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Health Matters: The importance of staying hydrated

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water” ~ Loren Eiseley

Did you realize that every cell, tissue and organ in our body needs water to work properly? We need water to carry nutrients to our cells, maintain optimal body temperature, lubricate our joints, flush bacteria from our bladder, and prevent constipation. We lose water each time we go to the bathroom, sweat and even breathe!

It’s important to stay properly hydrated. Thirst isn’t the best indicator that you need to drink, in fact, if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

Symptoms of dehydration include muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness, loss of coordination and inability to pay attention.

Some people are at a higher risk of dehydration including those with medical conditions (e.g. kidney stones and bladder infections), those who are sick and are vomiting or have diarrhea, and those who exercise in the heat or high humidity for too long.

Older adults are also at high risk because their brains may be unable to sense dehydration. One way to monitor hydration levels is to pay attention to the color of your urine. Optimally you want urine to be pale like lemonade, not dark like apple juice (which means you need to drink more) or clear like water (which means you need to drink less).

If staying hydrated is difficult for you, try these tips:

  1. Keep a bottle of water in several locations where you are more likely to notice it and are reminded to drink. Suggestions include on the kitchen table or counter, on the coffee or end table, your nightstand, by the bathroom sink, etc.
  2. When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger (true hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water).
  3. Try keeping a log sheet or download an app to tally how much water you drink in a day.
  4. Drink water on a schedule. For example, drink a glass of water when you wake up, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner and a couple of hours before you go to bed. Or try drinking a small glass at the start of every hour.
  5. Add natural flavour to your water by steeping fresh fruit or vegetables (e.g. strawberries, raspberries, lemon, cucumber, ginger) or herbs (e.g. basil, lavender, turmeric).

Water is life! Our bodies need water more than they need food, sleep or exercise so make drinking water a regular part of your daily routine.