The Importance of Staying Hydrated
Everyone understands that one of the keys to a healthy lifestyle is drinking plenty of water. Parents recognize that if kids are going to be outside and active, especially in the heat of the summer – they better bring along some water bottles. Staying hydrated is important. You know that. But why?
What does it mean for adults to drink “plenty of” water? Is that different for kids?
And do other liquids count? There’s water in iced tea, lemonade and even soda. Or does it just have to be plain water?
Let’s sort through the facts, one at a time.
How does staying properly hydrated help you and your kids?
Moving waste along, allowing toxins to leave the body
Without water, humans wouldn’t be able to sweat. Perspiring helps keep bodies cool by regulating temperature. Especially in the summer, kids would overheat and lose consciousness if they didn’t sweat out the toxins collected during normal living. Hydration also helps replace the liquids they’re losing, which is why frequent water breaks are important.
Liquids also allow your body to urinate and make healthy bowel movements. Without this necessary function, no one would be able to dispose of the waste collected in the body. Kidneys can’t do it alone!
Powering your brain
It’s true. Water improves thinking, reasoning and calculating. Cognitive functions are more accurate with proper hydration.
If you don’t get enough water, you will start forgetting things you know. Dehydrated kids feel sluggish and lose focus easily. They also are far more tired and worried than normal.
When you put food into your mouth, it can only begin to break down with the help of saliva. And only hydrated people have saliva. So a dry mouth is a clue to get a glass of water.
Gastrointestinal diseases, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, are sometimes preventable. One of the first things a GI doctor will suggest, along with encouraging smaller and more frequent meals, is to drink more water.
Regularly consuming liquids, including at mealtime, helps distribute food to where it’ll help the body most. For example, nutrient absorption can’t happen without hydrated joints, cells and organs. That’s how vitamins and minerals dissolve and aid your machinery.
Water improves athletic performance
Drinking liquids activates metabolism and keeps kids feeling energized for longer periods of time. Hydrated athletes don’t feel muscle fatigue as quickly as those who consume sugar-filled sports drinks. The same also goes for those not drinking enough water in general.
Endurance is important on a basketball court or soccer field, among other sports. Especially in the summertime when your kids are all sweating a lot more than usual. Dehydration can be dangerous so always make sure to encourage breaks and cool down periods. Kids should drink water whenever they’re thirsty.
If you want to stay trim while exercising and eating right, make sure to drink water throughout the day. Even when you’re on a rest day. Drinking water with meals makes people feel fuller longer. So they overeat less.
Remember, it takes several minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you’re full. Liquids help slow you down so your brain receives the message sooner.
It doesn’t hurt to choose food options with high water content. Meals with fibrous fruits, crunchy vegetables and lean meats cooked with water-soluble marinades add to a healthy diet.
Water also helps your skin stay shiny and cleans out pores, leading to fewer acne outbreaks. Studies also show that adequate hydration, along with avoiding direct sunlight, can reverse the effects of aging. According to leading dermatologists, people who drink adequate amounts of water have fewer wrinkles.
No matter our goals, water is part of healthy living and shows on our face.
Keeps you healthy
Water improves circulation, helps your breath stay fresh and delivers important nutrients where they’re needed most. It does the same with oxygen.
According to studies, drinking water also helps prevent or lessen the effects of many medical conditions such as kidney stones, colitis, UTIs, hiatal hernias and hypertension. The vitamins and minerals it helps the body absorb also work hard to keep you healthy.
What happens if you don’t get proper hydration?
Keep track of how much water you’re drinking every day. You will become dehydrated without enough water and any number of health issues could result. The same goes for your kids. A child’s brain could swell, and kidneys could fail, without enough hydration.
How much should you drink?
A good rule of thumb is to drink when you’re thirsty.
In other words, listen to your body. Pay attention to signals such as a dry mouth or trouble swallowing food. A dehydrated person will notice their urine has a strong smell and is darker than normal. These are all signs you need to be drinking more often.
Most experts recommend eight glasses of water each day for adults. Water is recommended rather than drinks with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Added ingredients and colors tend to negate the positive effects of staying hydrated so choose plain water when you can.
In addition to monitoring your thirst levels, be aware that drinking beverages with caffeine or alcohol will increase your need for water. Some people living with chronic medical conditions typically consume more water according to their physician’s advice.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reports that total water intake, which includes beverages other than water and the food we eat, should be around:
- 15.5 cups of water every day for men.
- 11.5 cups every day for women.
- 8 ounce cups of water equal to their age for children.
Don’t overdo it. Excessive hydration can be just as dangerous as drinking too little.
Remember, everyone is different.
If you or your kids exercise regularly, participate in endurance sports, and work/play a lot outdoors – you all can and should drink more.
Staying hydrated helps everyone stay safe, healthy and active – all year long.