How to hydrate your body
Why is hydration so important? Water is a principal component of your body and is necessary for the proper function of your bodily systems. We’ll discuss why hydration is important, factors that impact hydration, and tips and methods to hydrate effectively.
Do I Need to Hydrate?
You need to be hydrated for many bodily processes to function normally. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough water for normal function. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy or cause other problems such as lack of focus and negative moods (often including irritability).
Slight changes to the balance of water and electrolytes can impact the function of several bodily processes and how you feel overall. Water is necessary to:
- Rid your body of waste through urine, sweat, and bowel movements (water also leaves your body with every exhalation)
- Maintain normal body temperature
- Lubricate and cushion your joints
- Protect tissue
- Maintain metabolism
How to Hydrate Your Body and Skin
Dehydration can lead to inflammation of the skin, like acne or redness. Your body needs both water and essential fatty acids to hydrate the skin and minimize these issues.
Water-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables can help prevent some of the issues of dehydration. A healthy diet depends upon moderation and it can be challenging to find balance. Some foods might cause skin inflammation. We suggest chatting with a nutritional expert or your primary care provider to find out what foods are triggering inflammation.
Many skincare products claim to be hydrating and nourishing for your skin. How do you find what works for you? Like most things, an effective skincare regimen requires moderation. Skincare depends on finding a balance of ingredients that work well together.
Remember that most practices (dietary or other aspects of your lifestyle) won’t be beneficial overnight and work most effectively when used consistently. Some lifestyle practices (outside of your diet) to hydrate your skin include:
- Using a humidifier
- Washing with a gentle cleanser
- Moisturizing after washing (hands, face, body, etc.)
- Limiting or avoiding the use of skincare products with harsher ingredients (for example, fragrances)
- Protecting your skin from extreme temperatures, both hot and cold (wear gloves when it’s cold outside)
Natural Ways to Rehydrate Your Body
Plain water isn’t the only hydration source, so you don’t have to be overly concerned with recommendations such as drinking 8 tall glasses of water daily. Other things you eat or drink hydrate your body as well because they also contain water. It can be helpful to include water-rich foods in your diet. Some foods that are considered more hydrating (have a higher water content) are:
- Vegetables including celery, cucumbers, lettuce, broccoli, kale, and zucchini
- Melons including watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe
- Berries and citrus fruits
- Milk and plant-based milk alternatives
- Soups, stews, and broths
Factors that Influence Hydration Needs
Hydration is more complex than it appears on the surface. It isn’t as simple as consuming food and drink. Ingredients like salt, sugar, and caffeine all influence how your body uses fluid. Caffeine is a diuretic and increases the amount of water and salt expelled from the body as urine.
However, it’s unclear whether drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks can lead to dehydration because of the amount of fluid they provide. Water is needed to metabolize sugar and, to continue the normal functioning of other systems requiring water, you might need to increase your water intake. Finding the proper amount of water for your needs can be challenging, even though there are dietary recommendations. Your needs depend on:
- Activity levels
- Overall health
- Environmental factors such as climate
Tips for Effective Hydration
Your body needs to be hydrated, but not overly hydrated. Your kidneys can’t get rid of excess water effectively. When your kidneys can’t handle the excess water, it dilutes the sodium content in your blood, potentially causing hyponatremia.
Hyponatremia, or low sodium concentration in the blood, can be life-threatening, but it’s a rare condition. How can you tell if you’re hydrated well enough? If you’re rarely thirsty and your urine is colorless or light yellow, you’re most likely adequately hydrated. Make it easier to consume enough water and keep hydration in mind by:
- Taking a water bottle everywhere
- Flavoring your water
- Eating water-dense foods like celery or berries
- Creating a routine around drinking water throughout the day
Further tips for staying well-hydrated include sleeping enough, paying attention to both what and how much you’re consuming (food and drink), and avoiding products that can irritate your skin. Your body does a lot of repair work while you’re sleeping (this is why “getting your beauty sleep” is so important). The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
If you have lingering questions about staying hydrated, we suggest speaking with a nutritional expert or your primary care provider. They may be able to help figure out a routine that works for you.