It’s high season for hydration! At this time of year it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your fluid intake. Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight, and every system in your body depends on it: Water flushes toxins from vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for healthy ear, nose and throat tissues.
Your body needs plenty of fluids for optimal performance. Even at early stages, dehydration can cause fatigue, loss of energy and brain fog:
1% dehydration – You begin to feel thirsty.
2% dehydration – Creeping anxiety, with reduced appetite and capacity for work.
4% dehydration – Feelings of nausea, dizziness, emotional instability, fatigue.
6% dehydration – Loss of coordination and coherence of speech.
10% dehydration – Your body loses its ability to regulate its core temperature, and cells begin to die.
Bet you didn’t know how just a tiny deficiency of water throws your body’s healthy systems out of whack!
How much fluid do we really need? Most health experts agree that the “8x8 Rule” (eight 8-ounce glasses daily) is a good recommendation. The Mayo Clinic puts it another way: If you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate.
The general consensus is that water is the best choice for effective hydration. Your body’s cells cry out for water! It’s clean, cheap and readily available … but there is an important caveat. Avoid drinking tap water, which contains chlorine as well as hundreds of harmful contaminants.
Chlorinated water does destroy some bad bugs that can cause disease … along with the “friendly” gut bacteria necessary for your good health. That’s why the water you drink should be purified by means of a good filtration system.
But some people just like plain water. For them, drinking it is a chore rather than a pleasure. Others enjoy it well enough, but just want a more flavorful option now and then, without having to worry about the unhealthful effects of sugary sodas or the suspect ingredients in diet soft drinks.
If jazzing up your water will encourage you to drink more of it … by all means, have at it! Here are some cool summer options for liquid refreshment – and they’re good for your health as well as your waistline:
- The simple addition of ice and a lemon slice can bring a touch of elegance to a glass of water. Plus, the lemon is a digestive aid with a mini-boost of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Flavored waters are sold in stores, or you can easily make your own. If you are buying them, be careful … some contain artificial sweeteners. You can create your own flavored waters at home by adding a few pieces of fruit to a pitcher of ice water. Lemon, lime, watermelon, raspberry, strawberry, kiwi – your seasonal favorites! Allow the pitcher to sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the fruit flavors mix in.
- Jeltzer: Add a splash of unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice (my favorites are cranberry and pomegranate) to seltzer water over ice.
- Iced tea, the old standby: Boost the health properties of this traditional summertime beverage by trying iced green tea – or, if you prefer a caffeine-free beverage, rooibos (also known as African bush tea or red tea). Raise the “wow” factor of these teas with some intriguing flavor infusions such as jasmine or mint.
- Stevia – If you absolutely must sweeten your beverage, this plant extract has been used as a sweetener by native people in South America for hundreds of years and is being researched for its possible health benefits including lowering blood pressure and regulating glucose levels. Stevia is sweeter than sugar, so use just a pinch.
Do you like your water “fancied up”? Let us know your favorites!