By Kathy Hubbard
In your heart of hearts, you know it’s good for your heart to keep hydrated, don’t you? And we’re repeatedly told how important hydration is for keeping us cool, from getting heat exhaustion or stroke, and keeping us alive.
So, how much water do you really need, and what are the benefits? I’m so glad you asked. Let’s start with the quantity. Familydoctor.org said:
“Most people have been told they should drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. That’s a reasonable goal. However, different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. Most healthy people can stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty.”
Although good old-fashioned water – even out of the tap – is the best hydrator, there are other options such as vegetable juices, milk, and herbal teas. Even caffeinated drinks can contribute to your daily water intake.
“A moderate amount of caffeine (400 milligrams) isn’t harmful for most people,” Familydoctor.org said. 12 ounces of soda will have 30 to 40 milligrams; 8 ounces of green or black tea from 30 to 50 milligrams; 8 ounces of black coffee 80 to 100 milligrams and an 8-ounce energy drink will have 40 to 250 milligrams. Remember, children and teens should not drink energy drinks.
When looking at non-water drink choices, be sure to look at the calories contained. I counted nine coffee drinks at Starbucks that came in over 420 calories. Yup, that’s for one16 ounce drink and adds up to a little over 20 percent of a man’s recommended total daily calorie intake.
The National Council on Aging was the resource for the ten big benefits of staying hydrated. Why the council on aging? Because adults 60 and older are at greater risk for dehydration due to changes in our body composition, our level of thirst, and the fact that we’re more apt to take medications that deplete body fluid.
However, keeping hydrated isn’t just for seniors. Younger people reap these benefits as well.
- NCA states that the number one reason to keep hydrated is to improve brain performance. “Even mild dehydration – as little as 2 percent fluid loss – can affect memory, mood, concentration, and reaction time. Adding just a few glasses of water to your daily intake can have a positive effect on cognition, stabilize your emotions, and even combat feelings of anxiety,” NCA said. They also said:
- Being well-hydrated aids in digestion. “Without enough water, you may experience irregular bowel movements, gas, bloating, heartburn, and other discomforts that can hurt your quality of life.”
- It can give you more energy. “Dehydration can slow down circulation and affect oxygen flow to your brain. A lack of fluids can also cause your heart to work harder to pump oxygen all throughout your body. All of that expended energy can make you feel tired, sluggish, and less focused.”
- Water can help weight management. “Since it provides a sense of fullness, water can help you feel satisfied between meals …it can also help boost your metabolism. According to a 2016 study, adults who upped their water intake by just one percent consumed fewer calories.”
- The cartilage in your joints contains around 80 percent water, so “5. Staying hydrated helps your joints stay well-lubricated, which helps reduce friction by creating more of a ‘cushion’ between the bones.”
- “Research shows that your body stores more heat when you’re dehydrated. This, in turn, lowers your ability to tolerate hot temperatures. Drinking plenty of water helps you produce sweat when you’re overheated during activity, which in turn cools your body down.”
- Adequate amounts of water can prevent the development of kidney stones.
- Hydration is beneficial to our hearts because our blood is mostly H2O, and without it, an imbalance of vital minerals (electrolytes) can occur.
- “Sufficient water intake supports your body’s natural detoxification systems, which remove waste and harmful substances through urination, breathing, perspiration, and bowel movements.”
- And number 10 is that staying hydrated can lead to fewer headaches. “Even a mild fluid loss can cause the brain to contract away from the skull, leading to headaches and migraines,” NCA said.
Kathy Hubbard is a member of the Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article was written for and published in the Bonner County Daily Bee on July 20, 2022.