How to stay hydrated

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Figuring out how to stay hydrated has become a popular topic of conversation in recent years. More and more people are investing in one of the best water bottles as a way of ensuring that they meet the recommended daily intake of fluid to keep their bodies firing on all cylinders.

While the amount of fluid you should be consuming for optimal health will vary based on your gender, diet, activity level and the climate you live in, personal trainer Elliot Hasoon says there is a general rule of thumb that you can use to guide you. “The average woman should aim to consume 2.7 liters [11.4 cups] per day and the average man should aim for 3.7 liters [15.6 cups] per day," he explains.

You probably already know that hydration is important for health and while knowing how much you should be drinking is one thing, making sure you stay sufficiently hydrated each day is another story entirely. The good news is, we’re here to help you with that. 

From staying in the shade to eating fruits and vegetables that are high in water, we’ll be discussing all of the best ways to maintain optimal levels of hydration, including what to drink, where to find the best humidifiers, and more. 

Why is hydration important?

Is hydration really that important? Well, the short answer is, yes, it's important to stay hydrated. According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration can lead to a number of unpleasant side effects, including fatigue, dizziness, extreme thirst, confusion and a disrupted urination schedule. 

Staying hydrated is especially important for people with diabetes, heatstroke, or active lifestyles. It's also important for people with dry skin. As Joyce Carslaw, founder of SmartAss Beauty, told Live Science, "Skin needs moisture to stay flexible. Even mild dehydration will cause your skin to look dry, tired, and slightly gray." 

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Staying hydrated comes with plenty of benefits:

It helps you perform physically: Athletes tend to lose 6-10% of their body's water content in sweat — as a 2016 study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found, losing just 2% can impair physical performance. If you find yourself losing motivation or tiring during workouts, you may be dehydrated. Increasing the amount of water you drink during workouts will help you perform at your best.

It supports high energy levels: If you begin to become dehydrated, you may find yourself feeling tired and unmotivated. A study in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal revealed that staying hydrated can boost cognitive function and help to ward off memory loss and mood swings.

It helps to support the digestive system: A 2015 study published in the Canadian Family Physician journal, found that inadequate water consumption could lead to constipation in people of all ages. Further research published in 2017 in the European Journal of Nutrition found that drinking mineral water could improve bowel movement health for people with constipation. It seems there is something to the theory that drinking lots of water can "flush out the system."

It reduces the severity of hangovers: There is an urban myth that hangovers are caused by dehydration. However, this isn't entirely true. While drinking water won't get rid of your hangover, it can help you feel a little better. A 2017 study published in the Japanese Dental Science Review showed that thirst and mouth dryness are common side effects of alcohol consumption — so, rehydrating after a big night out may help you to minimize the pain the next day. 

Tips for staying hydrated

It's a bit of an urban myth that we need eight glasses of water a day. In reality, most humans probably drink the right amount of water for their bodies. According to a report published by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide." 

Nevertheless, if you're in doubt about how much water to drink, or if you want to increase your water intake, aiming for eight glasses can be a good place to start. 

"Drink six to eight glasses of water a day — any type of fluids count towards your daily allowance, but water is the best," says Carslaw. "If you work in an office, keep a large bottle of water on your desk to remind you to drink. Herbal, caffeine-free teas are good too. Don't forget that some fruit and vegetables, such as watermelon, courgette, and cucumber also contribute fluids with the added benefit that the minerals they contain will increase the rate you hydrate your body and skin."

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Want to make sure you stay hydrated all day every day? Try following these tips:

  • Stay in the shade, wear a hat, and bring a bottle of water with you in hot weather. Sun exposure can lead to heatstroke, which in turn, can lead to dehydration. 
  • If you find yourself forgetting to drink during the day, keep a large water bottle on your desk at work to remind you to keep drinking. 
  • If you really struggle to remember to drink water, try keeping track of your water intake with an app or in a diary. 
  • Drink extra water after diuretics like coffee and alcohol, which can dehydrate the body. 
  • ‘Eat’ water with fruits and vegetables, such as cucumber, watermelon, berries, oranges, and lettuce. 
  • Invest in one of the best humidifiers to keep moisture in the air on dry days. 
  • Purchase a good moisturizer to lock moisture into the skin to prevent skin dryness.
  • Make hydration fun! Try adding effervescent tablets to your water to give it more flavor. Mix things up with herbal tea. Invest in a nice water bottle that you enjoy drinking out of.  

Staying hydrated is pretty important. It may not be vital to drink eight glasses a day as some of the hydration-obsessed celebrities may have you believe, but it’s still important to maintain a good level of hydration. Aim to drink six to eight glasses of water a day, and increase your water intake after a long day in the sun or a particularly sweaty workout. And remember, at the end of the day, the body knows how to give you a sign that it needs hydrating. So, if you're thirsty, drink!

Meg Walters
Freelance Writer

Meg Walters is a freelance journalist and features writer. Raised in Canada and based in South East London, Meg covers culture, entertainment, lifestyle, and health. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, i-D, Refinery29, Stylist, GQ, Shondaland, Healthline, HelloGiggles and other publications. When she's not writing, Meg is probably daydreaming about traveling the world, re-watching an old rom-com with a glass of wine, or wasting time on Twitter, where you can follow her @wordsbymeg.