What is Hydration and Why is It Important?

One of the easiest things that you can do to improve your overall health is to simply drink water to keep your body hydrated. 

The human body needs water to survive. Plain and simple, every single organ and cell that makes up your body needs a certain amount of water in order to function at its very best. In fact, up to 60% of your body is made up of water. It is used as the base building material in cells and performs a number of other benefits within your body.

So, what exactly is hydration, and why is it so important?

What is Hydration?

Have you ever felt so incredibly thirsty that when you finally drank some water, it was essentially the best thing you've ever had to drink in your life, and you just couldn't get enough of it? Well, this feeling is likely due to you being dehydrated, which means that your body is in a state of not having enough water for it to function properly. 

Some common signs of dehydration include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Confusion
  • Rapid pulse
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

One way to get your body water back into its normal levels is through fluid replacement, i.e. drinking water to replace the water you lose every day. Hydration is defined as the "process of causing something to absorb water." This "something" in the case of hydrating the human body primarily refers to the cells in your body, your blood, and the spaces in between the cells. 

The importance of hydration is not only essential for physical health, but for mental health as well. There is a long and extensive list of advantages to monitoring and maintaining your water intake and hydration status, but some of the top benefits include:

Improved Mental Performance

Did you know that your brain depends on proper hydration in order to function optimally? Brain cells require a specific electrolyte/water balance in order to function, and when overall fluid loss in your body is too great, that balance can be compromised. In fact, studies show that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 1-2% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function.

Improved Physical Performance

If you don't drink fluids enough to keep yourself properly hydrated, your physical performance can suffer. This is particularly important during strenuous physical activity, which is why sports drinks have grown increasingly popular over the last decade (although plain water is generally preferable due to the high amounts of added sugar found in most sports drinks). Dehydration starts to have a noticeable effect when you lose as little as 2% of your body's water content. This can lead to dry mouth, altered body temperature control, increased fatigue, and reduced motivation. It can also make exercise feel like much more of a challenge, both physically and mentally. The good news is that optimal hydration and just drinking plenty of water to help with fluid replacement can help prevent this from happening, and it may even reduce the oxidative stress that is associated with high-intensity exercise. A good way to make sure that your body stays hydrated is by incorporating a great supplement like Adapted Nutrition's Hi-Lyte Salt Capsules that delivers rapid rehydration immediately to help you to recover fast and kick muscle cramps to the curb!

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Your heart works very hard. It is continuously pumping roughly 7500 liters of blood per day. By keeping your body well-hydrated, you are helping your heart to do its job properly. A heart that is hydrated can pump blood much more efficiently, which then supports the muscles in your body to work even better. If fluid needs aren't met, heart rate can increase since the heart has to work harder to distribute blood throughout the body.

Improved Temperature Regulation

Proper hydration allows your body to do its job effectively. One of those jobs is keeping the body at a stable temperature. Sweat helps to keep you cool, but if you don't have enough fluid in your body, your temperature can quickly rise, which can be extremely dangerous. Make sure to drink large amounts of water when you're in a hot environment that may cause you to sweat more than usual.

Increased Energy Levels

Believe it or not, dehydration is a major cause of daytime fatigue. Keeping yourself hydrated will ensure your bodily functions are well supported and running efficiently. When you are dehydrated, your body functions tend to slow down and can use up all of your extra energy resources. This can leave you feeling pretty tired and sluggish.

Improved Digestion

Dehydration can cause digestive issues like chronic constipation because when you're dehydrated, your stools become harder and much more difficult to pass. Your digestive tract needs enough fluid in order to function properly and move waste out from your body.

Reduced Hunger

When your stomach senses that it's full, it sends signals to your brain to tell it to stop eating. Drinking water during your meal can help to fill up space in your stomach, leading to a feeling of fullness and reducing hunger pangs.

How Much Water Should You Drink a Day?

The answer to this question depends on many different variables like your gender, age, height, weight, and activity levels. However, according to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups of fluids per day for men and about 12.5 cups of fluids per day for women.

Here are some tips to help with drinking water regularly in order to stay hydrated:

Drink a glass of h2O first thing in the AM.

When you first roll out of bed, it is a good idea to drink water prior to your morning cup of joe to help rehydrate your body after 6-8 hours of rest without taking in any fluids.

Carry a water bottle with you.

You are much more likely to drink water if it is with or near you.

Take water breaks.

If you are a natural busy bee, chances are you struggle with finding time to drink water. Try setting a few alarms on your smartphone to remind yourself to take sips of water between tasks throughout the day. You don't have to go chugging 8-ounce glasses of water whenever you hear the alarm, but even taking the time to sip can help develop better water drinking habits.

Eat your water. 

Keeping your body hydrated isn't all about beverages! In fact, did you know that some fruits and veggies contain up to 98% water? Reach for healthy foods like spinach, watermelon, and cucumbers to "eat" your water instead.

Sip before you snack.

Got a case of the late-night munchies? Before you raid the pantry, try taking a few sips of water instead. Sometimes, your body puts out thirst signals that you may accidentally interpret as hunger signals.

Consider hydrating supplements.

Great supplements like Adapted Nutrition's Hi-Lyte Concentrate are ideal for rehydration. Designed by nature to be potent, fast-acting, and completely absorbed by the body, it's no wonder why athletes turn to Adapted Nutrition for all of their hydrating needs.

A Final Word

Drinking enough water to stay hydrated every day is important for many reasons. It helps to regulate body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, delivers nutrients to cells, prevents infections, and keeps organs functioning properly, just to name a few. With that in mind, it goes without saying that hydration is of the utmost importance! To help your body feel its best, be sure to keep yourself adequately hydrated every day!

Sources

  1. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6282244/#:~:text=Studies%20have%20reported%20dehydration%20by,temperature%20among%20children%20%5B12%5D.
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/