Just about all of us are familiar with the intense satisfaction of a cool drink of fresh water when you’re parched and dehydrated. And there’s a good reason why your body triggers those feelings of intense thirst when you’re dehydrated – and subsequent satisfaction when you finally quench said thirst.
Today we’re going to dive into exactly why staying hydrated is such a crucial component of your health and explore how molecules known as electrolytes can help you optimize your hydration levels. Let’s start by officially defining what it even means to be hydrated.
Hydration Defined: Why Staying Hydrated Is So Important
Hydration simply refers to the process of providing and maintaining adequate fluid levels in your body to support essential functions. While we all logically know staying hydrated is important, it can be easy to overlook just how crucial adequate water really is to just about every aspect of your health. You see, a whopping 55-60% of your body is composed of water – with every single cell in your body relying on precious H2O to function.1
Staying properly hydrated is essential for things like:2,3
- Optimal cell function: Water serves as the primary medium for transporting nutrients into cells and removing waste products and toxins from your cells.
- Body temperature regulation: Water helps regulate body temperature through sweating and evaporation.
- Lubricating joints: Your joints rely on adequate hydration to stay lubricated – reducing friction between bones and preventing joint pain and stiffness.
- Supporting organ function: Water helps maintain blood volume, aids in respiration, and supports detoxification processes – making it essential for the proper function of vital organs such as your heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver.
- Digestion and nutrient absorption: Water is crucial for digestion and nutrient absorption because it helps break down food, facilitates nutrient transport, and prevents constipation.
- Cognitive function: Without enough water, your brain can start to have difficulty functioning properly – which can impair your cognitive function, including memory, attention, and concentration.
- Healthy skin: Water helps maintain skin elasticity and hydration, promoting a healthy and radiant complexion.
- Detoxification: Hydration supports the body's natural detoxification processes by flushing out toxins and waste through urine and sweat.
- Immune function: Proper hydration supports the immune system by helping lymphatic fluid circulate and removing pathogens from the body.
Without proper hydration, your body is quite literally unable to function. So how can you best support proper hydration and ensure you’re getting plenty of water?
How To Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated might seem like a no-brainer at first right? Drinking enough water seems straightforward enough. But a whopping 75% of all adults are chronically dehydrated!4
That means simply knowing we should be drinking water, is oftentimes not enough to stay hydrated. So here are some ways you can ensure you’re getting plenty of H2O in your life:
- Set daily hydration goals: Determine the amount of water you need based on your age, weight, and activity level and set a daily hydration goal. Tracking your hydration by keeping a journal, using hydration apps to log your daily water intake, or using pre-measured water bottles can help you stay accountable and motivated if hitting your goals is a challenge.
- Drink water regularly and create hydration habits: Make it a habit to drink water throughout the day, even when you don't feel thirsty. Try to develop a routine for drinking water too, like having a glass before leaving home, during work breaks, and before bedtime. You can even set reminders using your phone alarms or smartwatch notifications to remind yourself to drink water regularly.
- Carry a water bottle: Having water readily available makes it easier to sip throughout the day, so it can be helpful to keep a reusable water bottle with you at all times – whether you're at work, school, or running errands.
- Infuse water with flavor and/or incorporate herbal teas: If plain water gets monotonous, add natural flavors like fresh fruits, cucumber, mint, or lemon to enhance the taste without added sugars or calories. Herbal teas like chamomile or peppermint can also help you stay on top of your water intake while adding a little flavor to your routine.
- Eat hydrating foods: Consuming water-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and soups can help boost your overall hydration too.
- Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol: Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages can have a diuretic effect, leading to increased fluid loss and making it harder to stay hydrated. So be sure to balance your intake of these beverages with water.
- Be mindful of different conditions: Things like physical activity, hot and humid weather, and being ill can increase your fluid needs, so it’s important to pay extra attention to hydration during these times.
- Monitor the color of your urine: Check the color of your urine to gauge your hydration level. Pale yellow or straw-colored urine indicates proper hydration, while darker urine may signal that you need more fluids.
Incorporating these simple tips can go a long way in keeping your hydration levels in tip-top shape. But there’s another powerful way you can maximize your hydration levels and support optimal well-being – by incorporating what’s known as electrolytes.
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals and compounds that carry an electric charge when dissolved in fluids – including your blood and other bodily fluids. The most common electrolytes found in the human body include:
- Sodium (Na+)
- Potassium (K+)
- Calcium (Ca2+)
- Magnesium (Mg2+)
- Chloride (Cl-)
- Bicarbonate (HCO3-)
- Phosphate (HPO42-)
So what exactly do these electrically charged particles have to do with hydration?
What Do Electrolytes Have To Do With Hydration?
When electrolytes are dissolved in water or other fluids it creates a solution that carries an electric charge – which assists in hydration in the following ways:5,6
- Fluid absorption: When you drink fluids that contain electrolytes, the presence of these charged particles helps enhance the absorption of water from your digestive tract into your bloodstream.
- Fluid retention: Because electrolytes are charged particles, they attract water and help retain it in the body's tissues – regulating fluid balance within cells and in the spaces between cells.
- Fluid distribution: Electrolytes facilitate the movement of water between different compartments in the body, such as intracellular (inside cells) and extracellular (outside cells) spaces to ensure that water is distributed where it's needed.
- Nerve function: Electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and calcium, are essential for nerve function. They help transmit electrical signals along nerve cells, allowing for communication between the brain and various parts of the body – including those involved in thirst regulation.
- Muscle function: Electrolytes are also essential for proper muscle function – with these charged particles triggering muscle contractions and relaxation.
- Acid-base balance: Electrolytes also play a role in maintaining the body's acid-base balance or pH level which is crucial for enzyme activity, metabolic processes, and overall cellular health.
So how do you go about incorporating these hydration-boosting electrolytes into your daily life?
What Is the Best Source of Electrolytes?
If you stroll down the beverage aisle in the grocery store or hop online searching for electrolytes, you’ll find countless products claiming to supercharge your hydration. But the truth is, electrolytes are not all created equally.
You see, many electrolyte supplements are loaded with sugar that can actually further dehydrate you or artificial sweeteners that have been linked to a slew of health concerns. And others may not contain the proper balance of electrolytes or contain forms that are not readily bioavailable (readily absorbed and used by your body).
Because it can be such a challenge to find high-quality electrolytes that will actually help you hydrate while still being tasty and enjoyable to drink, I decided to create my own.
Introducing Dr. Jill’s Electrolyte Essentials and Workout Essentials
Because electrolytes are essential for proper hydration and countless cellular processes, I’ve created two distinct and highly potent electrolyte blends:
- Electrolyte Essentials: This complete and balanced electrolyte formula contains a carefully calibrated blend of highly bioavailable electrolytes along with powerful antioxidants (like vitamin C, quercetin, and other citrus bioflavonoids) to help promote optimal hydration. It has a subtle but delicious natural lemon-orange flavor and gets its sweetness from small amounts of the natural herb stevia.
- Workout Essentials: This unique blend not only contains a concentrated dose of hydration-optimizing electrolytes but is also infused with a variety of natural compounds designed to help you maximize your exercise performance and recovery. It also contains PURENERGY™, a unique, patent-protected form of caffeine that gives you a more concentrated and prolonged boost of energy to really get the most out of your workouts.
You can purchase both of these top-notch electrolyte supplements through my online store. You can even get free shipping on all US orders over $250 and a 15% discount on all orders over $400.
So, How Important Is Hydration Really?
The answer to that question is – extremely important! Proper hydration is undoubtedly foundational to your health. When it comes to your health, it seems that the things that are quite easy to do (like drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated) are equally as easy not to do. But it’s these tiny “bite-sized” seemingly insignificant choices that we make throughout our days that all add up to the bigger picture of our health, happiness, performance, appearance, and more.
So being proactive and building a foundation of healthy habits to build off of is the very first and most important step in creating the vibrant health and longevity that we all deserve. If you enjoyed this article and are looking for some easy ways to build and bolster your “foundation” of health, be sure to browse through my blog, check out my YouTube channel, and browse through my online store. I’ve got loads of resources, tips, and products to help you live your best and healthiest life.
And if you want to take it even deeper, you’ve got to get in on my weekly email newsletter and grab a copy of my brand-new book Unexpected: Finding Resilience Through Functional Medicine, Science, and Faith. That way you can get access to my latest content and get your hands on the exact steps I used to transform my life from the inside out.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Do you struggle with staying hydrated? What are your favorite ways to optimize your water intake? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below!
- The Water in You: Water and the Human Body | U.S. Geological Survey (usgs.gov)
- Discover 10 Big Benefits of Staying Hydrated (ncoa.org)
- Water, Hydration and Health – PMC (nih.gov)
- Adult Dehydration – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
- Electrolyte Drinks: Beneficial or Not? – Cleveland Clinic
- What are Electrolytes? | Cedars-Sinai
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.