Why is Hydration So Important?
Water is an often over-looked nutrient. When we consider that water is utilized in 98% of all processes that occur within the body, we realize that depriving the body of this essential and major constituent of life can have grave consequences. Water is imperative to the production of energy, the regulation of body temperature, and to the ridding the body of waste.
Signs of Dehydration
So, how can we tell if we’re adequately hydrated? Let’s consider the signs of dehydration. You could be moderately dehydrated if you have a dry, sticky mouth, are fatigued, are thirsty (no brainer), have dry skin, headaches, constipation, body aches or experience lightheadedness. You could be extremely dehydrated if you are irritable, confused, don’t sweat, have little to no urination, if you have low blood pressure, a rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing or no tears.
Unfortunately, thirst isn’t always a reliable gauge of the body’s need for water, especially in children and older adults, so one of the better indicators of hydration is the color of your urine; clear or light-colored urine means you’re well hydrated. Unless attributed to certain supplements you are taking, strong smelling, dark yellow or amber colored urine is almost always a telltale sign of dehydration.
Favorite Hydration Tips
Proper hydration requires a little discipline and personally, discipline is something I don’t have a lot of, LOL. Here are tips that have helped me:
- Estimate Your Daily Requirement. Calculate the ounces of water you should drink in a day with this simple equation: Divide your body weight by 2. The resulting number represents the number of ounces of water you should aim to drink in a day. So, if you weigh 160 pounds, your goal is 80 ounces of water per day. That said, hydration is a balance. Body weight, activity level, age, health and other factors influence the quantity of water the body requires. Find what works for you—that which maintains body and fluid balance. It’s important to note that there is such a thing as drinking too much water? You can read about that here.
- Use a Dedicated Water Bottle. Pick up an attractive water bottle, note the ounces it holds and calculate how many of those bottles you need to drink in a day (see tip above). This is my favorite water bottle. The ounces are marked on the side, and it is glass—versus plastic or stainless—with a protective silicon sleeve. I take it with me wherever I go.
- Schedule Water Breaks. Aim to consume half of your daily requirement of water in the morning (some right after you awake) and half in the afternoon. Make up a schedule that works for you.
- Water Before Coffee. Drink a glass of water before enjoying your morning cup of coffee. For every cup of coffee you drink, drink an additional glass of water.
- Jazz It Up. Your best bet is to stick with pure water. However if that gets boring, infuse water with fruit (lemons, limes, cucumbers, berries), spike it with a little of your favorite juice, or try one of the beverage recipes at the end of this post. Just don’t sweeten with artificial sweeteners, please! Stevia is a much healthier, natural, zero-calorie alternative.
Recently I have been adding an extra boost to my beverages in the form of chia seeds. For more about chia, read this post. Down Mexico way, chia fresca is a pretty common beverage—a spoonful of chia seeds stirred into a mixture of water, lime juice, and sweetener. When chia seeds come into contact with liquid, they soak up 10-12 times their own weight in water! So you always want to consume them with plenty of liquid. When soaked, they become gelatinous and promote hydration and endurance. My husband got me hooked on chia after reading Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. In his book, McDougall tells of a tribe of endurance runners—the Tarahumara of Northern Mexico—sustaining themselves with chia while running 100-mile ultra marathons.
With hydration and endurance in mind, today I have a spin-off of chia fresca to share with you. When you were a kid, did you ever sneak off to the fridge to slurp down a half-set bowlful of cherry Jell-O. I did and that’s what came to mind the first time I drank a bottle of Cherry Lime Mamma Chia. My sister introduced me to Mamma Chia, and Mamma Mia, Mamma Chia is good—strange good! And much like me, my sister felt compelled to make her own Mamma Chia at home. This recipe is hers. My son calls it booger juice. I call it bug juice. Whatever you want to call it, it’s oddly addicting. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Cherry Limeade Chia Fresca
Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Easily Vegan
1/2 cup no sugar added tart CHERRY JUICE (like R.W. Knudsen)
1 cup WATER
3 tablespoons white CHIA SEED
2 tablespoon liquefied HONEY
2 tablespoons fresh LIME JUICE
Mix all ingredients in a Mason jar and refrigerate overnight.
- Honey may be substituted with your sweetener of choice. I use a bit of honey and a bit of zero-calorie liquid stevia concentrate. Sometimes I just use stevia.
- Though R.W. Knudsen Just Tart Cherry has no added sugar, it still packs 24g of sugar per 8 fluid ounces. Feel free to experiment with watering this recipe down. For each additional 1/2 cup of water, I’ve been adding an additional tablespoon of chia seed and a couple more drops of liquid stevia.
- This beverage is not intended to be a sole source of hydration. Look at it as a fun drink to add to your day. 2-3 tablespoons of chia a day make a nutritious addition to most diets. More than that probably wouldn’t hurt you. But as with any food, practice moderation. And, chia has that lovely ability of keeping you “regular” … too much and well, we won’t go there. 🙂