to best keep your body properly hydrated.
What Does Hydration Do for The Body?
It’s important to understand why hydration is so vital. Water makes up about 60% of an adult body and hydration is the process of replacing that water when it’s expelled from the body.
With this in mind, it’s obvious that the benefits of drinking water are extensive: It’s essential for almost every function in the body. Water acts as a foundational component and a transport material for nutrients and waste all throughout our body. Water also helps maintain proper circulation, regulate our body temperature, and acts as a shock absorber for our joints and our brain. And the best part (at least in my opinion), it keeps our skin moisturized, young, and healthy looking. In short, water is LIFE. Let’s be clear—water, and not mango shake!
How to Avoid Dehydration
In order to prevent dehydration, we should know how much water we should be drinking in the first place. The amount of water you need to drink will depend on several factors, including your age, gender, activity level, and more. However, here’s a general rule when it comes to recommended daily water intake: Women should drink at least 2.21 liters per day and men should drink three liters per day, give or take how much you perspire during these hot, sweaty months.
In order to make sure I get my 2.21 and more liters a day, I follow some of these tips.
1. Make your water bottle your best friend – I take my water bottle everywhere—not just to workouts, but to the office, to appointments, and even when I do errands at the mall. One, it makes sure that I have water readily available to sip on anytime, and two, it prevents me from using single-use plastic bottles. Stay hydrated while saving the environment—double whammy!
2. Match your non-water drink with water – I’m a big coffee drinker—like I probably drink too much, let’s be honest—so when I do drink coffee or a not-purely H20 drink, I try to drink water to match it, sip by sip. Especially with caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea (caffeine is known to cause some mild dehydration), I am extra conscious to drink more water.
4. Examine your bathroom trips – I don’t mean to (theoretically) intrude in your personal space, but I encourage to you take a look at the color of your urine. If it’s a light-yellow color to a barely-any-yellow tint, that’s good. If it’s dark yellow, that’s a common indicator that you’re dehydrated. Drink up now!
Not all water is created equal
I hope by now, it’s clear that drinking water is the best, most-efficient way to stay hydrated. Steer clear from those sugary drinks! With that said, there so many different kinds of water—purified, mineral, distilled, alkaline, infused, carbonated, on the rocks and the list goes on and on! Let me briefly tackle the popular kinds, so you know which one to reach for next time. Here’s the top three I found in my neighborhood convenience store:
Distilled Water – I’m so surprised that distilled water is so common in the Philippines. Almost half of the bottled water options I found are all of the distilled variety. Distilled is a type of purified water wherein all the minerals have essentially been removed. Because it is void of all nutrients and minerals, drinking distilled water can lessen the amount of electrolytes in your body, hence ultimately dehydrating you. How incredibly ironic!
Purified Water – Purified water is water that comes from any source, but has undergone treatment to remove chemicals or pathogens. Types of purification include distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, and filtration. One big advantage with purified water is potentially harmful chemicals have been taken out and the disadvantage is that beneficial minerals may be taken out as well, depending on how it was treated.
Spring Water– This type of water is often mistaken for purified water. Spring water is essentially ground water that was collected at the point it comes to the surface. Because of its origin, the water undergoes a natural filtration process and is often rich in minerals making it extra nourishing and tasty to drink. The downsides are that since it comes from some of the most pristine sources on the earth, they tend to be the more expensive options.
Alkaline Water – This is my current favorite. The water options mentioned above typically land at around 6 or 7 on a pH chart, which is the natural pH. Alkaline water is anywhere between 7 to 14 on the chart due to its mineral content. This generally means that it can help counter and lessen acidity in one’s body—acidity being lower 6 on the chart. Drinking this is believed to help with those who have a highly acidic diet, which is the really the typical Western diet.
So, what is the best hydration option? My answer is water free of contaminants, but rich in minerals—whether it’s purified, spring, or alkaline water—as long as it’s not dirty or distilled. My personal preference? Alkaline water. I’m not quite sure if it’s actually helping, but I believe it helps reduce inflammation in my body which in turn helps keep my weight down and eczema at bay. Also, I like the taste, even better than spring water.
With that said, drinking enough water regularly can help you to lose weight, think better, perform better and more. Next time you feel thirsty or dehydrated, instead of reaching for that fruit shake, sugary sports drink or that bottle of distilled, reach for that mineral water instead. This is one of the best health tips I could offer anyone.