Chug-a-lug! Why Hydration is More Important than Simply Quenching our Thirst
We all know that we’re “supposed to” drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated, but few of us actually do it. The reason so many do not follow up on this common knowledge is likely an underestimation of the scope of its impact.
If your brain’s thirsty, you won’t be able to think as clearly.
The brain has especially high water requirements, weighing in at 85% water. This means that dehydration affects brain function especially quickly. A drop in fluid levels as low as 2% can cause fuzzy thinking and impair short-term memory (2).
Being dehydrated affects your mood.
Sufficient water is required to both deliver nutrients and hormones to where they need to go in your system, and to also transport wastes out of the body. If there’s not enough water available escort out the wastes, the job falls to a couple of amino acids: tryptophan and tyrosine. The problem is that these amino acids act as neurotransmitters in the brain, where they work to keep our mood up. When they abandon their posts to pick up where the water left off, the result can be depression (3).
Asthma and allergies are linked to dehydration.
Histamine has a huge role in water regulation, and when dehydrated, the body produces extra histamine to help seek out water in the body. Histamine also regulates bronchial muscle contraction, and more histamine can lead to constricted bronchioles (4).
More broadly speaking, studies have shown a direct correlation between increased water intake and a greater resilience against disease (5). The more dehydrated a person is, the greater the risk for dysfunction and illness.
Okay, now that we’re all eager to wet our whistles, let’s talk about what to drink, and what not to drink for hydration.
The average person needs to drink about 8 glasses of liquids a day (about 2 litres). Note that if you’re particularly active and/or sweat a lot, you will need more than this.
Coffee (and other caffeinated beverages) and alcohol do not count, because these substances are diuretics, which cause us to excrete more water than these drinks themselves contain. The end result is that we’re more dehydrated than before we started (6). The high sugar content of pop keeps it from being hydrating as well, and so it doesn’t count either.
So other than water, what does count?
- Herbal teas
- High quality, pure vegetable and fruit juices (with no extra sugar added!)
- Coconut water (this is high in electrolytes, which are especially important for hydration after water loss through sweat, diarrhea, or vomiting)
Other good sources of electrolytes:
- Celery / celery juice
- Cucumber / cucumber juice
- Apples / apple juice
- Watermelon / watermelon juice
- Celtic sea salt or Himalayan rock salt (just a pinch in your water!)
Throughout the summer and onwards, drink up and keep hydrated, friends!
To learn more, check out our post on Water Filtration!
Candace Bell is a visual artist (BAh) and holistic-as-heck nutritionist (CNPh) who wants to show the world what a dramatic impact diet and lifestyle can have on overall health: not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. With a big focus on digestive wellness, Candace teaches that how you eat can be just as important was what you eat. She teaches both private and public cooking classes and workshops, and instructs the Holistic Food Preparation Course for the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. Candace specializes in delicious concoctions, self-empowering re-education, dietary transitions, nurturing creativity, a noisy enthusiasm for eating, giggly times, and cheesy rhymes. You can find more from her at holisticasheck.ca or follow her on Instagram as @holisticasheck
1.Batmanghelidj, F. 2008. Your Body’s Many Cries for Water. Pg 3
3. ibid pg. 128
4. Batmanghelidj, F. 2008. Your Body’s Many Cries for Water. Pg 117
5. Perrier, E.T. 2017. Shifting Focus: From Hydration for Performance to Hydration for Health. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2861481