Are you getting enough water?
How do you even know if you’re getting enough??
It’s a tricky question with A LOT of (mis)information out there.
8 glasses a day, right? That’s the answer?
What if I’m sweating a lot? What if I don’t feel thirsty?
Don’t coffee and tea hydrate me? I definitely get water from the food that I eat! That counts, right?
Now I’m worried that I drink too much water because I read about over-hydration!
Let’s clear some of this up.
check out my video to learn:
- Why staying properly hydrated is super duper important for your health
- Why most people are chronically dehydrated and how to shift your hormonal messaging to increase thirst
- How much water to drink for your body size and activity level
- What is all this business about over hydration and should I be worried?
You’ll be amazed at what a little water can do!
Full Video Transcript
Hi there, Dr. Liz Carter here and today I wanted to talk about something that’s super vital to your health, water. Most people walk around chronically dehydrated and I wanted to address what we can do about that so you feel better. Today, I’m a little behind on my own water intake so I’m going to pour myself a glass here and drink a little bit as we go along to make sure that I stay hydrated. Okay, great.
I just wanted to give you a little bit of background on water and why it’s so important for us. 70% of our body is actually made up of fluid weight, which is mainly water. That is a ton of weight. When we’re newborns or infants, we’re about 90% water and then as we get older and maybe over 60 or into 75 years old, we end up being about 60% water. Most human adults are about 70% water.
Let’s put that in some real terms. If we look at a 150 pound person, that means 105 pounds of their weight is fluid, which is massive, right? I think we all kind of think of maybe the skeletal system, and the muscles, and the organs, being the majority of the weight in our body, but truthfully, it’s fluid and the basis of that fluid in the body is water.
We have several different types of fluid. I think the most common one that we think of is blood, of course, but really that’s the smallest percentage, that’s only about 5% of our fluid weight in our body. The rest is made up of extracellular fluid, which is at about 15%, and then intracellular fluid, which is about 50%.
That extracellular fluid is super, super important. It’s essentially the communication’s matrix between your cells and your circulatory system and your nervous system. Everything that you need transported in and out of the cells goes through that extracellular matrix. And then of course, the intracellular cells, they’re blown up in their fluid volume is mainly water, which is super important, we need proper hydration in all of our cells for them to be able to function well.
That’s the lovely overview of water in your body and then I wanted to talk a little bit about how we get water into the body and maybe what we’re missing nowadays and why we’re a little bit dehydrated or mostly chronically dehydrated. A lot of it has to do with our dietary choices and of course, water.
But let’s focus on diet for right now. A lot of foods that we eat, do contain water, most of them have a small percentage or a large of percentage of water. I’ll see this down for a second here. If we look at fresh fruits and vegetables, like this lovely onion here or pear, these guys are about 80% water, so that’s a lot. You can get a lot of fluid volume from eating fresh fruits and vegetables, which is fantastic.
But, we all don’t eat quite as much of that, myself included sometimes, as we might need. If we have things in our diet like crackers or chips, things that are purposely dehydrated and are tasty because of it, these are really only about three to 7% water. If we’re looking at grains that are cooked like pasta or cereal, well, pasta ends up being about 60% water when it’s cooked. Grains like cereal, is really only about 12% water.
You can see that a lot of choices that we make with these prepackaged and pre-made foods are kind of robbing us of this water content that we would usually get from fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, even meat is about 70% water and fish is about 80%, it’s a little higher because they live in water. Really looking at our diet choices can be helpful in understanding why we might be missing out on hydration.
The other part is that we don’t often drink enough water. We get distracted, we don’t think about it. We don’t carry a water bottle with us. It can really add up over the day. I had a professor, my urology professor in medical school actually, would talk about if you are not peeing every hour, you are dehydrated.
I know that that sounds like a lot and probably kind of inconvenient to run to the bathroom but it’s true. That’s really a healthy level of hydration and you would want to see things mostly be clear, rather than that concentrated yellow color that we often see when we are dehydrated and then the body starts conserving water and holding it in because we’re not taking enough in ourselves.
Another reason why we are chronically dehydrated is really our environmental exposures nowadays, with the chemicals, either from our house or our clothing. Smells are a big one, like fabric softener or laundry detergent, Glade PlugIns, that type of thing in the house. All of that has to be detoxified in our body when it comes in.
In addition to all of the metabolic processes that are happening all the time in your body, that also have to be detoxified and we really need a lot of water to make that happen. The cells have to be properly hydrated, without water enzymatic reactions that actually work on this detoxification and processing slow down. And then, our kidneys also can only filter so much and let go of so much water if we’re not taking enough water in. That can be an issue too, that way.
Ideally, the amount of waste we’re exposed to or that we’re producing, is filtered out and none of it builds up in the system, but if we’re chronically dehydrated, we end up building up this waste in the system over time, which really leads to a lot of uncomfortable symptoms. Things like chronic fatigue, our adrenals can be affected. Just feeling overly tired and lethargic all the time. Many of those things can be fixed just by drinking more water.
Another third point I wanted to focus on for lack of water, especially in the fall and winter, kind of where we are now, is forced air heating especially. Any type of forced air is going to be a little bit more depleted in moisture than it usually is, but especially if we’re around indoor heating a lot, we’re getting a lot of really dry air that’s going to not hydrate us as much as that fresh outdoor air. That can actually take a toll, a lot of moisture will evaporate out of our lungs and off our skin and further dehydrate us.
Okay. Now moving on to the fun part, what can we do about it? How can we get more water in? Well the simple idea is to drink more of course, but that can be tough. It takes a lot of thought to get that going. Maybe we need to have a goal as to how much we should drink per day so we can reach that, so we can reach toward that and figure out, just how much do I need to put into my body to make this work?
A great rule to go by is taking your body weight, dividing it in half and that’s the number of ounces you should get at a minimum per day. This is often, for most people, it’s more than that eight glasses a day, kind of maxim, which ends up being 64 ounces. If we take our 150 pound person we were talking about before and we divide that in half, that’s 75 ounces a day at a minimum.
That’s already over that 64 ounces per day. If you’re over about 120 or 130 pounds, that 64 ounces a day really isn’t enough for you. Of course, this varies greatly based on your diet and exercise levels. If you are someone who eats more fruits and vegetables, you might need less water per day. But if you are someone who eats a little bit more dehydrating food, you will need more water.
Sometimes that thirst mechanism that tells you, you need to drink, shuts down after a while. If you are dehydrated, your body gets really efficient. It realizes that most of its water is coming from food rather than you drinking water so it will start to confuse hunger and thirst signals a little bit, it’ll wrap the two together.
So, when you start drinking more water, often times your hunger will go down, which is fabulous, right? Good weight loss type right there for you, drink more water. And then, naturally your body will realize it’s getting water from this pure source and then it will tell you, you’re thirsty over time.
Another way is to minimize that coffee and tea that we bring in, those can be very dehydrating. They are diuretic fluids so what that means is, that they will force more fluid out of the system than they bring in. It really is advisable to do as much pure water as you can. You can certainly make it fun, add some lemon, add some lime. I know people who add berries or mint, anything to make it palatable for you, that’s really delicious.
I think as well, exercise is a really big thing to look at for water intake. Anytime you’re exercising and sweating a lot or using a sauna, you want to add about 16 ounces for every half hour or hour that you’re sweating heavily, depending on how heavily you’re sweating. And then, if it’s kind of a lighter workout with minimal sweating, you probably want to go for about eight ounces, every half hour or hour added on to your total for the day.
That’s mainly what I wanted to talk about here. I did want to address one more issue we’ve been hearing about a lot lately which is this overhydration component. I think a lot of people get really worried about, oh my gosh, am I going to drink too much water? Is this too much for me? And then they don’t drink enough.
Overhydration is usually really only a problem in athletes and especially, distance runners. What happens with that is you have somebody who is over hydrating, maybe getting water at every aid station, trying to stay pre-hydrated before they actually get dehydrated, which is a fabulous way to go.
But, what happens is, a lot of times, they’re not actually taking in the amount of minerals that they need. Water and minerals have a really important balance in the body. If you don’t have enough minerals, you end up diluting the cellular fluid too much and then your body can’t actually, the cells can’t process the right signals. They can’t tell your muscles to work, they can’t tell your heart, sometimes even your circulatory system, to pump correctly.
Often times, overhydration scares that you see are people that have been sweating a lot, losing minerals and hydrating without repleting minerals. That can be easily remedied by making sure you have a lot of electrolytes on hand or getting in a lot of minerals. My favorite way to do that, I’ll put this down here. I’ll show you, is a sole (pronounced sol-aye) jar. I’ll bring it right up here.
It’s really pretty, big chunks of Himalayan salt here. And all you do is you fill it up with water and here’s your little spoon that you use, and you take a couple of spoonfuls of this a day, not straight, please don’t do that. Salt brines, it’d be really gross. But I would put it in a water glass, this size would be just fine.
Sometimes, that’s a little salty for people and then I also will put it in a water bottle this size or so. This is my water bottle for the day, it’s about 27 ounces and I try to do about three of them. So for the sole jar, I will put one, maybe two scoops in each different water bottle. I’m sorry, so two scoops a day, not two scoops in each water bottle. And that’s usually a nice kind of palatable amount of minerals for me to get per day.
Great, yeah, so that wraps it up. I hope that clarifies a few of your questions on water and gave you some really good information and hopefully you’re not scared to drink water at this point. It’s really, really crucial for our health and just increasing water to that minimum amount of half your body weight per day can make you feel so much better.
I really hope you get a chance to try it out. Feel free to shoot me an email or write on my Facebook wall about your experiences and how you liked the video and how it goes trying out getting more water. But in the meantime, yeah, I really hope you enjoy and thanks so much for watching.