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Healthy Hydration

Stay Hydrated. Stay Healthy. 

 

Healthy Hydration

At Anahana, we believe that getting enough water is a pillar of good health. We’re on a mission to get our clients to not only drink more water, but to also start noticing their intake, the quality of their water, and what benefits they derive from it.

It goes without saying that water is critical to our survival, health, and longevity. Yet there are still many unanswered questions about this essential nutrient. Ahead, we explore exactly why water is so vital, how it nourishes our systems, and what you can do to cultivate a long-lasting habit of healthy hydration.

 

If You’re Reading This, Chances Are You’re Dehydrated

It’s common knowledge that humans need enough daily water to survive and thrive. But if you think you’re drinking enough water, the unfortunate news is you’re probably wrong. In fact, according to a recent survey of U.S. citizens, 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

Don’t feel dehydrated?

Actually, most people don’t. That’s because “feeling parched” isn’t a reliable indicator of the initial stages of dehydration. There are many other symptoms that show up before thirst, which better signify your body’s need for water.

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Common Symptoms of Dehydration

If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night aching for a big gulp of water, the truth is your dehydration likely started hours before you went to bed. Feeling thirsty is a late-stage symptom of dehydration. More reliable, first-stage symptoms of dehydration can be subtle, but often include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dull headaches
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Irritability
  • Trouble focusing
 

The Benefits of Healthy Hydration

There’s no doubt that increasing your water intake benefits the body from the inside out. From younger-looking skin to improvements in mood and sleep, a healthy hydration habit aids the body’s ability to cleanse and rejuvenate. In fact, the better hydrated you are, the better everything in your body works.

Let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits you can expect when you up your daily consumption of water. While some are fairly obvious, others may surprise you.

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Better Weight Management

With overweight and obesity on the rise, Americans are looking for ways to curb their appetites and slim their waistlines. 

These efforts are not without merit. Being overweight or obese comes with a host of accompanying risk factors, including an increased likelihood of developing:

  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol)
  • Low levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL cholesterol)
  • Stroke
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Arthritis and other joint problems
  • Certain cancers (such as liver, kidney, colon, breast, gallbladder, and endometrial cancers)
  • Clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions
  • Breathing issues such as sleep apnea

Naturally, better nutrition and increased physical activity are two ways to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, when needed. However, increased hydration can also lead to better weight management.

 

How Increased Hydration Helps Weight Management

Science tells us that the more water you drink, the healthier your body weight is likely to be. A recent scientific review published in Frontiers in Nutrition found that “increased water intake is associated with loss of body weight produced via two mechanisms, decreased feeding and increased lipolysis.”

In other words, staying hydrated will help you maintain a healthier body weight overall for two reasons. First, it will help you eat fewer calories. Second, a process called lipolysis increases the more water you consume. Lipolysis is the breakdown of fats as a result of their reaction with water in the body.

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What Is “Pre-Drinking” and What Does It Do?

“Pre-drinking” is a highly effective tool for weight loss and weight maintenance. It involves consuming water before consuming meals and/or snacks in order to decrease the number of calories consumed when eating.

The next time you feel hunger pangs, consider reaching for a glass of water. Try anticipating your hunger so that you can take a drink approximately 30 minutes prior to your meals. Drinking regularly throughout the day will help with this, but that extra glass right before eating is key and will ultimately result in reduced calorie intake.

In fact, some people say that they don’t end up eating at all after “pre-drinking.” Often, when you think your body is hungry, it’s actually just thirsty.

Even if you truly are hungry, drinking water before meals can result in consuming an average of 75 fewer calories per meal. Even more impressive, drinking water before just one meal per day would cause you to consume 27,000 fewer calories per year.

 

Easier Attainment of Fitness Goals

Drinking water while exercising is standard for most athletes — whether professional or novice. Not only does it replenish the water lost through sweat and quench that aching thirst that routinely creeps up during a good workout, but water also helps rebuild muscle and connective tissue. It can lubricate the joints both pre- and post-workout as well.

For serious athletes or anyone with fitness goals in mind during their workouts, it’s important to note that research also suggests that water can increase performance. Dehydration, on the other hand, can reduce performance in activities longer than 30 minutes. This is yet another reason to continually replenish your body’s water supply for optimal performance during exercise.

 

How Much Water (and What Type) Should You Drink During a Workout?

We recommend drinking approximately 250 mL (~ 8.5 ounces) of water for every 20 minutes of exercise you perform. It’s also advisable to consider the electrolytes you lose during exercise. 

When you sweat, your body loses electrolytes, which are electrically charged minerals and other compounds found naturally in the body. Electrolytes are essential to your body because they help it move and perform daily physical activities (including exercise). For instance, electrolytes help your muscles contract. This includes the contraction of your heart muscle every time it beats. 

Additionally, electrolytes help your body:

  • Produce natural energy
  • Keep your blood pH levels at a normal range
  • Build tissue
  • Clot blood
  • Transmit nerve signals back and forth between muscle, nerve, heart, and other cells
  • Regulate your body’s blood plasma fluid levels

Electrolytes include minerals like potassium, sodium, chloride, and calcium. When you lose these minerals, you need to replenish them. Water alone doesn’t quite cut it in this case, which is why we advise drinking a sports drink with electrolytes during a hard workout or, even better, adding some coconut water to your hydration bottle.

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Improved Skin

Nourishing your skin from the inside out is actually possible. While most people assume that moisturizers, lotions, and oils are the only way to attain better-hydrated skin, it’s actually more likely that drinking more water will give you your desired results. Furthermore, as a result of better-hydrated skin, you’ll benefit from fewer fine lines and wrinkles. 

 

How Staying Hydrated Can Help Minimize Fine Lines & Wrinkles

A recent study looked at this possibility in depth, studying two groups of females (49 females in total) and how their water consumption related to the hydration in their skin (specifically, hydration levels in the face). 

One of the two groups of females consistently consumed less than 3,200 mL (~108 ounces) of water per day, and the other group consistently consumed more than 3,200 mL (~108 ounces) of water per day.

The results showed that the group of women who consistently consumed more than 3,200 mL of water per day had better hydrated skin. Findings from the study lead “the authors to suggest that increasing the dietary water take would affect the skin the same way as a topical moisturizer.” The authors went on to conclude that the “impact on epidermal hydration was consistently noticed in both surface and deep hydration variables.”

 

Better Concentration and Enhanced Mood

So far, we've been focusing on the physical benefits of drinking enough water. But the truth is that increasing your water intake can affect you mentally and emotionally as well. 

This is because how much water you have in your system is directly related to how tired, irritable, and focused you feel. In general, researchers have found that the more dehydrated you are, the higher the likelihood that you’ll be fatigued, ill-tempered, and unmotivated.

Mindy L. Millard-Stafford, a professor at Georgia Tech in the Biological Sciences Department of the College of Sciences found this out when she analyzed 33 studies relating to concentration, mood, and water consumption. Her analysis found that those attempting to carry out complex tasks while under-hydrated were less likely to perform well. Even mild dehydration hindered their ability to concentrate and execute tasks that required a lot of attention.

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How Staying Hydrated Can Optimize Serotonin and Help You Avoid Depression

In addition to helping people improve their focus and perform better at complicated tasks, it’s also been shown that regular, daily hydration helps balance out negative stress hormones and stimulates the release of the positive-response hormone called serotonin.

Serotonin is produced in the brain, and it is a type of neurotransmitter. This means its chemical makeup is such that it can help communicate brain signals from one brain area to another. As a result, serotonin influences nearly all of the 40 million brain cells that an individual has in their brain. It is involved with memory, appetite, temperature regulation, learning, memory, and social behavior.

If an individual has an imbalance of serotonin, research has shown that this can greatly influence their mood — and not in a good way. In fact, an imbalance of serotonin is often seen as one of the main causes of depression — or at least as a contributing factor. 

Often, serotonin-influenced depression comes with the early symptom of excess stress as well. This means that even if you’re not clinically depressed as a result of a serotonin imbalance, you may suffer from severe stress and chronic anxiety.

Several studies have led researchers to believe that brain serotonin levels are greatly affected by water intake. Some related studies were conducted with rats while others have examined how serotonin levels change in humans when varying amounts of water are consumed. As a rule, the more water consumed, the more stable serotonin levels were. 

The Amino Acid, Serotonin, Water Connection

One of the connections between water intake and serotonin levels lies in tryptophan, which is an amino acid. 

Higher levels of tryptophan have been found to increase mood, reduce irritability, and generally produce a less-stressed temperament in individuals. But tryptophan requires adequate amounts of water to be produced. 

This means that regular, daily hydration is key to keeping amino acids as tryptophan balanced and your mood lifted.

 

How to Cultivate a Healthy Hydration Habit

Building a healthy hydration habit can be as simple as making a few adjustments to your daily routine. These small changes can deliver surprising improvements in your overall health and wellbeing.

Let’s explore how to go about implementing a consistent healthy hydration habit into your life. We’ll start by discussing what your daily water intake goals should be and how to make sure you’re drinking the purest water possible.

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Recommended Daily Water Intake

Humans require more daily water than you probably assume. But when you consider that your body is made up of about 60 percent water, things become a little clearer. In order to replenish this supply and keep it replenished, we must intake quite large quantities of water on a regular basis.

Generally speaking, you’ll be hard-pressed to find strict guidelines on how much water you should drink every day. Rarely will an authority authoritatively come out and say, point-blank, that “humans need X ounces of water each day.” Certainly, there are some guidelines available, and authoritative sources aren’t averse to delivering rough recommendations. But if you’re looking for one magic number that applies to basically everyone, you’re probably out of luck. 

Still, this doesn’t mean you have to be completely in the dark when it comes to your water intake goals. The following comprises the most up-to-date and relevant scientific guidelines concerning how much water humans should be consuming on a daily basis.

 

How Much Water Should You Drink Every Day?

Many people want to know, how much water should I drink daily?

Again, the answer is not simple to find. As a rule, we often recommend (as do many doctors, nutritionists, and health resources) that individuals aim to drink half their body weight in ounces of water every day. Therefore, if you weigh 140 lbs., you should be drinking around 70 ounces (or 2 liters) of water every day. 

Of course, this doesn’t account for gender, age, height, body type, activity, level, or location in terms of climate. Therefore, if you’re looking for a more scientific recommendation, read on.

 

The CDC’s Recommendations for Daily Water Intake

Reference the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and they’ll send you to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine - Health and Medicine Division. From there, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will point you to their “Electrolytes and Water Table.”

According to this source, these are the guidelines for recommended intakes of water on a daily basis. Guidelines are according to age and gender, with added recommendations for pregnant and nursing women. 

  • Children, 1-3 years old: 1.3 liters per day
  • Children, 4-8 years old: 1.7 liters per day
  • Males, 9-13 years old: 2.4 liters per day
  • Males, 14-18 years old: 3.3 liters per day
  • Males, 19+ years old: 3.7 liters per day
  • Females, 9-13 years old: 2.1 liters per day 
  • Females, 14-18 years old: 2.3 liters per day
  • Females, 19+ years old: 2.7 liters per day
  • Pregnant Females: 3 liters per day
  • Nursing Females: 3.8 liters per day

* Note that according to this source, the intake recommendations suggested “are for total water in temperate climates. All sources can contribute to total water needs: beverages (including tea, coffee, juices, sodas, and drinking water) and moisture found in foods. Moisture in food accounts for about 20% of total water intake.”

 

Situations That Necessitate Supplementary Water

There are certain times when your body needs more water than usual. For example, if you are running a fever and your body temperature is high, you will require additional hydration to regulate your temp. 

In other situations where you are sick, you may require additional rehydration as well. For example, if a stomach bug is causing you to have bouts of diarrhea or vomiting, this will drastically lower your water levels. As a result, you may become dehydrated. 

This is a secondary complication that can actually worsen conditions (like influenza or food poisoning), which may have otherwise gotten better on their own. This is especially true in small children and the elderly, and it’s why it is imperative that these individuals continually rehydrate when they are sick.

You may also require more water if you live in a hot climate and/or during the summer months when temperatures are high. Finally, when you are physically active, it is important to rehydrate often as outlined in the section above entitled “Easier Attainment of Fitness Goals.”

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All Water Is Not Equal: How to Drink the Purest Water for Optimal Benefits

It is always recommended that you filter your water. The most we can do to avoid ingesting excess chemicals, the better. At-home filtration pitchers or tap filtration systems are great ways to ensure you’re not digesting harmful chemicals like chlorine, which is commonly found in tap water. 

Furthermore, charcoal stick water filtration systems can help you have a higher-quality water source wherever you go. Simply drop the stick in your glass or water bottle, and it will be instantly treated. 

* Note: We especially love the Santevia tumblers and alkaline filtration systems. 

 

More Tips for Cultivating a Healthy Hydration Habit

Use these additional tips to improve how much water you drink every day and to make water consumption easier and more habitual.

1. Start keeping track of your daily water intake.

Before you can set goals and successfully change habits, it is necessary to establish your health and wellness baseline. This means — without judgment — keeping track of how much water you drink every day.

We recommend keeping a notepad handy everywhere you go. As you drink, log the number of milliliters (or ounces) you consume. Make sure you have this notepad with you in your purse or briefcase, in your car, at your desk, at the dinner table, and even at your bedside at night.

Starting right away at logging your water intake is a simple way to keep track of where this habit is currently. Later, you can figure out how you can improve your intake over time. 

As a side note, for those who prefer tracking data on a mobile device such as a smartphone, we suggest the WaterMinder App. Of course, there are plenty of apps available that will help accomplish the same goal.

2. Invest in a nice quality bottle.

Having your own personal water bottle that goes everywhere you do is a great way to incorporate hydration into your everyday routine. 

Not only does your bottle serve as a constant reminder to drink, drink, drink, but it also provides you with visual cues on how much you have had to drink already. This makes tracking your intake that much easier. Of course, this means making sure you buy a water bottle with marked levels on the side. Make sure they are large and easily legible.

Water bottles come in a variety of materials, including stainless steel, glass, and plastic. If you choose a glass bottle, make sure you also have a silicone or plastic cover to avoid breakage or chips. If you choose a plastic bottle, be sure it’s a high-grade plastic that won’t leach toxic chemicals over time.

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3. Start drinking water early in the day.

Drinking several liters of water every day isn’t easy. If you don’t start within the first hour of waking up, it’s likely you won’t attain your daily goal. Therefore, as a rule, aim to start sipping water as soon as you get out of bed.

Not only does this routine give you a head start on hydration for the day, but it also kick-starts your metabolic and digestive systems. A great tip is to keep your water bottle (or a simple glass of water) at your bedside so it’s there waiting for you as soon as you wake up.

4. Keep things interesting.

Remember that your daily water intake can include fluids other than still water. Many other fluids “count” for your water intake as well. These include:

  • Various types of milk (cow, goat, nut-based, coconut, etc.)
  • Coconut water
  • Some sports drinks and juices (in moderation) 
  • Tea and coffee (in moderation)
  • Carbonated water or club soda
  • Foods, especially water-rich foods like cucumbers and melon

Additionally, try making “average water” (like water from the tap) more exciting by adding small bits of flavor. For example, try adding:

  • Cucumber slices
  • Berries frozen in ice cubes
  • Fresh herbs like basil and mint
5. When ordering an alcoholic drink, always pair it with a glass of water.

Occasionally, you may choose to drink an alcoholic beverage. Remember that alcohol is extremely dehydrating. As a result, if you choose to drink alcohol, make sure to always pair each drink you consume with a glass of water. This will help compensate for the amount of hydration you lose as you sip your beer or wine.

6. Set daily deadlines to stay on track.

To help you meet your daily water intake goals, try setting “mini deadlines” throughout the day. For example, if your ultimate goal is to consume 2 liters of water per day, break the day into rough fourths. This would mean aiming to drink about half of a liter every three hours.

7. Have patience.

Lastly, remember that like any positive habit, you won’t become a perfect, habitual water drinker overnight. Be patient with the process. Instead of chastising yourself if you don’t meet your daily goals, praise yourself for the efforts you’re putting forth. Moreover, pay attention to the healthy physical and mental effects you’ve been seeing thus far on your journey. 

*Information provided includes general guidelines only. Guidelines for unique individuals may vary. Consult your doctor.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Water and Healthy Hydration

 

What is water made of?

Water comprises two elements: Hydrogen and oxygen. There are three atoms in one molecule of water: 2 hydrogen (H) atoms and 1 oxygen (O) atom. Therefore, the chemical formula for water is H2O.

 

Do men need more water than women?

As a rule, yes. There isn't one single reason for this. Rather, there are multiple possible explanations.

First, when dehydrated even mildly, women tend to suffer worse consequences than men. For example, they will have more trouble focusing and concentrating as a result of dehydration, according to a 2010 study from The University of Connecticut.

Additionally, it's been found that women tend to sweat less during exercise than men, which results in females losing less water as a result of physical activity and, therefore, requiring less rehydration or hydration, in general. 

Finally, women start with less water than men in the first place. In other words, while men have body compositions of approximately 60% water, women's bodies are only approximately 55% water at an average state.

 

Can you ever drink too much water?

There actually is such thing as drinking too much water. It’s called hyponatremia

In some cases, hyponatremia can result from an underlying medical condition. However, the most common cause of hyponatremia is drinking an excess of water. This causes sodium levels in your blood to be unusually low. Essentially, sodium becomes completely diluted by the excess water in the system. As a result of low sodium levels, the body's cells will start to swell, which can cause a range of medical conditions, some of which may be life-threatening.

Although hyponatremia does exist, it is quite rare. The more common water consumption-related issue is, again, dehydration — or not drinking enough water, as opposed to drinking too much.

 

Does caffeine count for your daily water intake?

It may surprise you that yes, caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee do count toward your daily intake of hydration. For a long time, health experts tut-tutted at drinking these beverages in place of water, but the myth that their diuretic effects run counter to hydration has been debunked

At the same time, we would be remiss if we said that drinking a mug of coffee is exactly the same as drinking a glass of water. When it comes to overall nutrition and hydration benefits, water always wins.

 

Does soda count for your daily water intake?

Generally speaking, we advise staying away from sodas because of their lack of nutrition and high sugar content. At the same time, they can be hydrating, and some sources allow them to be included in daily water intake tallies. If you decide to do this, simply drink soda in moderation.

 

Does juice count for your daily water intake?

For the most part, yes, but beware. Not all juices are healthy for you, and it’s mostly because of their high sugar content. While juice can certainly count toward your daily water intake goal, aim to limit your juice consumption to one or two glasses at the most each day.

 

Do sports drinks count for your daily water intake?

Yes. Again, you shouldn’t consume all of your daily water via sports drinks, but it can be hydrating. Furthermore, the electrolytes included in sports drinks are good for your body as outlined above in the section on exercise.

 

“Follow the Water”

That’s what NASA says, anyway.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the most important strategy for finding life on other planets is to follow the water.It is the key to life, or as NASA calls it, the molecule of life. 

Life … cannot exist without it. That goes for other planets and ours as well.

So, let’s take this concept to its logical conclusion. Have a look at whatever’s been ailing you in your everyday life — be it consistent fatigue, joint pain, anxiety, trouble focusing — and then consider how much you focus on the habit of drinking water. 

Yes, these issues could be related to work stress, larger medical conditions, or other problems. But the law of parsimony (also known as Occam’s Razor) tells us that a more basic cause is often at the root of our woes. The principle states that “of two competing theories, the simpler explanation of an entity is to be preferred.”

Drinking more water is one of the simplest things you can do. The benefits are extensive and well-documented. Therefore, the evidence is strong that if you only took the time to invest in your habit of consuming more water on a daily basis, you would reap a long list of benefits that goes beyond even those of the best medicines money can buy.

Ready to give it a try? There’s no time like the present. Just grab a glass, and ‘say cheers’ to a long and happy life of healthy hydration.