“Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine.” – Slovakian Proverb
Is there a wrong way to drink water? Well, yes…and no.
There are a surprising number of factors that play into healthy hydration, including
- How much water you drink
- When/How fast you drink water
- How fast you are losing water
- If your water intake is balanced with your electrolyte intake
- And more!
And since staying healthily hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your wellness, we’re here to break it all down for you! Plus to give you a few tips on how essential oils, iTOVi, and hydration can work together!
Let’s start with the basics…
Why is Hydration So Important?
Hydration is absolutely paramount for your daily wellness!
Water nourishes your brain, skin, and all the cells and organs in your body! It helps you regulate your mood and body temperature, cushions and protects your joints and tissues, supports your immune system, and helps wash dangerous waste out of your body.
And you need to consume water regularly—because your body is constantly losing water!
With every breath you let out, every minute you sweat, and every minute your kidneys are working (which is constantly), you are losing water. Which means you are constantly inching closer to dehydration.
Dehydration can set your body up for all kinds of short-term and long-term wellness issues. And the scary truth is that 75% of Americans live in a chronic state of dehydration! This is probably because many underestimate the importance of hydration and too few people know how to recognize the signs of dehydration.
Dehydration: Symptoms and Stages
Stage 1: In the short term, dehydration will just make you thirsty, reduce your brain function, and make you feel tired. No need to panic, just follow your instincts and get a drink of water soon.
Stage 2: If dehydration continues, your blood pressure and body temperature will rise, putting extra stress on your heart. Also, mucus production will slow down hampering your immune system. At this stage, you should drink water as soon as you can. (And maybe spend a little time relaxing to make it up to your heart and support your immune system.)
Stage 3: If the stress of dehydration goes on too long, your body will start to go into emergency mode. It will stop all sweating, your skin will start to shrivel and dry up, your blood pressure will drop sharply, you will start to overheat more than ever, and you will be prone to fainting. Sit down and drink some water immediately. Give your body a few hours to recover, by sitting, sipping water regularly, and otherwise taking care of yourself. If someone faints due to dehydration, you may want to seek medical help.
Stage 4: At this point, your organs are going to start suffering damage from lack of blood flow. You may be unable to urinate or your urine will turn very dark. Seek medical help immediately. Drinking water may not be enough to save you, but emergency medical technicians will help you out with intravenous hydration.
Stage 5: Eventually, dehydration will kill you by causing either kidney or liver failure.
How long does it take to progress through the stages? It depends. Most people can die within three days of not drinking water. But intense and prolonged sweating due to physical activity or simply being in a tough environment (humid, cold, or dry) can speed up that timetable drastically, taking your time frame down from three days to mere hours or, in very extreme environments such as inside a hot car, even minutes!
Basic Hydration: How Much Water Should I Be Drinking?
Good question! The current scientific consensus is…
|Daily Water intake in: —>||Liters||Ounces||Cups (8oz)||Glasses (12 oz)|
*The amount of water you should drink in a day, of course, goes up if, for any reason, you are sweating or urinating more.
Now, does this mean you should force yourself to drink this much water if it is uncomfortable? No!
- The table above is a rough estimate.
- Every person’s body, life conditions, and environment are different.
- You are already getting a significant amount of water from your diet. Most foods contain some water, especially fruits and vegetables.
- Over-drinking water (either too much at once or too much overall) can bring on its own problems including too-frequent urination, tiredness, headaches, and fatigue.
So, how do you balance it all out? By listening to your body.
The truth is most people are chronically dehydrated because they either 1) simply don’t notice when they start to get thirsty or 2) are overloading their body with salty and diuretic foods (more on that later).
So, some tips on where to start:
- Keep water nearby—within arm’s reach. Your body will tell you when you are thirsty. And having water nearby will keep you from ignoring your body’s needs.
- If you still struggle with dehydration, start with the “one small drink per hour method”. All it takes is a little drink once an hour (a little more than a ½ cup for women or about ¾ cup for men) for the 16 hours you spend awake in a day and you should be good!
How do I know if I am drinking too much water?
How often are you urinating? Most healthy people urinate roughly every 2 hours or so. If you are urinating much more frequently than that you might want to drink less or take a look at your diet to see if you are consuming too much salt or diuretic foods. Also, feeling especially stressed can increase your urination rate.
Do you feel overly tired, nauseated, or bloated? There are lots of reasons you could feel this way. It could be an issue of too much water or not enough! You can try drinking less for a bit and see if that helps, but keep your mind open to other possible causes.
When should I be drinking water?
In a word—regularly.
Chugging your full daily quota of water all at once won’t do. You’ll be running to the bathroom every 15 minutes for the next few hours, believe us.
Try to get in a small drink every hour or two.
If you want an optimized hydration schedule, here are some pro-level tips:
- Get a drink of water first thing in the morning. This will prime your body (especially your brain and digestive system) for a healthy day.
- Make sure to get a drink about 45 minutes before and after you eat and don’t drink too much while you eat. This will help with digestion.
- Drink even more frequently (every 20 minutes or so) whenever you are exercising.
- Try to avoid drinking water in the two hours before you go to bed. You’ll sleep better that way.
The Dangers of Excessive Water Loss
It doesn’t matter if you drink enough water if your body is getting rid of it too fast!
There are three major culprits of excessive water loss:
- Exercising too much without rehydrating.Sweat is water leaving your body. And if you don’t rehydrate often enough while exercising, you are going to exercise yourself right into dehydration. Carry a water bottle with you or exercise in a place where you have access to water. And pay extra close attention to your rehydration efforts if you are exercising in a very humid, hot, or cold environment.
- Diuretics. Diuretics are foods that stimulate your kidneys, causing them to pull water and electrolytes out of your blood and into your bladder even faster than usual. So, if you consume lots of diuretic foods—you are going to pee more and get dehydrated faster, which means you will need to rehydrate more often. Common dietary diuretics include:
- Caffeine (especially in coffee, teas, and sodas)
- Lemons (including lemon juice)
- And high-water content fruits and vegetables including celery, onions, watermelon, cucumbers, etc.
- Are diuretics all bad? No! Sometimes they help your body keep things flowing, reduce blood pressure, and pass kidney stones. But too much of them will dehydrate you, especially if you don’t drink enough water to keep up with what you are losing.How do electrolytes play into hydration?
- Stress. A stressed body can sweat more and send nerve signals and hormones through your body that both increase your urine production and increase your sensitivity to your bladder’s fullness, making you pee more and more often. Take time to check in with yourself, notice how much stress you are carrying, and take time to destress. Regular personal check-ins with the iTOVi Scanner can help you monitor and respond to your body’s stress.
How do electrolytes play into hydration?
First off, what exactly are electrolytes? Electrolytes are special minerals (like sodium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium) that carry an electrical charge through your body. They come into your body through your diet. And by mixing with your bodily fluids, like your blood and intracellular fluids, electrolytes travel all over your body and make thousands of vital nerve and cellular processes possible! But for all this to work, your body has to maintain a very careful balance of fluid vs. electrolytes in your body.
If there are too many electrolytes, your body will simultaneously crave extra water to help balance out the electrolytes and expel extra water via sweat and urine to help get rid of the extra electrolytes. If there is too much fluid, your body will be less efficient in its electrolyte-related processes, crave electrolytes (especially salt), and will increase kidney activity to expel the extra water via sweat and urine to try and keep the balance.
The main problems with electrolytes are usually:
- Too much salt. Too much salt in your diet will make you thirstier than normal and likely lead to one of two problems. First, if you don’t drink enough to keep up with your salt intake, the salt will raise your blood pressure, stress your kidneys, and dehydrate you! Second, if you drink too much in order to keep up with your salt intake, you will become bloated and, once again, spike your blood pressure and stress out your kidneys! The solution is to simply keep your salt intake at healthy levels: below 2,300 mg a day. But most Americans consume too much salt and this contributes to their chronic dehydration and/or heart issues.
- Not enough of the other electrolytes. Magnesium and potassium deficiencies are particularly common. Use a nutrition-tracking app and maybe some personalized tips from your DNA to keep up a healthy electrolyte balance!
Also, we hate to say it, but—beware sugary sports drinks. Yes, they carry electrolytes but they also carry a lot of sugar. A tiny bit of sugar can help with hydration, but too much sugar dehydrates you. And most sports drinks pack way too much sugar to be beneficial overall.
Focus on getting your electrolytes from healthy food sources or sugar-free drinks (try our electrolyte drink recipe)!
Water Temperature—does it matter?
A little. Scientists have found that, most of the time, warm water will serve your body better than cool or cold water. So, break out the kettles, mugs, and tea bags! Warm water can help reduce stress, support digestion, clear congestion, burn fat, and more.
The best time to drink cool water is when you are exercising. This will help keep your body from overheating.
Essential Oils: Mix Them With Your Drinking Water?
Essential oils make our air better—and they can make our drinking water better too!
Some oils, when used properly, can be great for internal use. They can provide antioxidants, boost immunity, support digestion, and more. They can also add a touch of flavor that makes it easier and more enjoyable to stay hydrated!
But! Be very careful about using essential oils internally. Know the rules. And monitor yourself for adverse reactions! The three most important things to keep in mind are:
- Type of oil. Some oil types are NEVER safe for internal use. Double check the safety profile of any oil you think about using internally. For example, you should never ingest any kind of tea tree, eucalyptus, or pine oil.
- Purity of the oil. You should never ingest any synthetic or adulterated oil of any kind. If the company you bought your oils from does not offer proof of purity and explicitly state that its oils are safe for internal use—do not ingest it.
- Dosage and dilution. Even pure oils can be unsafe if the dosage is too high. Double-check safe dilution rates and consider using a safe-for-ingestion emulsifying agent to help you mix your oils into your water.
Also, if you are watching your hydration levels, know that certain oils such as peppermint, juniper, fennel, rosemary, citrus oils, and others can have diuretic properties.
iTOVi, Stress, & Hydration
Apart from helping you find some great personalized picks for oils to add to your water, the best thing iTOVi can do for your hydration status is help you combat stress!
Stress and poor hydration can be a vicious cycle, as both dehydration and overhydration increase bodily stress—which all too easily snowballs into mental and emotional stress. And stress, of any kind, can encourage dehydration (through extra stress on your heart and kidneys, making you sweat more, and/or distracting you from healthy hydration habits, not to mention encouraging the overconsumption of unhealthy drinks).
So how do we manage our stress to prevent dehydration? Well, first, we make sure to have healthy hydration habits. And second, we monitor and manage our stress with the help of the iTOVi Scanner!
Regularly stopping to check in with yourself with an iTOVi scan will help you become aware of stressors in your life and pick great products and activities to help you destress
It is so easy to neglect and underestimate the importance of hydration.
But, we’re glad you’re here, because upping your hydration habits will make such a huge difference in your day-to-day wellness!
So, biggest takeaways:
- Keep water nearby and sip often!
- Limit your salt intake.
- Pay attention to your body.
- Scan often
- And if you ever need a “refresher”, feel free to come back to this article and get a review on how to live a healthy hydration lifestyle!