Hydration: How to Stay Hydrated in 6 Steps
Water is vital for your health and for hydration, and there are many reasons you should drink enough water daily. To stay hydrated, you need to consume enough water and other hydrating liquids to keep your body functioning properly.
If you are dehydrated, some common side effects include headaches, lack of energy, weight gain, lack of detoxification and weakened immune response. That’s why it’s vital to know how to stay hydrated for your body, health conditions and lifestyle.
How to Stay Hydrated
The answer on how to stay hydrated is generally drinking between 25 percent and 50 percent of your body weight in ounces of water or other hydrating beverages daily. So if you weigh 160 pounds, you want to get between 40–80 ounces of hydrating fluids per day.
This just further proves how vital proper hydration is, and if you’re wondering how to stay hydrated, here are some key ways:
1. Drink Enough Water
While water isn’t the only factor when it comes to staying hydrated, it does start with water. Your No. 1 goal should be to start drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water or hydrating fluids each day.
While you should pay attention to the amount of water being consumed, the amount of fluids that leave your body is important as well. If you’re exercising or outside on a hot day, you’ll lose far more fluids than when you’re sitting at home or work, for example, and will therefore need to drink even more glasses of water that day.
Urinating is also a natural detoxifier and rids the body of fluids that need to be replenished, which is why you need to rehydrate throughout the day.
2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Step two is getting more fruits and vegetables in your diet because they are hydrating and nutrient-dense foods.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the contribution fruits and vegetables had on hydration in children. Researchers studied the dietary records and urine samples of 442 school children and found that regular intake of fruits and vegetables relatively improved the hydration status in participants.
Some of the most hydrating foods include:
- Bell peppers
- Citrus fruit
- Iceberg lettuce
3. Balance Electrolytes
On top of their water content, fruits and vegetables are packed with electrolytes like magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium. You need to get high-quality sources of electrolytes in your system because they are key components on how to stay hydrated.
Fruits and vegetables help combat electrolyte imbalance, which in turn aids hydration.
The University of Montana compared the effects of a plain water solution vs. a water and electrolyte solution on hydration status, body temperature and changes in drinking water during wildfire suppression. Sixteen firefighters participated, with eight drinking plain water and eight drinking the water/electrolyte additive mixture.
Researchers found that adding electrolytes to plain water decreased overall fluid consumption, concluding that “supplementing water with electrolytes can reduce the amount of fluid necessary to consume and transport during extended activity. This can minimize carrying excessive weight, possibly reducing fatigue during extended exercise.”
4. Consume Sea Salt
Another thing you want to do is get all-natural sea salt — either Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt — and sprinkle a little bit on your food as well. The benefits of sea salt all center around hydration because when you drink water, you also need sodium and potassium.
Sea salt helps balance your water and potassium levels due to its sodium content, in addition to alkalizing the body, and research shows that sodium and potassium enhance hydration.
It may seem counterintuitive to exercise for hydration, but research suggests that physical movement increases circulation and improves overall electrolyte levels, getting more nutrients to your cells.
Any form of exercise can support this, whether it’s cardiovascular training, burst training, weight training or just going out and walking.
6. Avoid Dehydrating Beverages
To stay hydrated, it’s important to avoid sugary drinks (and foods), alcohol and caffeine. These dehydrating drinks increase urination and electrolyte loss.
Plus, sugar-filled drinks and alcohol can cause inflammation and other nasty side effects, like brain fog, headaches and blood sugar fluctuations.
Importance and Benefits of Hydration
Proper hydration is so key to your overall health and protecting yourself from dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. This is crucial because dehydration can seriously impact not only your physical well-being, but mental health too.
Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University studied the effects of water balance and cognitive function. They discovered that mild dehydration — as little as losing 1 percent to 2 percent of body water — can impair cognitive performance. This is in contrast to the previously held belief that someone needed to have a 2 percent or greater body water deficit to see cognitive effects.
A 2020 study conducted in Japan found that increasing daily water intake could provide several health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, diluting blood waste material and protecting kidney function.
Staying hydrated allows for the normal function of everyday body processes. Without enough water or hydrating fluids, you’d face serious (even life-threatening) side effects.
Hydration is needed for the following essential functions:
- electrolyte balance
- temperature regulation
- blood pressure normalization
- stabilization of heartbeat
- nutrition and oxygen transportation
- waste and bacteria removal/detoxification
- digestive processes
- muscle repair
- joint cushioning
Risks and Side Effects of Dehydration
There are some factors that put people at risk of dehydration, including:
- people over the age of 65
- infants and children
- people with certain medical conditions (such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease)
- people on certain medications (such as diuretics, thyroid medication and NSAIDs
- people exposed to prolonged heat
Dehydration impacts many areas of the body and can cause minor and major issues. The most common side effects of dehydration include:
- brain fog
- muscle aches
- joint pain
- cold, pale and clammy skin
- changes in pulse
It’s also possible to drink too much water, especially among people with thyroid disease or kidney, liver and heart problems. People with these conditions should speak to their doctors about maintaining hydration.
- To stay hydrated, you need to consume enough water, and other hydrating liquids and foods, to keep your body functioning properly.
- Hydration allows for the normal function of everyday processes, from temperature control to blood pressure and detoxification.
- To stay hydrated, drink enough water for your weight and lifestyle, eat hydrating foods throughout the day, exercise, and keep electrolytes balanced.