7 Surprising Times You Need to Drink More Water
The human body is 60 percent water, so it should be no surprise that there are many times when extra water is needed.
Especially in the summer months, dehydration can be a real danger. “Many people are not drinking enough,” says Amy Goodson, a registered dietitian in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. And that can lead to some really big problems: a parched body is sluggish, and a parched brain can’t think as well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Not getting enough water can also leave you more prone to constipation, overheating, and kidney stones. The best defense is a good offense, and that means having a hydration plan, says Goodson. To feel your best, here are seven times when you need to drink up more.
You’re hanging out at your kids’ game
You may be focused on your kids’ drinking enough water, but think about yourself, too. “Some people are really sensitive to heat and humidity, and they can overheat when simply sitting outside in the sun,” says Goodson. Just as you filled up their water bottle—and are after them (with love!) to take a sip, listen to your own advice: BYO bottle and keep it by your side. No one wants to sip warm water on a hot day, so use one that’s insulated with stainless steel (rather than plastic) to keep the contents pleasingly cold and refreshing. (Don’t miss the surprising benefits of lime water for your health.)
You’re at happy hour
“Alcohol is a dehydrator,” says Goodson. A cold beer on a hot summer day might be refreshing, but alcohol acts as a diuretic, which essentially means you’ll pee out excess body fluid. (Dehydration is one reason that too many boozy beverages practically guarantee a hangover.) While it’s recommended that women limit themselves to one alcoholic drink per day and men limit it to two, there may be times when you’re out socially and consume more than that. A good rule to follow, Goodson says, is to drink a glass of water in between every alcoholic drink when you’re out. (Find out how bad it is to drink water that’s been sitting out all night before you reach for that glass on your nightstand.)
Your body is working overtime to form the placenta and amniotic sac, maintain a higher blood volume, as well as grow and nourish a baby, a physical load that requires a lot more water than the average person, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Dehydration can cause you to overheat faster. The Office on Women’s Health recommends that pregnant women consume 10 cups of fluids per day, which includes water, juice, coffee, tea, and other beverages. Pay attention to your urine (easy to do when you’re peeing a lot anyway): It should look pale yellow or clear.
You have heart disease
While it may be important to eat healthfully by following good-for-your-ticker diets like the Mediterranean, and exercising, it’s also critical for you to drink more water, says the American Heart Association. Dehydration means you’ve lost water throughout your body, and that includes in your blood. “Thicker” blood is tougher for your heart to move around your body. Water—rather than sugary beverages like sports drinks, juice, or sodas—is best, since these options pack a lot of extra sugar, which is not good for heart health. If you need some pizazz, try lemon water, which offers a surprising range of benefits.
You’re an older adult
Ever wonder why you just don’t reach for that glass of water as readily? “As people age, sweat glands don’t produce as much sweat, which can contribute to a higher body temperature,” explains Goodson. That’s why aging adults are more at risk for dehydration and overheating. Making things worse, she says, elderly people begin to lose sensitivity to thirst so the natural cue to consume H20 isn’t as strong. What’s more, dehydration can cause confusion, seizures, or be fatal, yet most elderly individuals are not aware of these risks, according to a 2017 study in the journal Nutrition and Healthy Aging. For older adults, it’s important to keep a glass of water by your side and take small sips consistently throughout the day regardless of thirst.
You’re sick with the stomach flu
Temperature soaring? An increased body temp will cause your body to sweat out more fluids, making dehydration more likely, says Goodson. Whether it’s from a stomach bug or food poisoning, throwing up also (obviously) leads to fluid loss, but also throws off your balance of electrolytes, minerals that help the body function. “If you have a stomach virus, drink Gatorade or Pedialyte. The sodium will help drive thirst and improve your body’s ability to retain fluids,” she says.
You’re traveling to a higher altitude
One of the sneakier times you have to drink more is when you’re at a high elevation, says Goodson. Dehydration is one factor that causes altitude sickness. As the experts at the Institute for Altitude Medicine in Telluride point out, air at higher elevations is dry, your breathing rate more rapid, and this causes fluid to be lost from your lungs. The group recommends that for the first 48 hours at a higher elevation, you make sure to stay hydrated and avoid alcohol. Along with plenty of water, certain foods such as strawberries and cucumbers maximize your hydration.
- Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Get the Facts: Drinking Water and Intake.
- American Pregnancy Association: Dehydration During Pregnancy.
- Office on Women's Health: Staying Healthy and Safe.
- American Heart Association: Staying Hydrated – Staying Healthy.
- Nutrition and Healthy Aging: Hydration health literacy in the elderly.
- Institute for Altitude Medicine: Physiology