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The Importance of Hydration


Do you ever tell yourself “I’m going to drink more water”, and then get to the end of the day and realize the bottle you had filled that morning is still full? In light of all the millions of other things that take up time in your day, it is really easy to let your hydration goals slip to the bottom of the priority list. However, what many people don’t realize is that drinking plenty of water is actually one of the best ways to increase productivity throughout the day and maintain a healthy lifestyle overall.

Drinking water has a drastic effect on brain function. Our brain cells are some of the most valuable cells we have, and ensuring that they are operating efficiently is an important way to increase productivity on a day-to-day basis. Without enough water, the careful balance of materials within each cell is offset. The exciting news is that with proper hydration, we can ensure that the balance within our brain cells is maintained, giving us some control over how efficiently our brain functions.

When your water intake is low you may notice that, in addition to a foggy brain, you are experiencing a lack of energy. This is a very common symptom of dehydration. Since our bodies are comprised of approximately 60% water, and our organs depend on water to operate properly, poor hydration can cause our bodily systems to function below their optimum level. Research has shown that even mild levels of dehydration can leave you feeling sluggish and cranky. Therefore, before reaching for some caffeine during the mid-afternoon slump, try to drink some water and see if that does the trick.

Water also plays a crucial role in any healthy and effective weight loss regimen. If you are trying to lose weight, the goal is to eat nutritious meals that keep you satisfied until it is time to eat again. However, dehydration can be a huge road block in this process. The part of your brain responsible for regulating appetite is also tasked with regulating thirst. When you haven’t had enough water, this part of your brain may get confused, which results in a mix-up of signals. Therefore, you may find yourself thinking that you are hungry when you’re not. If you end up eating in these scenarios, to curb what feels like hunger, you will be consuming calories that your body doesn’t need. So, next time you feel that familiar rumble in the stomach, try drinking a glass or two of water before adding an extra snack to your day.

Often times when people exercise, the assumption is that they should have some sort of sports drink to fuel their workout. In reality, these drinks are highly caloric, loaded with sugar, and will often do much more harm than good. Sticking with water will keep you adequately hydrated without promoting weight gain. Since your body is actively losing water through sweat and breathing during exercise, it is important to drink water before, during, and/or after your workout. This will keep your muscles working at a more desirable level.

So, how much water should you have? A good rule of thumb is to abide by the Institute of Medicines recommendation to strive for eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. However, it is important to listen to your body and pay attention to your environment, and drink additional water if necessary. The important thing to remember is that if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Therefore, the best strategy is to drink water throughout the day to avoid the symptoms discussed above, allowing your body function at an optimal level.

Tips for drinking more water: 1. Try flavoring your water by infusing it with fruit, mint, or even some basil!

2. Drink seltzer water if you like fizzy drinks, flavored is ok!

3. Set alarms or reminders on your phone to remind you to drink throughout the day.

4. Keep a water log! Tracking your water may motivate you to drink more.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

330 Brookline Ave

Boston, MA 02215

wellpowered@bidmc.harvard.edu

Tel: 617-735-2518

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