Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Water, it Does a Body Good!

By the time you notice your mouth feeling dry, or your lips feeling chapped, you are already dehydrated. The average American walks around dehydrated most of the time. This is partly because of our cultural affinity for dehydrating beverages such as coffee and soda (yes, if you didn't know that, you did hear correctly--some things actually leech water out of your system, even though they are liquid...evil, isn't it?!)
The recommendations for water consumption vary, but pretty much everyone agrees that we need to drink more water than we do. One common recommendation is 8 8oz glasses of water per day (that's 64oz, or a half-gallon). Since every body is a different size though, I find that a better guideline is to drink 1 oz of water for every 2 lbs of body weight. 100 lbs = 50 oz, 150 lbs = can do the math for you. ☺

Being sufficiently hydrated helps metabolism. It improves skin clarity and elasticity, and tends to help control overeating (many people do not know how to differentiate between hunger and thirst, so they eat when they should drink...if you learn to drink more water, you'll probably eat less, and will very likely lose some extra weight). You will probably get less sick less often, and recover sooner.
Dehydration in pregnancy increases the likely hood of tearing at delivery (remember that skin elasticity part?), and slower healing afterward. It may increase the likelihood of stretchmarks (though that is mostly genetic). It exacerbates nausea, and can lead to weak contractions, long labors, and maternal exhaustion in labor. Along with poor diet, it can increase the risk of gestational diabetes. And remember all that stuff I mentioned before about how your blood volume increases by 50% during pregnancy? Guess what, you need water for that too.

SO, assuming that you are now convinced of the need for more water in your daily regimen, here is a list of ideas that can help you increase your water intake:
  • Drink a glass of water before every meal. This can help those wanting to control portion size, but it's also a good way to get in some extra water every day. (A commenter noted that drinking with meals is actually bad if you have problems with heartburn--so try drinking 30 min before the meal, or saving a little room and drinking afterwards.)
  • Rather than just rinsing, drink a glass of water when you brush your teeth.
  • Carry a water bottle around with you at work/school. Take a drink every time you remember it. Make a goal to empty a certain size bottle each up to bigger/more bottles until you are drinking the amount you should be.
  • Keep a cup in the bathroom. Every time you empty your bladder, drink a glass of water. (This has the added benefit of being cyclical, as the extra drinking will have you making extra potty trips, and thus drinking all the more...but don't worry, the extra potty trips will ease off within a week or two as your body gets used to finally having enough water in it.)
  • Use a big cup! The average person will drain their glass, so use a bigger one for good liquids (like water) and a smaller one for other drinks (like soda or juice).
  • Stop drinking other things. When you are thirsty, regardless of what you think you want to drink, get a glass of water first, or instead. (I actually find that I no longer crave milk, and I usually find fruit juices too sweet. I can handle about two swallows of soda pop. When I want a drink of something, I almost always drink water.)
  • Try establishing a water-drinking habit by going for a week with no other drinks--just water.
  • Do you have other tips? Leave them in the comments and I'll add them to the list!

See more WorksForMeWednesdays here.


Becky N. said...

Yay for water!

Some extra points for consideration:
-I've read that a lot of times, if your child is acting extra moody/cranky/unruly, dehydration could be the root of the problem. Give them a nice big drink of water and see if it improves their behavior! I've seen it work with my own kids.

- A great majority of the time, my headaches are caused by the lack of enough water. If I feel a headache just starting, I can usually nip it in the bud by drinking a couple glasses of water quickly and then keeping another glass with me and sipping from it for the next couple hours.

Katrina said...

In addition, if you are going several hours in between bathroom trips, and your urine is a dark yellow, those are two other indicators that you are dehydrated.

Meshellyn said...

I have a large 32 ounce jug that I drink from on days that I remember to do so. Now that I'm breastfeeding I actually seem to crave water, so I'm using it more often. My goal is to fill it in the morning and drink on it throughout the day, keeping it near me. I also take it to bed, so when I wake up for a night feeding I can drink then too, cause I'd hate to have to walk all the downstairs just for a drink of water - and probably wouldn't!

I need a water bottle to stick in one of the outer pockets of my diaper bag, so when I fill my toddler's cup to take with us on outings I'll have my own to fill too.

sara said...

I agree with people NEEDING to drink more water. I got dehydrated with my last birth and I bled a lot and had to be medicated and it was a lot harder to recover from and my milk took ages to come in.

I don't recommend drinking a glass of water before a meal though most specifically for pregnant women, but for those who easily get heartburn. And especially, especially don't drink WHILE eating. I understand it can fill you up a little bit but it also can create pockets so the food kind of "floats" rather than enter the stomach to be digested and then creates digestion and heartburn problems for people prone to them. My dad has a hiatal hernia and has had to have his esophagus stretched and that is one of the biggest rules the specialists give him.

Rachel said...

Great information! I love water. Aside from pizza night, it's about all I drink. Gotta have Dr. Pepper with pizza.... ;)

flowerpot said...

This is just what I needed to read today! Thanks!

Jessica said...

I've found that even when I think I want something sweeter, watering down my juice (2 oz of juice to 4 oz of water) or having water with a slice or two of lemon is just enough flavor. Hubby hates when I water down a whole pitcher of juice, but it makes it last a lot longer!

Janeen said...

Check out this article, there are actually some who say that the whole 8x8 water a day is a myth:

Petit Mouton on Etsy said...

Another tip:

My friend has put reminders in her Outlook at work throughout the day to have a drink.

She also has her cell phone buzzing a couple times to remind her to drink some water.

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