One of the most common questions is, “How much water should I drink each day?”
The answer on how to stay hydrated with water is typically drinking between 25 percent and 50 percent of your body weight in ounces of water daily. So if you weigh 160 pounds, you typically want to try to get between 40 to 80 ounces of water a day.
Water is vital for your health and for hydration, and there are many reasons you should drink enough water. But that question – how much water should I be drinking a day — isn’t necessarily the best question because it’s not just about how much water you get … it’s about hydration.
Effects of dehydration
If you are dehydrated, some of the biggest side effects can be headaches, lack of energy, weight gain, lack of cleansing and detoxification, a weakened immune response, catching colds and flus easily, and feeling lethargic or even experiencing brain fog. That’s why it’s so vital to know how to stay properly hydrated.
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 one to two percent of body water – can impair cognitive performance. This is in contrast to the previously held belief that someone needed to have a two percent or greater body water deficit to see cognitive effects.
This further proves how vital proper hydration is, and if you’re wondering how to stay hydrated, here are four key ways:
4 ways to make sure you stay hydrated
- Drink enough water
While water isn’t the only factor when it comes to staying hydrated, it does start with water. Your number one goal should be to start drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water a day.
This isn’t about strictly how much water you to take in, either. It’s as much about how much fluid leaves your body too.
In fact, according to extensive research, “under normal circumstances of diet, exercise and climate the minimal urine output for healthy subjects is about 500 ml/day.” This is to help detoxify the body and even naturally prevent kidney stones – and also to maintain proper maintenance of the digestive system. The study recommends men drink around 3,000 milliliters of water a day and 2,200 for women – though this varies according to body weight.
If you weigh around 160 pounds, carry around a 20-ounce container of water and drink four of those a day to increase that water consumption.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
Step two is getting more fruits and vegetables in your diet because they have positive impacts on hydration status.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the contribution fruits and vegetables have on hydration in children. Researchers studied the dietary records and urine samples of 442 schoolchildren and find that regular intake of fruits and vegetables relatively improve the hydration status.
Some of the most hydrating foods include:
- Bell peppers
- Citrus fruit
- Iceberg lettuce
On top of that, you know fruits and vegetables are packed with electrolytes such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium. You need to get those good quality electrolytes in your system because they are key components on how to stay hydrated. Indeed, fruits and vegetables help combat electrolyte imbalance, which in turn aids hydration.
The University of Montana compared the effects of a plain water solution versus 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 and electrolyte additive mixture. The data shows that adding electrolytes to plain water decreases overall fluid consumption, leading researchers to conclude 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.”
- Consume sea salt
The third 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. 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.
The fourth thing you need to do to stay hydrated is exercise. If you want to stay properly hydrated, you want to increase circulation throughout your body. Any form of exercise can support this, whether it’s cardiovascular training, burst training, weight training or simply going out and walking.
Movement increases circulation and can improve your overall electrolyte levels and get more nutrients into your cells.
Remember these four steps on how to stay hydrated, and how much water you should drink. If you do those four things, you’re going to be well-hydrated and that water you consume is also going to be properly balanced with electrolytes.
This article originally appeared on DrAxe.com and is republished here with permission.