Water is a very interesting nutrient. Our bodies are 50-70% water (depending on age) and every cell in our body needs H20. Humans can go quite a while without food, but only three days without water. Our body doesn’t store it the same way it stores energy (glucose) for future use. We have to constantly supply our body with water, which is why we hear this common advice:
Drink your water. Drink 8 glasses per day. Stay hydrated!
We all hear this regularly but what does it actually mean to be ‘hydrated’ and why is this important? Do I really have to drink all that water? I’ll dive into these questions and more.
After reading this article, you’ll understand why you need to drink water, how to tell if you’re getting enough, and ways to easily make sure you drink enough each day.
Reasons we need water
There are several important reasons to drink water for Hashimoto’s (and health in general).
It helps constipation
Constipation is a common symptom of Hashimoto’s. It can also happen when you start to eat “healthier” because of the increased fiber. When we eat fiber, it absorbs water in the intestines to create soft stools. But when we’re dehydrated water is pulled from stool to be used elsewhere in the body. This causes constipation with small, hard, difficult-to-pass stool.
It flushes out daily toxins
Our kidneys and liver cleanse our bodies by filtering out toxins and other waste. Water is necessary for these processes. Without enough water, the kidneys will not create enough urine to carry out the toxins. Our liver will struggle to cleanse our blood thoroughly.
It keeps electrolytes balanced
Electrolytes – magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium – are tightly controlled by the kidneys. Dehydration can cause an imbalance in these nutrients. Fatigue, mood swings, muscle weakness, dizziness, low blood pressure, and more can result.
It keeps muscles working
Our muscles are mostly water – 70-75% – so they need water to function well. Dehydration can cause tired and tight muscles; It can make exercising or even walking feel exhausting.
It helps control the ‘hunger’ cue
Cues for thirst and hunger can get confused. When dehydrated, feeling hungry can actually be your body needing water. This can lead to eating when you don’t need to.
What does it mean to be hydrated?
Stay hydrated! We’ve probably heard this often from healthcare providers, on signs at the gym, from friends. But what does it actually mean to be hydrated?
Generally, being hydrated means that your body has sufficient put water to carry out numerous functions, some I mentioned above. It can be hard to assess your hydration status, but noticing dehydration symptoms can be easier.
Symptoms of dehydration:
- Dark colored urine
- Dizziness upon standing
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle weakness
- Exercise feels exhausting
- Constipation with hard or pebbly stools
- Difficultly concentrating
- Poor memory
- Dry skin, eyes, and/or hair
- Dark colored urine
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? Many of these can be caused by Hashimoto’s alone. But lack of water can be making them worse, or be the cause of the symptom. The best way to tell is to drink more water for a few days and see how you feel!
How much water should I drink?
The general rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces, per day. For example, a 150lb person should aim for 75 ounces of water.
How much water is too much? It’s important to note – do not exceed 100 ounces of water per day at any weight. This can cause overhydration and electrolyte imbalances.
If this sounds like a huge task (75 ounces is a lot!), don’t worry! Hydration does not only come from drinking plain water. Other ways to stay hydrated are:
- Herbal tea (try mint, chamomile, hibiscus, etc.)
- Broth based soup
- Watery fresh fruit and vegetables
- Coconut water
Drinking pure water is important for easy absorption, but you can mix it up with those other options throughout the day.
If you are not near your suggested amount of water, start increasing slowly. Have an extra cup of water for the first week. Then increase another cup if needed for the next week. Increasing a large amount of water at once will make it difficult for your body to absorb, so you’ll be running to the bathroom constantly!
Ways to increase your water
It is easy to ‘forget’ to drink water throughout the day. Whether you’re busy or it’s cold out so you don’t feel thirsty, forgetting to drink water is common. Here are several ideas to help you remember to hydrate.
Carry a reusable water bottle. Holding it or having it with you can be a good reminder to drink more, and it is a good way to gauge how much you’ve had. Make sure to stick to stainless steel bottles to avoid the potential endocrine disrupters in plastic – an important consideration, especially for Hashimoto’s! I really like these.
Water app. Using an app can be helpful as a way to start the water drinking habit. It will make a noise at a preset interval to remind you to drink water. For example, every 45 minutes it will *ding* to tell you to take a sip. It can be annoying (!) but helpful for a few weeks to set the habit.
Make yourself fancy water. Having a fun drink might make sipping away more enjoyable. Fruit waters are refreshing and easy to make. It can be as simple as squeezing 1/2 to a whole lemon in your water bottle, or as fun as these!
Have tea time. Make an afternoon tea ritual where you can relax and enjoy a tea and snack for 15 minutes. This is a great way to hydrate and add in some self-care / relaxation time. Try adaptogenic tulsi tea.
Eat hydrating fruit or vegetables as a snack. Eating water-rich fruit and vegetables will help you increase hydration. Try watermelon, oranges, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, strawberries, melons, peaches, lettuces (great for sandwich wraps!). Or, make your own (sugar-free) sorbet which would be great for hot days!
However, you choose to get your water doesn’t matter as long as you get it! Keeping your body well hydrated is a foundational health habit. It can resolve many common complaints (fatigue, constipation, muscle weakness). And, it will make all of your other health and self-care efforts ‘work’ better.