Hydration is critical for staying healthy and aging well. Here, fun foods to keep you hydrated, especially as you grow older.
Why We Don’t Drink Enough Water
We’ve all been told we should drink more water, but many of us still don’t get enough. Some of my patients tell me they can go a whole day without water, while others say they drink all day and their thirst is never quenched. Perhaps the most common reason folks do not get enough water is that it makes them pee—and that can often be a major inconvenience.
In Ayurveda, one of the golden rules is to never suppress your natural urges. Sadly, most Westerners suppress just about all of them, including urination, defecation, belching, flatulence, sneezing, and crying.5
We Recommend14 Natural Urges We Shouldn’t Suppress
Dehydration is Amplified as we Age
While dehydration is common among young adults, this insidious problem only gets worse with age. In a 2017 study of university students, 46.4% students were dehydrated and 59% had inadequate water intake. In this study, coffee was a contributing factor.14 And in a National Health and Nutrition study, 54% of kids and young adults between the ages of 16 and 19 were dehydrated.15 Sadly, we become more dehydrated as we age. By some accounts, up to 30% of people older than 65 who are admitted into hospitals are dehydrated.7 Why might this be? The older we get:
- The less water we drink.8,17
- The less thirsty we become, because neurons become less sensitive to dehydration signals.9,17
- The less able we are to regulate heat.10
- The less water our cells hold.10
We RecommendJohn Douillard’s Rehydration Therapy
How Much Water Do Humans Need?
Studies suggest that we need about four ounces of water to metabolize 100 calories of food. One study suggests the average adult needs need between 75 and 100 ounces of water per day.18 One rule of thumb that works for most body types is drinking about one half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. Urine color should be light, yellow, and clear. The darker the urine, the more concentrated it is, which could be a sign of dehydration.6,17
Slowly warm or room-temperature drinking water throughout the day is better than chugging it, according to Ayurveda. Flooding the body with water makes it harder for the body to absorb the water and hydrate.16
Watch your caffeine intake, too. Caffeine is a diuretic and can dehydrate you. Minimize coffee, caffeinated teas, soft drinks, and energy drinks.16
Symptoms of Dehydration
The most common signs of dehydration are dry mouth, dry tongue, fatigue, lethargy, muscle weakness, headache, lack of focus, dizziness, sunken eyes, lack of tears or sweat, low blood pressure, and a racing heart rate.6,16
Note: If any of these symptoms are persistent, please see a medical doctor immediately.
Do You Wake Up to Pee?
In a national poll of more than 1,000 women between the ages of 50 and 80, half reported having varying levels of urinary incontinence, often prompting nighttime visits to the toilet.4 In a study published in Nature, of more than 92,000 Korean men ranging in age from 19 to 103, 42% of them woke up to urinate at least once every night.3 According to clinical studies, up to 80% of the elderly have to wake up in the night to urinate.8
To avoid interrupted sleep, many men and women choose to drink less water in the evening, which contributes to dehydration and a weaker bladder. The bladder is a muscle and if we don’t use it, it will get tight, just like any other muscle in the body.
Drinking more water during the day will exercise the bladder and restore a level of youthful elasticity for retaining greater quantities of urine. Pelvic floor exercises, called Ashwini Mudra or Ayurvedic Kegels, are very important.
The Best Water is From Food
Studies suggest that we get about 30 % of our water from food.11 Research has found that the water taking from plant cells, called the fourth phase of water or EZ Water, is significantly more hydrating than plain water. According to hydration expert Gerald Pollock, PhD, author of The Fourth Phase of Water, plants put their water through a thorough purification system before it is allowed to enter cells and nourish the plant. According to Pollock’s research, cellular water from plants is structurally different than liquid water as we know it. Pollack discovered what he calls the fourth phase of water, which is a gel-like structure that is significantly more hydrating that the first three phases of water–liquid, gas, and solid (ice). Of all the plants and foods he has tested, ghee has the highest amount of the fourth phase of water.13
We RecommendWhat is the Fourth Phase of Water?
Are Your Hungry or Thirsty?
Next time you’re feeling hungry, you might actually be thirsty instead. Clinical studies have shown that people confuse thirst for hunger up to 37% of the time. Before you grab a quick snack to satiate your appetite, try drinking an 8- to 12-ounce glass of water and wait 15 minutes. If your hunger goes away, you were thirsty and possibly dehydrated.1
If you’re still hungry, then eat. But there’s no harm in having that glass of water either. Studies show that hydrating about 30 minutes before meals can improve digestion and support healthy weight.2 On the other hand, drinking lots of water with a meal can dilute stomach acids and weaken digestion. My advice: drink enough water or non-caffeinated tea with meals to create a soup-like consistency in your stomach.
19 Foods That Contain Nearly 90% Water
Make sure you’re getting plenty of the hydrating foods below in order to combat dehydration, especially if you’re an athlete or are older than 55: 12
- Cucumbers and pickles