We’ve all heard the recommendation to drink more water but the fact is that most of us are simply not getting enough. The saying that 8 glasses a day are enough may be okay under normal conditions, but when we combine exercise, consumption of caffeine containing drinks (such as soda, coffee, or tea), and a dry climate we have to take into account that these factors cause an even greater loss of water and so increase our daily requirements.
So how do we know how much water to drink and if we are adequately hydrated? One way is to monitor our level of thirst. Our bodies are incredible machines that send us signals to drink when our tanks are running low. But the problem with this is that thirst is really a late sign of dehydration and so not really the best indicator for when to drink more water. Another way that is probably more effective is to look at the color of your urine. If it is clear, chances are that you are well hydrated. But if it’s foamy, yellow, or appears highly concentrated then you’re probably in need of water
For surgical patients, fluid requirements can increase even more because of loss of water through drains after procedures such as tummy tucks or breast revisions. Another procedure which can increase your fluid requirements is laser resurfacing. During resurfacing, the upper protective layer of the skin is often injured (intentionally) and water can now readily escape leaving you more dehydrated than you realize.
The bottom line is that water is incredibly important for your health and is something that most of us are simply not getting enough of. That being said, be careful about re-hydrating with water alone after vigorous exercise because you may actually cause more harm than good. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes such as sodium and potassium in the sweat and so these levels can reduce dramatically based upon the degree of exertion. If you simply drink plain water, you then dilute out these levels even more and may end up cramping or worse. Under these conditions, a good sports drink (watch out for sugar!) or coconut water can be an excellent way to replace not only lost water but also lost electrolytes and minerals.
To learn more about why you should be drinking more water, CLICK HERE to check out this great post from our friends at The Greatist.
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