Most of us associate dehydration with headaches, wrinkles, fatigue, and thirst. Indeed, these are just some of the possible consequences, but did you know that dehydration affects your brain as well? Our brain, just like our bodies is made up of around 73% water. If we don’t keep up with our water intake, especially in hot weather or while exercising, our thinking and cognition can suffer as well as our physical performance. As the spring months bring warmer temperatures let’s be sure to stay on top of our hydration game and get the most out of our yoga practice. Here are our top 10 tips for staying hydrated this spring:
1. AWARENESS IS KEY.
Experts recommend drinking 8 glasses of water everyday. But when? The best rule of thumb is to listen to your body. Try to tune-in and be aware of your own hydration levels. This is a surprisingly new concept for most people, but its actually quite easy. If you really look at your skin, at the whites of your eyes, at your tongue or even your hair you can get a sense of your moisture levels. Try to increase personal awareness of your hydration and adjust your intake for your own personal best results.
2. INVEST IN A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE.
Skip throwaway plastic water bottles that harm the environment. Invest in a metal carry bottle to help you track your water intake each day. If you’re mindful of keeping the bottle nearby, you’ll be much more likely to sip throughout the day. Many restaurants now offer free drinking water refills to people with carry-bottles. This initiative helps communities bond together to minimize plastic consumption. VIKASA will soon provide some nifty metal carry-bottles as a free gift for our yoga teacher training students. They can keep your water cold or your tea hot. We think they’re pretty great. If you’re not a student you will be able to purchase them at VIKASA soon.
3. INFUSE WITH FLAVOR.
Whether you prefer limes, lemons, oranges, berries, or cucumbers, infusing your water with fresh fruit can make for a refreshing and spa-like beverage, without any added artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
4. DRINK BEFORE YOU EAT.
We all can relate to that late-afternoon “must have a snack” hungry feeling. Before reaching for the nearest source of calories, drink some water! Sometimes our brains confuse thirst with hunger or tiredness, so next time the feeling strikes, hydrate before eating and your hunger “pains” just might disappear. You might not even need that nap you were craving, it might be solved with a simple sip-and-go back to action!
5. STICK WITH H2O.
Yes, juices, milk, and herbal teas can all help hydrate your body—even caffeinated drinks (in moderation) can provide you with much-needed water. However, water is what your body is really craving, so you might as well go straight to the source. Sticking with H2O will help you skip the unnecessary sugars, additives, and caffeine found in other drinks.
6. MAKE A WATER SCHEDULE.
If it feels impossible to guzzle down 64 ounces in a single day, you may want to come up with a hydrating schedule. As soon as you wake up, make it a point to drink 10 ounces of water—after a night of fasting, your body will appreciate a morning quencher. Drinking a predetermined number of ounces throughout the day (such as at meals, and before, during, and after a workout) can also keep you on track.
7. EAT YOUR WAY TO HYDRATION.
The good news is that only 70-80% of your daily hydration needs to come from water; 20-30% should actually come from food! All whole fruits and vegetables contain some amount of water, but munch on these top picks for maximum benefit:
- 97% water: Cucumbers
- 96% water: Celery
- 95% water: Tomatoes, radishes
- 93% water: Red, yellow, green bell peppers
- 92% water: Cauliflower, watermelon
- 91% water: Spinach, strawberries, broccoli
- 90% water: Grapefruit
8. PRE-HYDRATE WITH SOAKED CHIA SEEDS.
An ancient superfood that sustained the Aztec and Mayan peoples for generations, chia seeds are hydrating nutrient powerhouses. These tiny seeds are hydrophilic, meaning they absorb water (up to 12 times their weight!). When you consume water-logged chia seeds before exercise or a day in the sun, they will slowly release that water as your body digests them, keeping your system hydrated. Plus, they are a great source of Omega-3s and many other nutrients. Think of them as mini time-released water bottles!
9. GO FOR THE COCONUT.
Water that is. Coconut water is a mineral-rich liquid from the inside of young, green coconuts. Packed with potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium, coconut water can replenish lost fluids and electrolytes from exercise and hot summer temperatures. Try freezing coconut water ice cubes or pops for a refreshing, hydrating summer treat.
10. TAKE YOUR VITAMINS AND PROBIOTICS.
It’s true. Good gut health can keep you hydrated. Not only do beneficial bacteria help you absorb nutrients and electrolytes from food and drinks (which makes for more efficient hydration), but a strong microbiome can keep away any harmful microbes that can cause temporary intestinal issues, leading to dehydration. And, bonus—probiotics hydrate your skin, too! Over 100 volunteers with wrinkles and dry skin took a probiotic or placebo for 12 weeks. In addition to increased skin elasticity and wrinkle reduction, at the end of the trial the probiotic group had increased water content in both the face and the hands 3.
Water is truly the elixir of life. As you experience all the wonderful milestones of summer, remember to drink plenty of water and eat a diet rich in hydrating whole fruits and vegetables to keep you going strong all summer long. Your body (and mind) will thank you!
1. Emily Courtney at Hyperbiotics / Kempton, M. J., Ettinger, U., Foster, R., Williams, S. C., Calvert, G. A., Hampshire, A.Smith, M. S. (2010). Dehydration affects brain structure and function in healthy adolescents. Human Brain Mapping, 32(1), 71-79. 2. Lieberman, H. R. (2007). Hydration and Cognition: A Critical Review and Recommendations for Future Research. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 26(Sup5). 3. Lee, D. E., Huh, C., Ra, J., Choi, I., Jeong, J., Kim, Y. (2015). Clinical Evidence of Effects of Lactobacillus plantarum HY7714 on Skin Aging: A Randomized, Double Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, 25(12), 2160-2168.