Water: Whether we think about it consciously or not, it pretty much dominates all of our lives. Go just 3 to 5 days without it, and we are doomed. Over exertion in extreme heat without replacing fluids can bring that meeting with doom around in just a matter of hours. But just because we are fortunate enough to have access to clean drinking water in our western world, it doesn’t mean we are drinking enough of it. In fact, despite the well-known recommendation to drink 8 cups of 8oz a day, it turns out that a large number of us are actually walking around dehydrated to some degree most of the time.
This got us to thinking all kinds of questions… Should we be drinking coconut water all day long instead of straight water? If we are surfing, but not sweating, can we skip the extra pint? And is it true that we can drink too much water?
We knew our friends at Ezia Human Performance in Carlsbad would have all the right answers so we called on nutrition expert, Michelle Uher, to give us some pro guidelines.
Read her advice below, and remember…Drink UP!
BEWARE OF DEHYDRATION
Dehydration is more common that people realize. Acute stages of dehydration include fatigue, muscle cramping, headache and an increased heart rate. We should actually be drinking before we get thirsty.
CHECK YOUR PEE
Water is involved in circulation, digestion, absorption, healing, elimination…the list goes on. There are different recommendations about how much a person should drink each day. I’ve read 1 L/50 lbs. of a person’s bodyweight or 8, 8 oz. glasses a day. Generally speaking, I tend to stick with the recommendation of drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water per day. My approach to hydration is similar to nutrition, in that everyone has unique needs. I have general recommendations, but every person has a unique chemistry, different activity levels, etc. and the best think you can do is to be in touch with what your body is communicating to you. How are you responding when you drink water: are you urinating too frequently or infrequently? Do you get headaches? How is your energy? Besides sweating and urination, we also lose water just from breathing. Because the symptoms of drinking too little or too much water can overlap with other issues, an easy marker is paying attention to the color of your urine. Imagine a scale of clear to orange. The darker and smellier your urine, the more dehydrated you are.
MAKE FRIENDS WITH COCONUTS
The key is replenishing the electrolyte balance. The best bet is pure water with a bit of salt. I’m talking about a pinch of Himalayan or Celtic to a liter of water. We can get hydrated from fruits and veggies, but coffee, tea, sodas, fruit juice, etc. tend to lead to dehydration. Amazingly coconut water has the same electrolyte profile as our blood plasma, so coconut water is a great source of hydration, but shouldn’t necessarily replace water completely. Coconut water is a superior choice to Gatorade. I’ll have my athletes make hydration smoothies with coconut water as a base, fruit and a pinch of sea salt. Fermented drinks such as kombucha can be beneficial for rehydrating as well.
DON’T GO OVERBOARD
If your sodium and potassium balance to fluid intake is off, the cells can actually swell. Over-hydration can lead to migraines, seizures, irritability and other neurological symptoms.