Water is one of the most important nutrients for people and essential at every life stage. As we age, our mechanisms of water balance are disturbed, which increases our risk of dehydration. Right now, Gen Xers are at a particular risk of dehydration because natural changes in hormones are beginning to occur – specifically the antidiuretic hormone, which is responsible for triggering a thirst response.
Staying hydrated is important because the fluid helps regulate digestion, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients and body temperature. It also helps keep your brain, heart and muscles healthy.
When people become dehydrated, they may feel thirsty or tired, experience a headache or muscle cramps, or notice that their urine is dark yellow. These are all warning signs that it is time to reach for a tall glass of water.
Unless you are exerting yourself and require more water than usual, most moderately active, healthy adults should aim to drink “eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day.” It is important to make the distinction between water and fluid because all fluids count toward your daily total. Moreover, what you eat also accounts for a significant portion, approximately 20 percent, of your fluid intake.
Here are 10 tips to help Gen Xers (and everyone) stay hydrated all year-round:
- Drink before, during and after exercise
Even without heavy perspiration, you lose water while exercising, so it’s important to start hydrated and stay hydrated. Try to drink one glass of water shortly after waking up to rehydrate your system in preparation for your workout. Adding a squeeze of lemon tastes great and helps stimulate a bowel movement, which will help you feel more comfortable while exercising.
- Drink with – and between – each meal
Water and other fluids aid digestion. When you are hydrated, it is easier for your body to dissolve food and absorb its nutrients. Water is also important for preventing constipation as it keeps stools soft so they can move freely through the digestive tract.
- Drink room-temperature fluids
Cold fluids absorb more quickly into the body. In colder weather try drinking warm or room temperature beverages to regulate your internal temperature.
- Add a flavor-filled twist
Turn your cup of water into a spa-inspired treat for your taste buds. Try fresh fruit such as strawberries, kiwis or lemons,or aromatic herbs like basil, mint or lavender. You’ll find yourself reaching for more fluids throughout the day if you like what you’re drinking.
- Dilute juices
This not only dilutes the sugar concentration of many fruit juices, it also helps increase your fluid intake because you’re drinking something a bit more delicious than plain water.
- Eat plenty of water-rich fruits and vegetables
Water-rich foods are a one-two punch for dehydration. Not only do they provide the fluid your body needs, they also contain important mineral salts, natural sugars, amino acids and vitamins that are typically lost during exertion. According to a 2009 study, healthy hydrating foods such as watermelon and cucumber may hydrate your body twice as effectively as a glass of water.
- Set a hydration timer
Timing your water intake can be as easy as using an app or drawing a few lines on your water bottle. When you set mini-hydration goals throughout the day, you are more likely to drink more water. Draw a line at the ¼, ½ and ¾ mark on your bottle, and write down the time at which you want your water level to match the line. When you track your fluid intake, you are more likely to drink throughout the day.
- Keep a bottle of water close by at all times
Make it easy to sip water throughout the day by carrying a bottle with you wherever you go.
- Remember the one-to-one rule when drinking alcohol
For each glass of alcohol you drink, have a glass of water to stay hydrated. Alcohol is a diuretic because it inhibits the thirst response hormone (antidiuretic hormone) and causes increased urination, which can lead to dehydration.
- Monitor fluid loss
Check the color of your urine after voiding, it should be clear or pale yellow in color. If it is too dark, cloudy or smelly, it’s time to reach for a tall glass of water. You can typically rehydrate yourself within 45-minutes by ingesting 20 ounces of water; if you are planning on strenuous exercise or activity however, more water may be needed to completely rehydrate.
- Wear layers in cold weather
When you allow sweat to remain on the skin, your brain sends a signal to your heart that it needs to work harder to maintain good blood circulation and body temperature. Wearing polypropylene, Thinsulate or wool layers help wick moisture away from the body.
We hope these tips help you to stay hydrated throughout the day.