As the summer months approach, learning optimal methods for staying hydrated is important. Most of us know that drinking water is vital, but because we lack the know-how, many of us remain dehydrated. These 9 tips are easy hydrating methods that are superior to simply using sheer willpower to force yourself to chug glasses of water.
Drinking clean water is not only essential for health, it’s a powerful solvent that can clean our bodies and renew and regenerate us at a deep level. Water is the liquid of life, not just for ourselves, but for all living things.
The astounding facts of fasting have demonstrated how vital water is. Historically, and throughout many regions of the world, people fasted on a diet of water only for up to 40 days!
Water doesn’t just keep us alive; it is essential for us to thrive. Many studies have shown that even just with mild dehydration, cognitive function is dramatically decreased. (1) I personally have found incredible differences in how I write and perform depending on how hydrated I am.
Along with this, many of the other claims about the benefits of water ring true with my own personal experiences as well as interactions with clients. My experience shows the following noticeable differences that appear when people are dehydrated:
- Irritating skin troubles: acne, dryness, chapped lips
- Digestive imbalances: gas, bloating, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea
- Brain fog, poor mental performance
- Stiffness, inflammation, and muscle spasms
(Related: 7 Reasons You Need To Drink More Water)
My mission with this particular article is to share some highly effective ways to stay hydrated. Before we dive into the tips for optimal hydration, let’s consider some of the things blocking us from doing so.
Blocks On The Road To Hydration
Although you may think drinking water and staying hydrated would be as simple as pie, the truth is, many people are struggling to do so. Studies show that 70 million Americans are struggling with digestive problems. (2) This gives us a glimpse into America’s hydration habits, as dehydration is at the root of many digestive imbalances.
Aside from water quality, caffeine, poor sleep and processed and dried foods keeping our bodies dehydrated, there is also our minds, controlling our habits behind the scenes. Our minds can play tricks on us.
More often than not, it seems we are standing in our own ways on the road to health. It is our tricky little nervous systems that wires our minds backwards. When this happens, we tend to do things we probably shouldn’t and not do the things we should; like drinking clean water.
I’ve been there many times, where in my mind, I have really good excuses not to drink my morning glass of lemon water. Though a bit ridiculous sounding, I’m sure, the funny thing is, this article has relevance.
How do we overcome our own silly habits? Well, the first step is to understand why we are doing what we do. I learned through Tony Robbins’ seminars and workbooks something he calls The Six Human Needs. If you aren’t familiar with them, you can find more about them here. However, in relation to our habits around drinking water, I’ve made a few discoveries in what blocks us from healthy hydration habits.
- The All or Nothing Approach- This mentality is rooted in our human need for certainty. Our nervous system must figure things out; it craves routine. For example, you make it a point to drink 8 glasses of water per day but if we miss one glass – out of a need for variety – we will throw the whole plan to waste. This conflict between certainty and uncertainty is going on at all times.
- Making Things Difficult- The desire to make things difficult comes from the human need for uncertainty/variety. For example, let’s go back to our plan to drink 8 glasses of water per day. People could easily become bored and find ways to sabotage their efforts just for the sake of variety. If things are too certain, our nervous systems get bored and we seek out variety.
For the mind, it is difficult to accept the simple act of drinking water. We have a lot of needs in conflict with everything we do. If our lives become too predictable and we’re not getting variety elsewhere in life, we’ll find it our eating and drinking habits. This can sabotage our efforts to stay hydrated.
Therefore, the ultimate solution for optimal drinking habits is to understand the needs of our minds and how they work, and from there, create a balanced approach to hydration that will satisfy our minds and bodies. After all, we could have the best plan in the world, but if we cannot get ourselves to follow it, it won’t do much good!
Other Things That Dehydrate
In addition to our own habits that keep us from consistently drinking quality water, there are a few other things that can hinder our attempts. If you read the article I already mentioned, you will learn the causes of dehydration in greater detail.
For now, here’s a quick overview of other things you would want to clear from your lifestyle:
- Refined sugar/salt
- Processed/refined foods (especially dehydrated and dry foods like chips and crackers)
- Lack of sleep
8 Tips For Optimal Hydration
The following tips will take into consideration the wild workings of the mind as well as tips for optimal hydration, providing a balanced approach to keeping your body watered up!
1. Drink regularly
To satisfy our need for certainty, it’s important to create a bit of routine here. The best way around this is to not create too much routine to the point that we feel bored or sentenced to a boring schedule. All we need is one simple habit.
To do this, make it a point to routinely drink water first thing in the morning. This is beneficial not only because it’s much easier to do than drink 8 glasses per day scheduled out timely. It’s also beneficial because hydrating first thing in the morning is the most effective time of the day to do so! If you didn’t drink water all day but made it a point to drink 1 liter of quality water first thing in the morning, you would do wonders in your efforts to staying hydrated.
2. Get creative
Many people fail to consume enough water because they find plain water boring. This comes from the human need of variety we spoke of before. While getting variety in other areas of your life such as planning time to travel, trying new workouts, and meeting new people are great ways to achieve this need, you can also do it with your water habits.
In fact, jazzing up your water can be an incredible way to make it more hydrating. One of the simplest ways to do this is to add fresh lemon juice and unrefined sea salt to your water. This mineralizes the water and the lemon juice makes the water cells more bioavailable.
You can also try sipping on herbal tea sweetened with stevia, raw green juice or smoothies on an empty stomach (preferably for breakfast) to increase your water intake. The natural waters in raw vegetables and berries will absorb better than regular water because of their high mineral content. Plus, to many, they taste better.
3. Drink enough
Now let’s get some basics into place. Your body requires approximately half your bodyweight in ounces of water to function properly. For example, if you weigh 100 pounds, that’s 50 ounces or the equivalent of four to five 12-ounce glasses.
This is more of a sliding scale, depending on many factors this could change. For example, if you were more physically active on a particular day, you may need more water than normal. You may also notice that with the increase of quality mineralized water and a Paleo diet comprised of water-rich vegetables and foods that you need less water. That being said, this is a nice general guide to keep in mind if you are seeking optimal hydration.
4. Track your urine
One of the simplest ways to stay up-to-date with how hydrated you are is by watching your urine. Surely, if you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, one of the first things you want to do is check your water intake.
From there, by being mindful when using the restroom, you can note how hydrated (or dehydrated) you are. If your urine is dark in pigment or yellow, you are likely dehydrated! In general, the darker your urine, the more dehydrated you are. If this is happening consistently, then definitely check with a physician.
The first step would be to get some sleep, drink quality water and ditch anything else dehydrating you. This will be a great guide for getting to understand your body and how to maintain your hydration levels more intuitively over time without a rigid routine.
5. Set a timer
Using a timer can be a helpful way to reprogram the mind for better drinking habits. To do this, simply set the timer on your phone for every hour. When it goes off, drink an 8-ounce cup of water.
You could also change things up each time — an herbal tea one time, a glass of coconut kefir another, for example. It’s important to not chug the glass but instead finish the drink slowly. Make this your 10-minute time-out to just relax and reset, then go back to work hydrated and more peaceful.
You can also try this Ayurvedic technique: sip on warm water every 10 minutes or so. Get a big Thermos or container of the best water you can get, then set a reminder to take a small sip every 10 minutes or so. The thing to remember here is that you are keeping a consistent flow of water in the body and not letting it ever go into a dehydrated state.
6. Drink water by itself
Drinking water with food can lead to poor digestion by diluting the enzyme and acid activity otherwise released while eating. This not only decreases your digestive powers but it inhibits how much water you’re absorbing. A lot of times, people who feel the need to drink water with foods are eating dried, dehydrated and overly salty foods, so the water is needed to rehydrate the foods. This is why you’ll notice incredible thirst while eating any heavily-processed food.
This is why it’s important to eat a whole food diet like a Paleo diet. Even chicken and most meat contains up to 60% water content. If you are eating real foods, you’ll be less likely to dehydrate your body. For drinking water, I find it’s best to have a glass of water 30 minutes before each meal, and then proceed to not drinking any water until at least an hour afterwards, or until I know my food is completely digested.
7. Add minerals
Adding an unrefined, raw sea salt to your water will increase its absorption big time, because you need proper mineral balance to stay hydrated. I always add Redmond’s Real Salt or Celtic Sea Salt to all the water I drink and notice the difference.
Also, once I started drinking San Pellegrino water, I couldn’t turn back. Naturally carbonated and mineralized water has been shown to hydrate better, and you can really tell the difference. You could also add liquid minerals like ConcenTrace or a blend of Humic and Fulvic minerals to your water for an extra boost.
In addition to hydrating you, added minerals in water help boost adrenal and thyroid function, giving you more natural energy. (3)
8. Ditch stimulants
In general, not consuming what dehydrates you is the first and most important step in properly hydrating. Coffee and other natural stimulants like green tea can provide many health benefits. However, you want to limit your consumption of them and balance them with plenty of hydrating liquids.
Too much caffeine can have a diuretic effect in the body, leading to dehydration. (4) If you are drinking caffeine to get an energy boost, then first just try clean, mineralized water. You may be surprised how much more energy you have by hydrating better.
(Related: 10 Things You Can Do Every Day to Slow Aging)