This March, we have celebrated Nutrition Month by sharing nutritious and delicious recipes, encouraging a healthy relationship with food, and celebrating all that our bodies can do for us when we fuel them correctly. However, an often forgotten aspect of nutrition comes not just from the food that we eat, but from the water that we drink.
Hydration is our lifeline—we need water to survive and all of our bodily functions rely on proper fluid balance. Proper hydration can give us glowy skin, strong muscles, increased energy levels, lower stress, and can prevent headaches, joint pain, and digestive issues.
Hydration can have a huge effect on mood and stress, and the simple act of drinking more water can be very impactful on mental wellness. Dehydration has been shown to result in cognitive deficits and mood disturbances, specifically increased fatigue and decreased alertness. When we are dehydrated, cortisol levels can rise which results in a stress response in the body.
Dehydration slows down many bodily functions, including digestion. The digestive system needs water to function properly, without it basic activities like swallowing can be inhibited, saliva production is decreased which causes reduced absorption and digestive movement. This can result in physical discomfort which, understandably, leads to irritability and poor mood.
After your brain and organs have had their share of the water intake, the rest of your body’s tissues are the last to get hydrated. If you aren’t drinking enough water, they simply can’t function to their full capacity. Achy joints, sore muscles, and bloated tummies can often be solved by proper hydration.
It is recommended that adult women drink 2.7L and adult men 3.7L of water daily, but this does not take into account increases needed for physical activity or heat conditions. Of course, be mindful about how quickly you increase your water intake (don’t go from drinking half a glass to four bottles a day!). Instead, calculate your water needs using a tool like this Hydration Calculator and work it into your daily routine a little at a time.
To improve overall health and mood, make water the drink of choice and maintain hydration throughout the day before thirst or dehydration signals arise. Make a promise to finish your water bottle before starting the day in order to wake up your thirst mechanism and get to the heart of your hydration all day long.