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Are you getting enough water? You need it for those long runs and for the short walks in life. Water is pretty important. You can live longer without food than you can water. Some aren’t drinking enough water, but many are making common hydration mistakes.

The human body, depending on age, is an average of 60-70% water. You are, as they say, a cucumber with anxiety. Kids are even more water! So, they are squishy cucumbers with energy.  Water is vital for cells, muscles, brain and blood. Water is needed for many important bodily functions and supports cognitive function, impacts physical performance, and is important for weight management. (1) I see many patients with signs of dehydration in my practice.

Hydration Mistakes Impact Body

Symptoms of Dehydration:

  • lightheadedness
  • balance issues
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • lethargy
  • malaise
  • headache
  • fatigue

Many know how important water is, but a lot of people don’t know these common hydration mistakes they could be making.

Get Hydrated and Avoid These Mistakes

1-Drinking Too Much Too Fast

On a hot day after you’re working outside, biking or whatever strenuous activity, a lot of people go inside to grab a big glass of ice cold water and slam it. That’s mistake number 1! The stomach can only absorb 2- 4 ounces every half hour. A lot of people when they are hydrating drink too much water and/or too quickly. (2)

What about those people carrying around jugs of jugs of water to slam all day long. If you drink a bunch of water, it can flush right through to overload the kidneys and cause cellular swelling. The kidneys can only filter 27-33 ounces of water per hour, so you should not drink more than that in a single hour. (3)

You think you are doing a good thing by chugging lots of water to get hydrated, but you can be doing your body a disservice. Don’t make unrealistic water goals. Drink throughout the day and when you are thirsty. And make sure you aren’t making our last mistake below!

Make sure you are sipping water throughout the day to stay hydrated!

2-Slamming Ice Cold Water

It seems counterintuitive, but you want to avoid drinking super cold ice water on those hot summer days when you have been working up a sweat. Drinking ice cold water can stimulate the vagus nerve which can cause shock. This can make you pass out. Drinking cold water also constricts the blood vessels which makes it harder to hydrate. (4)

Water should be consumed at room temperature. 

3-Drinking Sugary Beverages

Lots of sports drinks are loaded with extra sugars that the body doesn’t need. The body doesn’t need high fructose corn syrup. Excess sugars can trigger hyperglycemia, which causes an increase in urination to get rid of excess sugar. This can lead to dehydration which isn’t what you want. This is why an increased urge to urinate, or “polyuria,” occurs commonly in diabetics.

Drink water to hydrate not some sugary sports drink.

4-Chugging from a Plastic BottleAvoid hydration mistakes

A great way to make sure are getting the right amount of water is to carry a container with you, so you can drink throughout the day. What’s your water bottle made of? It shouldn’t be plastic. Plastics are full of toxins and estrogen mimicking chemicals that leach into your water.  If your plastic bottle changes shape while you are drinking, it’s made from oil or polyethylene, so we want to avoid that all together.

Choose a glass or stainless-steel bottle and reuse it for a healthy you (and a healthy planet).

5-Not Balancing with Electrolytes

The biggest hydration mistake people make is not supporting water with adequate electrolyte intake. You can drink a lot of water but miss out on all the electrolytes needed for proper hydration. A lot of times we are drinking water and offsetting the osmotic balance, which is very inflammatory for the long term. That’s the salt water balance within your cells. If that’s not balanced your cells aren’t getting hydrated.

When we think of electrolytes we think of sodium chloride but there are dozens of minerals needed for us to stay hydrated. Sea salt is the best way to get those electrolytes. Find a nice, grey and grainy sea salt like Celtic Sea Salt. You want to choose a quality salt not just table salt. I talk about that more in my article on salt.

A lot of people like lemon in their water which is great.  Lemon contains calcium and potassium which are important electrolytes so that is a good addition but make sure you are also adding salt. Lemon doesn’t have all the electrolytes you need. You want to get all of the electrolytes like the ones found in unrefined salt. Adequate unrefined salt intake assists in the movement of water INTO the cell, promoting “cellular hydration.”

Add a ¼ teaspoon of sea salt to every 8 oz. of water you drink.

Avoid Hydration Mistakes and Get Hydrated

All of these hydration mistakes are simple to avoid. Support your body with adequate hydration and especially make sure you get those electrolytes. It’s the biggest mistake people make and a very important one to avoid for healthy body function! Enjoy the long runs (and the short walks) and be the most hydrated cucumber you can be.

Written by Dr. Andrew McGuire