What you need to know about drinking H2O

Proper hydration isn’t always as simple as drinking enough water.


Whether or not you are hydrated can be a bit more complex than what color your pee is and whether or not you are thirsty! Sometimes “my pee is super clear” actually means your water is running right through you – like a dry plant where the water runs right through or off the soil. Many of us are full of pride and proud because our pee is clear – so, how do you know if you’re on the right side of the clear pee?

In the treatment room – during acupuncture – we often ask questions about hydration, like:

  • “Are you thirsty?” and, “is your thirst satiable?”
  • “Do you prefer hot, cold or room temperature water?”
  • “Do you chug your water or take small sips?”
  • “Does the amount of urine you produce match the amount of fluid you take in?”
  • “How often do you have to pee?”
  • “Are you hot during the day or night?”
  • “Are you dry? – Your eyes, mouth, skin, etc.”

The answers lead us into an insightful conversation about your pee habits, sometimes your poop habits, and provide us with insights about how well you are using your water. This also helps us understand more about the overall status of your body systems in addition to other symptoms you may have like back pain, stiffness in the joints, headaches, sleep disruptions, anxiety, low energy levels, ruddy or dry skin, constipation and so on… So essentially, yes – your knee pain and your water intake may be related.

Interestingly many of us think if our pee is clear, then we are in the clear… not necessarily. Ideally people who are well hydrated will be appropriately thirsty off and on throughout the day and when they drink, taking a few sips at a time over a period of time, their thirst will feel satiated. We’re aiming for urinating 4 – 6 times a day while awake, and feeling like the amount of urine matches the amount of liquids consumed throughout the day. When urinating, we’d feel fully emptied out and not have to go again 30 minutes later, nor would we hold it like a camel for 8 hours then pee a gallon, or worse – only a few ounces. Generally urine should be a pale yellow color – not entirely clear nor dark. It will not often be cloudy. Sometimes this will vary based on medications, vitamins, coffee consumption, or with a cold/flu or other illness.

As we are not all the same, all of this that I just described is a generalization.

Here’s what I recommend to my patients who need a bit of help getting their hydration back on track – make your water act more like food so your body will absorb it:

  • Adding a pinch of sea salt (not enough to taste it!)
  • Adding a pinch of sea salt with food (citrus, berries, cucumbers, etc. anything you like)
  • Adding a cup or two of broth to your day as a drink (warm); or subbing dry foods like sandwiches for soups
  • Adding electrolytes
  • Adding minerals to your water
  • Enjoy your water room temp. or warm; cold water requires your body’s internal energy to warm it up and use it well

And, getting a sexy new water bottle helps; the aesthetic appeal or excitement of your new water bottle might make you want to use it more.

If you are a tea drinker, good for you! Just note that some teas are drying – like green tea, so you might need more H2O.

Drinking plain/flat water is still important, have at least some – like 16 oz. per day. Incorporate the “food water” the rest of the time. How much overall water do you need? Well, that depends on you. A good starting point is half your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 200 lbs., aim for 100 oz. of water and see how you feel. You may need a little less or a little more. If you are a lover of coffee and drink many cups per day, don’t count these as “fluid intake” – coffee can be drying for many people.

When your water starts working for you what you may notice is:

  • Less thirst, or satiable thirst
  • Less of the ‘it runs right through me’ phenomenon – which can take a few days or weeks to change
  • Your urine might be cloudier or darker yellow for a few days while your body adjusts, you may also notice a stronger odor during this time
  • Feeling less dry and more hydrated in general
  • Glowing skin
  • Fewer aches and pains
  • Easy poops

If you’re water isn’t working for you, book an acupuncture appointment. We can help you jump start your fluid metabolism again.


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