Are you dehydrated? And everything you need to know about water: how much, the right temperature & the cleanest source

Do you ever forget to drink water?  You would think that with our easy access to it no one would ever get dehydrated but it happens...a lot!

What are the symptoms of dehydration?
Thirst (obviously)
Dry itchy skin
Muscle cramping (specifically leg cramps)
Yellow urine (hydrated urine should be close to clear)
Confusing hunger for thirst (this can begin to lead to weight gain)
Bad breath

Since our bodies are made of nearly 60% water, it's important to stay hydrated to help us move nutrients to our cells, flush out toxins, help our organs work properly, maintain proper digestion and excretion, regulate our body temperature and of course prevent and treat the above symptoms of dehydration.

How to treat dehydration:
Water is typically the best and easiest answer, but how much?

* While every person is different, 64 oz is a good goal (eight 8 oz glasses).  Or divide your body wt in half then divide that number by 8 and that's the number of 8oz glasses you need. A 120# woman needs about 7.5 glasses of water/day.
* If you exercise, are pregnant, recovering from illness, a hangover or a salty food binge, you'll want to drink a bit more.
* The water we get from coffee, tea, fruit and other drinks also counts, but I would suggest one aim for the 64oz of straight water as a general goal and count the other sources as extra credit ;)  Adding fruit to your water is a great way to make it taste better and as many claim, lemon and lime water helps to maintain an alkaline state.
* If you're the type of person who wants or needs to keep track, I love this water container as it tells you how much you're drinking (and comes with a straw and is leak proof).

So what water temperature is best?
* According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the best temperature water for hydration is between 50-72 degrees as it passes through your stomach faster and is absorbed quicker by your intestines.

* When I was trying to get pregnant with our first son, my Traditional Chinese medicine doctor suggested that I avoid refrigerator cold or iced water because cold foods disrupt the proper flow of energy and I needed to focus on warming foods that nourish Yang to promote fertility. 

*But what about drinking cold water for weight loss?  This theory is mostly a myth.  Your body does have to use energy to warm cold water to body temp, but it only uses between 1-8 calories to warm an 8 oz glass of ice water, so if you're drinking about 400-3500 glasses of water/day, you might notice one pound of weight loss per day with this method alone (as there are 3500 calories in a lb of fat), but I wouldn't leave this as your only method of achieving your healthy body weight...

 And what is the best source of water?  Is my tap water safe?
* Tap water is readily available but depending where you live and who you talk to, it can be contaminated or contain harmful chemicals like chlorine, hexavalent chromium and lead.
Nourished kitchen's guide to making sure your water is clean and what you can do about it if you know (or fear) that it's not is a great resource.
Baby Center also has a good list of resources for getting your water tested.
* Finally, this Chicago Tribune article does a good job of explaining some of the common contaminants and what you can do about them (especially helpful if you live in Chicago).
* Filtered water is a somewhat complicated topic that I won't begin to tackle in this post.  Some common questions:

  • Is bottled water best or even safe?  
  • Is your Brita doing all you need?  
  • What about the other filtration systems and how do they work/how much are they? 
  • All of these questions are answered pretty well by Wellness Mama in this post.  Dr Weil also explains his take on alkaline water here.
All this contamination talk is a little overwhelming.  We use the Everpure H-300 water filtration system and even their website didn't answer my questions completely so I emailed them.  Apparently it cleans out the chlorine, hexavalent chromium and lead but leaves the fluoride in.  

Does anyone have input on this topic or a favorite filtration system?  Other tips, tricks or thoughts?


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