Staying Hydrated for Good Health

By Dr. Michael Smith, ND

As I was traveling this past weekend and passing through several airports, I realized that I hadn’t been drinking much water. This was mostly due to the latest security restrictions limiting liquids in the airport and on airplanes. In the past, while traveling, I always packed a liter or two of water, especially for the longer flights.

Drinking water, as most of you know is important for your good health. Our bodies are primarily composed of water, and staying well hydrated supports all of the essential functions of your body. Drinking an adequate amount of water keeps your kidneys functioning optimally, your blood flowing more easily so that it can carry nutrients to every cell in your body and flush out wastes. Water also supports waste removal with regular bowel movements and urination. Additionally, it improves workability of your joints by maintaining sufficient fluid levels which supports lubrication and cushioning of joints. Optimal brain function is also supported by sufficient water intake.

So how much water do we need to drink each day? Well it depends…we often hear the eight glasses of water a day as the recommended amount, but this may not be sufficient for everybody. A good guideline that I give my patients is ½ of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you are 160 pounds, then you should consume around 80 ounces of water daily. You will need more water if you are very active, traveling to higher altitudes or dryer climates.

Do teas, coffee, sodas, and juices count? Well, you can count all liquids that are not dehydrating. Any caffeinated or alcoholic beverage is going to increase urination, and therefore have a dehydrating effect. In addition to water, you can enjoy unsweetened herbal teas that would count towards your daily intake. The occasional small glass, 4-6 ounces, of 100% fruit juice is fine to have, but there is no need to be drinking juices in larger quantities. Juices, even 100% all natural, organic fruit juices are still mostly sugar and don’t have a lot of nutritional value. Eating the whole fruit is a much better idea.

Let’s talk about sodas for a minute. There is no nutritional benefit in drinking this stuff; regular, diet, or caffeine-free. Most sodas are full of chemicals and sugar and do nothing for your health. If you feel the need for a bubbly fix, a great alternative would be seltzer water. These days you can find carbonated water that comes in a variety of naturally flavored choices and are unsweetened. They taste great and can help to keep you well hydrated when you are looking for something different.

What kind of water should you drink? This is always a tough question for me to answer. I don’t recommend tap water. Tap water has high levels of chlorine and in most places is fluoridated. Another option for your home would be to install a reverse osmosis system. This purification process eliminates almost all of the chemicals and contaminants that should not be in your water.

Staying well-hydrated while traveling has become more challenging. Some things that you can do to improve your hydration status is:

  1. Begin to increase your water intake the day before you travel
  2. Avoid dehydrating (alcohol and caffeine) beverages the day of your travel
  3. Bring a small disposable water bottle with you to the airport and drink it before you pass through security
  4. If your flight is delayed, or you will be spending longer than expected in the airport terminal, be prepared to spend a few bucks and buy yourself a bottle of water
  5. Ask for two glasses of water during the flight’s beverage service, and don’t be afraid to request more
  6. Drink water once you get to your destination; if someone is picking you up, ask them to bring a bottle of water for you.

My next flight is about to board, and I just finished my 24 ounce bottle of water. Keep these tips in mind next time you travel. They will help you feel better, reduce headaches, constipation, jet lag, and improve your mental focus. Happy drinking!

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