How to Hack your Hydration
“You should drink more water.” You have probably heard it many times. It might seem like a common recommendation, but many people struggle to meet their daily water needs. And this seemingly simple practice can have far reaching effects. Water is important for regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients, smoothly working joints and organs, giving structure to cells and tissues, helping heart health and blood flow, memory and cognitive function, and so many others . So, have you had enough water today? Let’s find out.
How much water do you need?
Water makes up between 55% of body weight in elderly adults and 75% of body weight in infants . Water levels in the body are tightly regulated, though water gets lost through the skin, kidneys, lungs, digestive tract, and in increased amounts with exercise . The estimated normal amount of water lost in an average adult can be anywhere from 1.5 to 3 litres per day! 
Understandably, this water needs to be replaced. Liquid intake will generally represent 70-80% of total water consumption, while 20-30% will come from solid foods.  The volume of fluids needed will depend on your size and physical activity, which can make it difficult to provide clear daily recommended intakes for the general population. A general rule to follow is to drink 1/2 to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 140 lbs, that would be 70-140 ounces (or 2-4 litres) of water per day. Stay on the lower end for a day without physical activity, and aim higher when sweating. It’s good to stay within this range, because you can have too much of a good thing. Hyperhydration, or “water intoxication” is a rare event, but is possible . Your body can generally regulate excess fluid levels with urination, although periods of prolonged sweating with over-hydration can cause an electrolyte imbalance called hyponatremia.  In this case, the sodium in the blood is too diluted, and the kidneys can’t expel the water fast enough.  This is why electrolyte drinks are so often promoted as sports drinks. And although it is uncommon, the symptoms can mimic those of dehydration and can be fatal if not treated properly. 
Hydrated or dehydrated?
True dehydration occurs when more fluid is lost than is consumed . The risk of dehydration can be increased by symptoms and illnesses such as diarrhea, sweating, vomiting, kidney disease, diabetes, and other endocrine disorders . It is relatively uncommon for adults with access to clean drinking water to become dehydrated, though a lack of fluid intake can cause suboptimal hydration, which may cause milder symptoms.
Here are some things to look out for [1-3]:
-Feeling thirsty -Dry skin and lips -Dark urine -Headaches -Muscle cramps -Lightheadedness -Dizziness -Decreased skin elasticity -Constipation -Fatigue, low energy, or lethargy -Memory decline
Take note of these symptoms in your day to day, and reflect back on your water intake. Perhaps they can be prevented with a little help from hydration.
Ten ways to get more water:
1. Make it a morning ritual. Begin your day with a glass of water, or for an added bonus, have a warm lemon water first thing.
2. Have a pitcher to yourself. Keep a pitcher next to your work station and make your way through it over the workday.
3. Own more than 1 water bottle. Have one for your backpack/fitness bag, your car, your office, your bedside table… Reusable bottles are best to minimize your plastic intake.
4. Keep count. Measure your intake by counting your pitchers, bottles, or glasses. Using the same size vessel can make it easier to know how much you’ve consumed.
5. Drink herbal tea. Make a pot after dinner, pour yourself a cup, and drink the rest chilled or room temperature the next day.
6. Add flavour. Not into the taste of water? Add lemon, orange, lime, cucumber, mint, ginger, vitamin packet, or any other flavour you like.
7. Get it through food. Enjoy broths, soups, and vegetables high in water like leafy greens and crunchy fruits and vegetables.
8. Choose water first. Replace sugary beverages or that extra coffee with a glass of water. Before having an alcoholic beverage, drain a glass of water first.
9. Set an alert. Have a recurring reminder to drink water on your phone, or use an app!
10. After-dinner dose. This is a good time to hydrate your body for the night, but not so close to bedtime that you’ll need to wake up to use the bathroom.
It might seem simple, but water is undoubtedly essential. We need it to survive and thrive, and we are fortunate to have access to such a precious resource. Pour yourself a glass of water, and talk to your doctor, or naturopathic doctor, if you need help with your hydration.
- Riebl, S. K., & Davy, B. M. (2013). The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance. ACSM's health & fitness journal, 17(6), 21–28. https://doi.org/10.1249/FIT.0b013e3182a9570f
- Popkin, B. M., D'Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition reviews, 68(8), 439–458. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
- Taylor K, Jones EB. Adult Dehydration. [Updated 2020 Apr 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555956/