When the body needs water our brains send the signal of thirst – an essential survival mechanism that maintains fluid balance. Having a pre-filled water flask always on hand is one of the best ways we can practice smart hydration. But even with the super sleek containers available today, most people still do not reach adequate water intake.
Every process in the body requires water – not enough and you could face more than dehydration. Kidney stones, loss of cognitive function, constipation, and fatigue can all be related to poor fluid balance. During active medical treatments for breast cancer, hydration is essential for tolerating chemotherapy and radiation, and reducing side effects.
There is no ONE fluid-intake recommendation that will suffice for everyone
because of the wide diversity of fluid needs of each individual. During chemotherapy, for example you may need 2-3 quarts of water every 24 hours.
Factors such as environment, activity level, how much we eat, and health status may impact needs so check with your practitioner about your personal requirements. Adequate water intake also helps the following:
Eliminate waste from the body
Maintain normal body temperature
Maintain healthy tissue
Encourage optimal metabolism
What are the effects of fluid loss? Here's the formula:
2-3% body water loss = impaired endurance
3% body water loss = decrease in metabolism
4% body water loss = strength declines
5% body water loss = heat exhaustion
7 smart ways to hydrate
Of course, drinking water is always appropriate, but here are 7 smart ways to hydrate to achieve optimal hydration. We love you water, but sometimes we’re looking for something a little less…meh. The requisite lemon wedge is always nice, but we’re often left wanting more.
Here are seven smart ways to hydrate:
Eat foods that are high in water content such as watermelon, cantaloupe, bell pepper, tomatoes, and cucumber.
Consume simply prepared foods that have water as a primary ingredient such as ice pops, soups, teas, flavored seltzers, and sugar-free beverages.
Flavor your water and keep it interesting! Simply add citrus wedges and fresh herbs for a refreshing beverage or you can muddle soft fruit, such as watermelon and strawberries, to add more flavor density.
Drink a glass of water upon rising in the morning then schedule regular hydration breaks throughout the day. Bundling drinking with other tasks like getting up from your desk, going for a walk, or eating a meal can support meeting your hydration needs. If you need a more deliberate reminder, load a free water-tracking app on your phone.
Carry a water bottle with you and always have one in the car if you drive frequently. You will increase the likelihood of consuming fluid if it is always available.
Don't wait until you are thirsty to drink. Thirst is your body's signal that it is dehydrated or about to be so staying ahead of your hydration needs can help prevent dehydration from happening. This is particularly important for children as thirst cues can often be missed.
Pay attention to the weather. If it is warm enough for you to perspire, your hydration needs will likely increase and you will need to consume more water.
Finally, exercise and activity levels can significantly affect your hydration and sodium needs. Drink water before, during, and after exercise.
Keeping water at your bedside is a smart way to hydrate
Final words on smart ways to hydrate
When the body needs water our brains send the signal of thirst. Answer the call with smart ways to hydrate and support optimal hydration. Eat foods high in water, including prepared foods with water and flavored water. Drink often, carry a water bottle, and don't wait until you are thirsty to drink, especially in warm and humid weather, and if you exercise.
If you’d like some motivation and see how simple and delicious this can be, I’d encourage you to try recipes from my Mediterranean diet meal plan. As a registered dietitian nutritionist who works with people experiencing cancer, I’d love to help. I offer clients support to plan, shop, and prepare more nutritious and healthy meals for yourself or your family. Here is my link to book a chat about making sure to meet your nutritional needs.