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The Secrets to Staying Hydrated

Woman with short hair drinks from a reusable waterbottle as she enjoys the views of the lake around her.
Photo by Maria Di Lorenzo on Unsplash

Drink water. Stay hydrated. Our parents have been reminding us since we were children that water is good for our health. But rarely do Americans heed this advice. Most of us suffer from chronic dehydration, which can cause afternoon fogginess and fatigue as well as longer term conditions like kidney failure.

Instead, we’ve replaced water with juice, coffee, teas and even worse for your body, soda. These fluids can actually be dehydrating, so nothing is as good for your system as pure filtered water. As a functional medicine health coach, one of the first things I discuss with my clients is how much water are they drinking and how are they consuming it.

I’ve recently shared how water can help eliminate food cravings by helping you feel more full. But my clients often wonder, what’s the best way to drink water?

Sip, don’t gulp.

Our bodies can absorb only so much water at once, so there is value in slowly sipping your water over a longer period of time verse taking the camel approach and gulping your whole glass at once.

If you’re struggling to sip, try a different cup or water bottle style. You may find a cup with a straw encourages you to sip more frequently than just a standard cup.

If you try the straw method and that’s not working. The most important thing is that you’re consuming your water. Some people may find that the sipping approach leads them to forget to drink their water altogether. You take a sip and set the cup down and just never remember to come back to it. If the "sipping" approach isn’t working for you, I give you permission to gulp. Any approach - including gulping - is better than none!

Warm water is more readily absorbed

Room temperature and warm water is more readily absorbed into your body, and therefore more effective at hydrating you. So most of the time I recommend skipping the ice and learning to love tepid water.

However, drinking ice cold water can be a bit of an "energy boost,” especially mid-afternoon, when you really need it. It can kick the metabolism in gear to warm the body after the large injection of cold fluid and, similarly, jolt someone out of brain fog or poor concentration, especially while working.

Lemon in your water has added benefits

The body does process lemon water differently than the straight absorption from pure water. However, most people can really benefit from the alkalizing effects of the lemon (as well as the electrolytes we will absorb from the lemon).

The average American diet is very metabolically acidic. Generally we struggle to get good electrolytes from our drinking water because it has been municipally treated. Lemon is alkalizing and adds electrolytes which, in the end, enhance hydration and fluid *balance* in the body.

Skip the sparkling water

In New England, seltzer water is all the rage. It feels positively anti-New England to recommend this, but the truth is water with bubbles can interfere with your body’s calcium absorption. Therefore, it’s not the healthiest choice, especially for women who are menopausal or post-menopausal.

Sparkling water has Co2 which has more acidity. Plain water will help you maintain a better pH balance in your body.

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