Drink up, your brain is waiting. Combined with an air-conditioned environment, drinking coffee, tea, caffeinated or high sugar drinks and alcohol frequently deprives the body of its basic need: water. In a rush to eat faster, consumption of fruits and vegetable declines and dehydration results from the insufficient water after exercise, particularly in the heat.
Dehydration causes far more problems than just feeling thirsty.
Our brains call out for water all day long, but are we listening?
Remembering to drink water
There is a connection between drinking water and cognition. Even short-term memory.
You are late for work, the kids are in the van, the phone is ringing, the dinner is burning and some voice is saying, “Remember to drink more water.” So, you justify, “Well, I had some juice this morning. There’s water in the soup.” All true. Milk, broth, and some juices or bottled drinks may also count as “water”. But most people are not drinking the recommended 8 glasses a day.
- Using a measuring cup, pour exactly one 8 ounce cup of water into a regularly used glass. Take note of the fill line so that measuring each time is not necessary.
- Always leave that glass on the counter as a reminder.
- Using two small bowls or shot glasses or egg cups, put 8 pebbles, beads, popcorn kernels, or coffee beans into one container.
- After drinking the equivalent of one glass of water, move one pebble to the opposite container for visible evidence. Spill the beans back and start again the next day. Coffee, caffeinated tea, hot chocolate, and alcohol don’t count. Soft drinks and sports drinks receive no score due to high sugar content.
Of course, it’s unrealistic to learn to drink 64 ounces a day immediately; changing a habit takes at least 30 days. As well, the bladder needs to become accustomed to an additional fluid. (Be kind to yourself.) Various indicators of proper rehydration purport to be accurate, but pale urine is most often mentioned.
However, people using certain prescription medications or vitamins, particularly Vitamin B, may not have pale urine regardless of water intake or may have pale urine even when dehydrated. Pinching the skin on the upper part of the hand with a quick response of skin is said to indicate sufficient body hydration. That theory can’t take into account the change in skin elasticity in an older person.
“But I don’t like the taste”:
Municipal tap water is affected by minerals, chlorine, turbidity, and source, including the type of water treatment.
- Purchase a water filter, though for countertop Brita is the most widely known, there are at least 14 brands, others may be more appropriate. Consider the cost, the time required to fill the pitcher, and the cost and frequency of replacing the filter.
- Different brands filter more or specific impurities. The weight of a larger pitcher can be disconcerting. Systems that attach to your kitchen tap or household water system are generally more costly but could be cost-effective over time. Testing for water content can be expensive, though informative. Testing well water periodically is wise.
- Home delivery of water has become available in many locales. Savvy consumers should investigate, some companies are delivering plain tap water. In Canada bottled water is covered under the Food and Drugs act, the Consumer Packing and Labelling Act, both of which require the list of mineral content, and the CIFA the food and inspection act which tests for impurities.
- Add some flavor; try lemon, lime, cucumber, even grapefruit.
- Add frozen juice cubes. Purchase the tiny square ice cube trays and fill with 100% juice. When entirely frozen, pop out the tiny cubes to quickly store in a plastic or glass container in the freezer. One cube per glass adds a touch of taste but no concerns about mouth acidity or significant calories.
- Keep a thermos carafe of hot weak decaffeinated green tea on the counter or desk. These containers may hold 5 cups of fluid.
Can’t swing the money for a filter? Fill a glass jug and partially cover the top, set it on the counter or in the fridge overnight. The technique won’t remove contamination but the chlorine will evaporate. Room temperature or cooled is an individual choice. Either way, use a closable container to keep out dust, fridge odors and air transmitted impurities.
Simple techniques to compliment a habit of rehydration include drinking a glass of water after every cup of tea of coffee. Drink an extra glass with vitamins or medications. Most restaurants happily meet requests for water, and take advantage of office or workplace water coolers. Include water when packing for any sport or trip not forgetting hydration for young children who are dependant on adults for water provision.
Coca-Cola now sells more water in various forms than cola, and sales are predicted to climb as more consumers choose water as a healthier drink. The theories of plastic, glass or metal are part of another discussion, but wherever possible use a refillable container. Ask that wallet, is water cheaper from the tap or the bottle? Enough evidence of estrogenic chemicals, bisphenol A in particular, from the plastic warrants consideration before purchasing any sport bottle.
Some locals like Toronto, Ottawa, and Leeds University have chosen to ban sales of bottled water and other cities have discussions on the table. Though consumers pay $.05 – $.10 deposit per bottle the environmental cost of bottled water is stunning. A fact to remember while you remember to drink water.