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Hydration – What’s the Big Deal?

As the weather gets warmer and more time is spent enjoying the outdoors, staying hydrated is key, especially living at high altitude! Water is an essential part of a healthy diet, in fact, our bodies are made up of about 60% water. It maintains all functions in the body and helps keep your temperature normal. Your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, so it’s important to rehydrate throughout the day. 

Benefits of staying hydrated:

  • Keeps temperature normal
  • Lubricates and cushions joints
  • Gets rid of waste
  • Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
  • Protects organs and tissues
  • Aids digestion
  • Maintains blood pressure
How much water do you really need each day?

It may seem like a simple question, but the answer can be complicated. Like all nutrition recommendations, it depends on a variety of different factors such as; age, weight, height, activity level, and overall health. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding require more water, the same is true for athletes. Individuals with certain heart conditions and renal disease also have specific fluid needs. The standard recommendation is about 64 ounces per day. However, for the average healthy adult the National Academy of Medicine recommends:

  • Men: 3.7 liters, 13 cups, 120oz
  • Women: 2.7 liters, 9 cups, 90oz
  • Pregnant women: 3 liters, 10 cups, 100oz
  • Breastfeeding women: 3.7 liters, 13 cups, 120oz
Other sources of water

Don’t just drink your water, eat it too! While 80% of our fluid comes from beverages, 20% of your daily needs can be met with food. Here are some foods high in water content:

Lettuce: 96% water

Cucumber: 96% water

Celery: 95% water

Zucchini: 95% water

Tomatoes: 95% water

Watermelon: 91% water

Cantaloupe: 90% water

Strawberries: 91% water

Citrus: 82% water

Hydration Check

The easiest way to tell if you are hydrated is to check the color of your urine. A pale yellow color indicates you are consuming enough fluid. A dark yellow, strong-smelling urine is a sign of dehydration.

Signs of dehydration:

  • Thirst
  • Headaches
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Lack of sweat and urination

When you need more water:

  • After physical activity
  • In hot weather
  • If you are sick (fever, diarrhea, vomiting)
Level up your drink

Try these tips to increase fluid intake:

  • Carry a reusable water bottle
  • Drink from a straw
  • Level up your water – add citrus, herbs, fruit
  • Alternate morning coffee with a glass of water
  • Track your glasses of water/day – download a water tracking app

If you have trouble getting in plain water, check out this recipe framework to add some flavor without the added sugar! Add any of these ingredients to 2 quarts of water and refrigerate for 2 hours.

  • 1 lime, 1 pint raspberries
  • 4 cups watermelon, 6 sprigs mint
  • 1  lemon, 1 lime, 1 orange
  • ½  cucumber, 1 cup strawberries
  • Steep your favorite tea and pour over ice
  • Opt for sparkling water (make sure there are no added sugars)
Hydration challenge

Whatever your starting point, join us in July’s nutrition challenge to boost your hydration! Curious about your specific hydration needs? Meet with one of our nutrition experts for a 1-on-1 consultation.


About Rosalie

A registered Dietitian, Rosalie Shanks is a Lifestyle Coach for the YMCA.