Staying hydrated is absolutely critical for well-being. Proper hydration affects everything from skin appearance and health to digestion and energy. According to Medical Daily, an estimated 75 percent of all Americans are chronically dehydrated. Issues like weight gain, chronic fatigue, sleep irregularity, joint and muscle pain and disease are all affected by and can stem from chronic dehydration.

All symptoms are preventable and most long term damage is reversible if proper hydration is practiced, but that takes body awareness. Understanding what the body actually needs can be difficult because the human body is so unique and its need for water so sophisticated it will communicate the message of thirst in every way possible. Water can be found in many sources: food and other beverage cravings that may appear like hunger or sugar are really hydration cravings. Often when pangs of hunger or waves of fatigue hit, people reach for a bite to eat instead of first trying a glass of water. Also, according to the American Heart Association, paying close attention to things like urine color, amount of sweat lost and energy is important as they are all important indicators of hydration levels.

The only way to respond to one’s body’s language is to listen and respond in a variety of ways. Do hunger cravings pick up in the afternoon? Have you had any liquid since your morning coffee? Swap out a snack with a big glass of infused water or tea. Remember that each body is different, so the adage of “eight glasses of water a day” may or may not apply. Some need significantly more water to function at optimum levels and some can do with less.

It is also important to not wait until thirst sets in to drink water, because at that point the dehydration effects have already begun to set in. So start each day with a room temperature glass of water with lemon to kickstart the hydration process and assist with further detoxification. Stay prepared throughout the day by carrying a water bottle filled with plain or infused (cucumber, mint and citrus make great flavors) water. Fill up at the caf; often they serve a variety of creatively infused waters. Senior Katie Boudreau agrees that it is “a really good way to get people to drink more water, especially if they don’t like the taste of plain water.”

Drinking more water will happen naturally if it is easily available and if it is desirable. Also, making an at-home sports drink to fuel during and after exercise, instead of reaching for the artificial variety post-workout, will do even more to maintain healthy hydration levels. This issue’s Meals with Midge features an easy recipe.

 

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