This is not your mama’s health column, and this is not your average health advice. Welcome to The Health Nut-Case, where I will be breaking down crucial health topics for you with the help of Halley Rust, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Denver Wellness & Nutrition – Sodexo. Understanding nutrition-ese isn’t always easy, and that’s why I’m here! To help translate the facts into tips and tricks that will help you lead a healthy, fit life.
Fact or Fiction?
Heading into August, the last and hottest part of the summer, it is important to understand the ins and outs of staying hydrated. But it’s not as easy as it seems. In fact, Rust noted that one of the most common myths about hydration is that we need 8, 8 oz. glasses of water a day!
“The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations for water from all sources, including foods, is 2.7 L (about 11 – 8 oz glasses) for adult women and 3.7 L (about 15.5 – 8oz glasses) for adult men. Physical activity, body size, climate, and altitude affect individual water requirements, as well,” Rust said.
It’s important to pace yourself with water intake. It won’t do your body any good to get up and chug those 11 glasses within the first couple hours of your day. Be consistently drinking water throughout the day, and gulp a few more ounces when you’re feeling a little parched. If you always have a water bottle with you and filled, you’re much more likely to get the right amount of water throughout the day.
Preventing Engine Meltdown
But just how important is it to stay on top of getting enough h2o in our systems? Rust says it can be the difference between your body running like a well-oiled engine and getting gunked up to the point of breaking down.
“Water is the largest single component of the human body, accounting for 60-70% total body weight depending on age and body fat percentage. Water is essential for digestion, absorption, and excretion. It plays a key role in the circulatory system function, maintaining body temperature, and acts as a transport for nutrients. All of these necessary functions can be impacted during dehydration. Loss of 10% of body water may lead to damage of essential body systems and 20% loss may cause death,” Rust said.
And unfortunately, our favorite habits like coffee and tea don’t count toward the total. Caffeinated beverages produce the diuretic effect, sending us to the bathroom more often and thus causing quicker fluid loss, which requires more fluid intake to make up for it.
Even though the baseline of 11, 8 oz glasses a day is a good rule of thumb to go by, there are a number of factors to consider in your own personal hydration needs.
“Physical activity, body size, climate, and altitude affect individual water requirements, as well,” Rust said.
Listening to your body and understanding what daily habits you have that might affect the amount of water you should be drinking is important. Be alert for the signs of dehydration, especially in the sweltering heat of the later summer months.
Rust says they can include headaches, decrease in appetite, fatigue, concentrated urine, and light-headedness. High temperatures can cause dehydration much more quickly than a cooler day, and low humidity can dry you out faster as well.
If it seems like a chore to keep this whole hydration thing up, it’s really not too hard. A 32 oz. water bottle only needs to be filled up 4 times to meet the requirements for both men and women, and the benefits are well worth the refills.
“Proper hydration provides people with better-sustained energy throughout the day. It will provide better physical performance, decreased effort for physical work & improved concentration,” Rust said.
Add Some Flavor
Add fruits, veggies, and herbs to your water to spice it up a bit. Strawberry, lemon, and mint make a seriously refreshing combo to help beat the heat. How are you staying hydrated this summer?