Sure, we all KNOW how important it is to stay hydrated.

But in the midst of the busyness of our lives – especially this time of year – it is easy to forget to stop and drink water regularly. I know I have been struggling with this! Unless we notice serious signs of dehydration, it is easy to overlook that bit of fuzzy-headedness, grumpiness, or a headache and assume they are due to something else like nutrition. Of course, there could be multiple causes but one of the easiest ways to get rid of some of these symptoms could be as easy as drinking more water.

Did you know that even mild dehydration can contribute to disease formation and cognitive issues? More research is needed, but studies seem to show that the more hydrated our bodies are, the better they are able to function optimally. When you consider that our bodies are made up of about 65- 70% water, it just makes sense!

The most common recommendation for getting enough water is the 8x8 rule (drinking eight 8 oz. glasses per day) but this isn’t actually scientifically backed. Because everybody is different, each person’s needs will differ. While following the 8x8 may be a good general guideline, there are some other things to consider.

  • How often are you thirsty? For a healthy person, it can be a good rule to drink if you are thirsty. However, if you deal with certain health issues or are chronically slightly dehydrated, your thirst signals could be off.

  • What is the color/clarity/frequency of your urine? Ideally, it should be a clear, light yellow color with fairly regular frequency of 5-8 times throughout the day.

  • How much water are you getting in your food? Depending on your diet, you can actually get up to 20% of your daily water intake through your food (fruits and veggies tend to contain a lot of water!)

  • What else are you drinking? While some say that coffee and tea does not count towards daily water intake, others contend that they do contribute. This is especially true of herbal teas.

  • Are your electrolytes staying balanced? Adding high-quality mineral salt or a clean electrolyte mix to your water can make sure that you have the right balance of sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, and magnesium needed by your body. This is more of a concern if you are engaging in higher intensity exercise on a regular basis, follow the keto diet, or do intermittent fasting.

Tips for increasing your water intake:

  • Always have water with you available to drink and try to take regular sips.

  • Add fresh lemon, cucumber, mint, or anything else that sounds good to enhance the flavor.

  • Brew some herbal tea – not only will you get the added water, but you will also get the benefit of the herbs!

  • Coconut water is a refreshing way to get rehydrated and it contains electrolytes.

  • Choose foods that are higher in water content like cucumbers, melons, leafy greens, and tomatoes. (Google for a complete list – you may be surprised!)

I believe that just like everything else, hydration goes back to body awareness. You need to be able to tap in and read your body. Stop for a second and see if you can tell what it needs right now. What signals does it give when you are thirsty? Does it let you know when you’ve had enough? How do you feel on a day when you know you’ve gotten adequate hydration versus those days when all you had to drink was coffee?

Then if you recognize that you could be supporting your body better, how can you adjust to give it what it needs? What one small change can you make today that will make a difference for the coming days and for your future health?

After all, small steps are how our lives are changed.