We can’t live without it—After just 3 days without it, most of us would be dead.
Yet, shockingly, according to many studies, 75% of adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic dehydration, even though 82% of Americans agree they should drink more water, with 90 percent believing that bottled water is a healthy and convenient beverage.
That’s right—I’m talking about water, the liquid that we can’t survive without but still simultaneously remains forgotten and “deserted.”
The ugly truth is that most of us are not getting enough water, but this issue becomes even more concerning for seniors, a demographic that is already more prone to the dangers of dehydration.
In fact, studies have even shown that a senior patient’s mortality rate can increase or decrease according to their level of dehydration.
Some of the complications that can spur from dehydration include headaches, lightheadedness, decreased skin elasticity, dry mouth and mucous membranes, constipation, and sleepiness.
More severe complications caused by chronic dehydration include seizures, low blood pressure, swelling of the brain, kidney stones, kidney failure, heatstroke, coma, shock, and even death.
If you would like to avoid suffering the symptoms of the 75 % of chronically dehydrated Americans, read on to learn how to stay healthy and hydrated, no matter what age you are.
How to Drink More Water—Hone a Hydration Habit
1. Locale Liquids—Always Keep a Water Bottle Nearby
Have you ever heard of the saying “out of sight out of mind?” Well, this applies to water too, which is why it is so easy for most of us to forget to replenish our water levels.
Placing a water bottle in front of you serves as a visual cue to drink water—It can act as a reminder to take sips regularly, especially if you tend to get engrossed in tasks and forget to hydrate.
When you have a water bottle within arm's reach, you're much more likely to drink water because it's readily available. This eliminates the need to get up and go to a water source, eliminating excuses and making it convenient to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Furthermore, having a portable water bottle allows you to gulp on the go, whether it's to work, school, or running errands. This constant access encourages you to sip water throughout the day, maintaining a consistent hydration level.
Keeping a water bottle nearby also establishes a habit of reaching for it whenever you're thirsty, rather than reaching for the convenient can of Coke.
Over time, this habit can eventually become automatic, making it even easier to stay hydrated without much conscious effort.
2. Rehydrate Routinely—Schedule Water Breaks
Much like conveniently placing a water bottle in front of your face as a visual reminder, setting a specific water break schedule can also serve as a helpful way to stay hydrated, especially if you tend to be forgetful or easily get distracted or caught up in your work.
Having scheduled water breaks brings attention to your hydration needs. It serves as a strict reminder to pause and hydrate, especially when you may not feel thirsty or may overlook drinking water due to distractions. These scheduled reminders can help you stay mindful of your water intake throughout the entirety of the day.
These regularly spaced water breaks also ensure that you drink water consistently, rather than trying to compensate for dehydration in one large intake later on when you’re already dehydrated. It helps maintain a more steady and balanced hydration level, rather than sporadically chugging down the H2O you are lacking.
Remember that staying hydrated is essential for optimal physical and cognitive performance. By scheduling water breaks, you provide your body and mind with the necessary hydration to function at their best. This can even help improve your focus, energy levels, and overall productivity.
3. Shriveling Symptoms—Know the Side Effects of All Your Medications
Some medications can possess side effects that increase the probability of being parched, so it is important to be aware of all of your medications, as well as the impact that they have on your body so that you can better monitor your fluid levels.
For example, different medications can cause the following side effects, which can contribute to fluid loss and ultimately dehydration:
Some medications, such as diuretics (water pills), are specifically designed to increase urine production. Diuretics help eliminate excess fluid from the body, which can be beneficial for certain conditions like high blood pressure or edema. However, on the other side of the coin, they can also lead to increased water loss and dehydration, if not balanced with adequate fluid intake.
Certain medications, such as those used to treat fevers, infections, or chronic conditions like diabetes, can cause excessive sweating as a side effect. Sweating can lead to fluid loss and dehydration if the lost fluids are not replenished.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Some medications, particularly antibiotics, can irritate the stomach or disrupt the gut flora, leading to side effects like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These gastrointestinal symptoms can result in significant fluid loss and dehydration if fluids are not replaced promptly.
Certain medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and certain antipsychotics, can cause dry mouth (xerostomia) as a side effect. This can reduce saliva production, leading to a decreased natural moistening of the mouth, as well as potential decreased fluid intake.
Specific medications, such as stimulants or thyroid medications, can increase metabolic rate. This increased metabolism can result in higher body temperature and increased water loss through sweating.
Reduced Thirst Sensation
Some medications, especially those that affect the central nervous system or certain psychiatric medications, can interfere with the body's natural thirst signals. This can result in decreased awareness of the need to drink water, leading to inadequate fluid intake and potential dehydration.
If any of your medications cause these side effects, you should make an effort to drink even more water than recommended for the average person, as you may become dehydrated faster than a person who is not using these medications.
4. Find Fluids from Food—Consume Foods and Liquids that Contain Water
Sometimes it can feel near impossible to guzzle down the recommended amount of water for your body—but remember that water can be found in sneaky sources that you may not even realize are quenching your thirst. Some examples of these foods and liquids providing fluids include:
Many fruits have high water content, making them refreshing and hydrating options. Watermelon, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, and pineapples are excellent choices.
Certain vegetables are known for their high water content. Cucumber, lettuce, celery, zucchini, radishes, and tomatoes are hydrating options that can be enjoyed in salads, soups, or as snacks.
Soups and Broths
Soups and broths, especially those made with vegetable or chicken stock, are not only comforting but also provide hydration due to their liquid content.
Smoothies and Juices
Homemade smoothies and freshly squeezed juices can be hydrating, especially if they contain water-rich fruits like berries, citrus fruits, and melons. However, it's important to consume them in moderation, as they can also contain natural sugars.
Herbal teas, such as chamomile, peppermint, or hibiscus tea, can be hydrating options without the caffeine found in traditional teas.
Coconut water is a natural and hydrating beverage that contains electrolytes and minerals, making it a popular choice for replenishing fluids.
Yogurt has a high water content and can contribute to hydration. Greek yogurt and kefir, in particular, can be hydrating due to their thicker consistency and higher water content.
Gelatin-based foods like gelatin desserts or homemade gelatin snacks can provide hydration due to their water content.
If you are struggling to get the proper water intake solely from sloshing down bottle upon bottle of water, incorporating these foods and liquids into your diet can aid you in accomplishing your hydration goals.
Remember that while these foods and liquids contribute to your hydration, they shouldn't replace the importance of drinking plain water. Consuming a variety of hydrating foods and fluids in combination with adequate water intake can help maintain proper hydration levels throughout the day.
5. Pass on Pouring Parching Potions—Avoid Dehydrating Drinks
While the definition of the word beverage is “a drinkable liquid,” remember that all liquids are not created equal.
In fact, some liquids, such as the following, can actually act as a partner in crime to dehydration:
Caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and energy drinks have diuretic properties, which can increase urine production and potentially contribute to dehydration.
Alcohol is dehydrating, as it acts as a diuretic, increasing urine production.
Drinks high in sugar, such as soda, fruit juices, sports drinks, and some flavored waters, can contribute to dehydration indirectly. High sugar content can cause an osmotic diuretic effect, pulling water from body tissues into the digestive system to dilute the sugar concentration. This can lead to increased urine production and potential dehydration.
Beverages that are high in salt, such as certain sports drinks or certain types of broth, can contribute to dehydration. Excess salt intake increases thirst and may lead to increased urine production if not balanced with sufficient water intake.
It’s okay to drink these beverages in moderation—However, when you do, make sure that you are drinking even more water to counteract their draining effects and stay hydrated.
6. Switch Up Your Sips—Find Ways to Spice Up Your Water
We get it—Water, while necessary for the overall health of our bodies, can often taste bland and become boring and repetitive.
However, not to worry. There are ways for you to stay hydrated without torturing your taste buds, simultaneously fulfilling the flavors that you are craving.
Here are some ways to spice up your water:
Infuse with Fruits
Add slices of your favorite fruits, such as citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange), berries (strawberries, raspberries), or cucumber, to your water. Let the flavors infuse for a while before drinking. You can also try combinations like lemon and mint or watermelon and basil for a refreshing twist.
Experiment with herbs like mint, basil, rosemary, or lavender. Crush the herbs slightly to release their natural oils and flavors. Then, add them to your water. This can create a subtle, aromatic taste.
Grate the zest (outer colored part) of citrus fruits like lemon, lime, or orange into your water. It adds a burst of flavor without the acidity of the fruit juice.
Drop a cinnamon stick into your water bottle or pitcher. It adds a warm and slightly sweet flavor to your drink.
Brew an herbal tea of your choice such as chamomile, peppermint, or hibiscus and let it cool. Add the tea to your water for a flavorful and caffeine-free option.
Mix coconut water with regular water for a tropical twist. It not only adds flavor but also provides additional electrolytes.
Aloe Vera Juice
Add a splash of aloe vera juice to your water for subtle sweetness and potential health benefits. Make sure to use aloe vera juice that is specifically meant for consumption.
If you prefer carbonated drinks, opt for sparkling water instead. This is a good option for people who crave the carbonation found in beverages such as soda. You can find flavored sparkling water in stores, or, if you want to get even more creative, you can add a squeeze of your own citrus juice to plain sparkling water.
Remember that staying healthy and hydrated doesn’t have to be boring or burdensome.
You can find fun ways to get creative, challenge yourself, and ultimately take care of yourself, improving your overall well-being and experiencing more happiness in your life.