Studying the Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated
A new study gives us even more reason to fill our water glass. The study suggests that people who are well-hydrated are less likely to develop many chronic diseases and may even live longer than those who don’t drink enough fluids.
Researchers caution that the study can’t speak to cause and effect, only that there seems to be an association between being adequately hydrated and being healthier. Of course, people who drink water regularly are also more likely to have other healthy habits. For example, being physically active, making good food choices, and keeping up with routine health checks and screenings—all of which also support good health and can help prevent chronic illness.
8 Tips to Get Enough Water
- Make drinking a glass of water one of the first things you do each morning—and before each meal.
- Check the color of your urine. Your urine can tell you a lot about whether you are getting enough fluids. It should ideally be clear or a light-colored yellow, and if it’s darker, you’ll know you need to be more hydrated.
- Invest in a fun reusable water bottle. Set reminders if you need a nudge to drink throughout the day.
- Mix up your water options. Try adding some fruit, like pineapple, watermelon, or lemon, or vegetables and herbs, like cucumber or mint. Choose seltzer or sparkling water over juices and sugary beverages.
- Don’t forget fluids are in many foods too. About 20% of the fluid we need comes from foods like vegetables and fruits.
- If you feel thirsty—and certainly if your lips show signs of being dry—you’re already not getting enough fluids. Start drinking water right away if you have these symptoms.
- Up your water intake when it’s hot and humid, especially if you are also being active.
- Limit alcohol and caffeinated drinks. These can cause you to lose water.
Signs You Aren’t Drinking Enough Water
Not being well hydrated can leave you feeling sluggish and generally unwell. Common signs may include:
- Dark yellow or orange urine (the darker your urine, the more dehydrated you are)
- Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or tired
- Having a dry mouth or lips
- Getting more headaches
- Feeling nauseous
- Getting muscle cramps when you’re active
How Much Water Should You Drink?
It really depends on your age, how active you are, where you live (in terms of the climate), body weight, and certain medical conditions. If you have heart failure or another condition for which you need to be careful of how much fluid you drink each day, talk with your doctor or dietitian about how to stay hydrated.
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Written by Amanda Crowe, MA, MPH