I’m going to tell you something you’ve heard a million times: drinking water is great for you. And though we’ve all heard it a million times, an overwhelming number of us are still not drinking enough water. Consider this; when you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated and is seeking water immediately.
While Health Canada has no recommended daily water intake, they do note that, “Higher intakes of water are required for those who are very active or exposed to hot environments.” And while we can go a surprising time without food, water is something we can’t go without for even a few days because our body isn’t able to hold on to the excess.
According to the Dieticians of Canada, our bodies are comprised of 60 to 70 percent water, which we need to “digest food, carry nutrients, remove waste, cushion organs and maintain fluid and electrolyte balance,” they say.
I often hear patients say they don’t like water, that they’re too busy to drink it or that they’re worried about the increased trips to the washroom. Regardless of the reasons, there are simple ways to ensure your body is getting the water it needs every day. Try these three:
1. Get water from your food
When I tell my patients they’re dehydrated, they often admit to not drinking enough water. What they often don’t realize is food’s another great way to get properly hydrated that doesn’t require being a slave to the water bottle.
A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that eating foods with higher water content satisfies our appetites more than drinking a glass of water on its own or with solid food. Cucumber, celery and iceberg lettuce are all very high in water content, making them great choices for maintaining hydration.
Bottom line: Focusing on high-water fruits (like watermelon, cantaloupe and blueberries) and vegetables (think zucchini, cucumber and tomatoes) is key. Low-sodium soups and low-fat dairy products are also great options. These foods also tend to balance our hormones because high-water, high-fibre, low-calorie, low-glycemic foods limit insulin release and also stretch our stomachs. When our stomach stretches, the appetite-suppressing hormone CCK is released sending the message to our brain that we’re full.
2. Reach for the right kind of salt
When we consume salty foods (think Chinese takeout), we have the tendency to feel even thirstier.
But did you know not all salt’s made the same? In her book Water & Salt, Dr. Barbara Hendel explains that mineral salts are different than the refined, processed and bleached salts that are found in most of our foods. Last year she told journalist April McCarthy, “These mineral salts are identical to the elements of which our bodies have been built and were originally found in the primal ocean from where life originated,”
Health Canada recommends between 1,000 and 1,500 mg of sodium daily, so only a small pinch is required. Sea salt provides additional benefits such as calcium, magnesium and potassium to keep your bones strong and maintain great health.
Bottom line: I recommend a small pinch of Celtic Sea Salt with water after waking up or mid-afternoon.
3. Rely on more natural flavours
The biggest complaint people have with water is the taste. So the question is, how do we make water taste good? I recommend you avoid most pre-flavoured waters as they can be full of unwanted chemicals and sugar. This study found that the majority of flavoured water caused as much tooth erosion as orange juice. The best option is to stick with natural flavourings to perk up your taste buds.
Bottom line: Add fresh fruit and let the natural sweetness shine. Citrus peels are also a great option (as is using a straw to protect your teeth). Click here for some of our favourite flavoured water recipes.
Other great reasons to get more water every day
1. A 2010 study showed that overweight participants who drank 500 mL of water before each meal lost more weight than those who did not.
2. Just as our hormones dictate when and what we want to eat, they also control our thirst. If we are dehydrated, the stress hormone NPY increases and tells us to drink. You should also note that the sensation of thirst can often be confused for hunger. Before reaching for a snack, try having a glass of water to see if that satiates your hunger pangs.
Natasha Turner, N.D., is a naturopathic doctor and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet, The Supercharged Hormone Diet and The Carb Sensitivity Program. She’s also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique and a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show and The Marilyn Denis Show. For more wellness advice from Natasha Turner, click here.