Every living thing needs water to survive. From an insect to an elephant. Our bodies are about 60% water. Our cells, organs, every part of our bodies needs water. Your need for water is more than just survival. Being hydrated makes you feel so much better! Hydration gives you more energy, flushes out your body, and makes you overall in a healthier state.
Unfortunately, around 75% of Americans do not drink enough water.
Signs You’re Dehydrated
Thirst is one of the first signs of dehydration. Which is a good thing, because the more water you drink, the quicker you become hydrated. If you notice that you are more thirsty than usual, make a plan to drink more water. Here are some examples:
- Drink a glass of water before and after every meal
- Tell yourself to drink a water bottle before you drink a soda
- Drink a glass of water right when you wake up and right before you go to bed
How much water do you need in a day? It can depend on your lifestyle—sedentary or active—but the current recommendation is 8 glasses of water per day, rounding out around 64 ounces.
Your Urination Changes
When you are dehydrated, you won’t pee as often. It could be as little as under four times a day. You should urinate at least six times a day—even up to ten times a day, if you drink a lot of water. Your urine may also be dark and have a stronger smell. This is also a sign you need to be drinking more water! Almost clear or pale yellow is the color to shoot for. But be careful—if your urine is totally clear, you could be drinking water excessively. This means you could be flushing away needed nutrients.
A dry mouth is caused when your salivary glands do not produce enough saliva. This is another common sign of dehydration because it means your body does not have enough fluid to make saliva. If you find your mouth is dry, try sipping water constantly throughout the day (this is a good tip even when your mouth is not dry). Also, try limiting your caffeine intake. Caffeine can make the dryness worse.
Feeling a little fatigued? Dehydration could be the culprit. Dehydration can cause low energy which affects your motivation. It even causes muscle fatigue because dehydration makes your heart work harder to get oxygen to your muscles.
When you’re dehydrated, your blood pressure drops which slows blood flow to your brain. This makes you feel sleepy and fatigued.
Dehydration can cause chronic constipation. Water keeps what you eat moving through your body. Without it, things can get a little backed up. If you are suffering from constipation, rule out dehydration and drink up. As mentioned earlier, try drinking eight glasses of water a day. If the constipation continues, speak to your doctor about a stool softener.
When does dehydration happen?
Dehydration happens when you when you lose more fluids than you intake. And it can cause many problems—and can quickly become dangerous. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some of the most common causes of dehydration:
Increased urination: Certain medications can cause increased urination, such as diuretics or blood pressure medication. Frequent urination can also be a sign of diabetes.
Vomiting/diarrhea: Whether you experience one or the other or both, if you experience an episode of vomiting or diarrhea that comes on suddenly, you can quickly lose important fluids and electrolytes. It is very important to replenish your body.
Fever: A low-grade or a high-grade fever can cause dehydration. However, the typical rule of them is the higher your fever, the more dehydrated you become.
Sweating: Anytime you exercise, you need to replenish your fluids—especially you do an intense workout. The more you sweat, the more water you need! It is easy to become dehydrated during or after a hard workout.
Chronic illness: Diabetes and kidney disease are two big risk factors for diabetes. On a smaller scale, even a common cold can lead to dehydration since you are less inclined to eat or drink.
Benefits of Quality Hydration
Fiber isn’t the only thing that helps digestion. Drinking enough water keeps your digestive system running smoothly. It helps your system take the nutrients you need and dispose of waste. A healthy digestive system is a hydrated one!
It is best to drink water before a meal rather than guzzle water during a meal. If you drink water 15 minutes before a meal, it can help stimulate the digestive process.
Why does your face get red while you exercise? This is your body’s way of releasing heat. Your blood vessels expand near the surface of your skin, causing redness. However, dehydration makes it more difficult for your blood vessels to widen. The more hydrated you are, the more the vessels widen and the cooler you stay. This is especially important in warmer climates or during the summer season.
Improve Joint and Muscle Health
Water helps remove waste and supply ample nutrients to your muscles and joints. Water also helps lubricate your joints, keeping them flexible and healthy. Dehydration and muscle fatigue are connected. You will find you have stronger muscles when you are drinking plenty of water. Hydration can help reduce joint pain and increase your performance—whether training for a marathon or doing yoga.
Not only does water help cushion your joints, it protects your spinal cord!
Achieve Healthier Skin
A lack of water can make your skin dry and tight. Enough water, however, makes your skin stay elastic and healthy. Though drinking a lot of water won’t give you perfect skin, it can help reduce acne and get rid of impurities and toxins. In some studies, people have reported achieving “glowing” as opposed to dull skin.
Better Heart Health
Dehydration makes your heart work overtime. A lack of water lowers your blood volume, making it harder for your heart to get oxygen to your cells. This can especially make exercising difficult. The longer you are dehydrated, the more difficult everyday activities will be.
Proper hydration can also help lower the risk of coronary heart disease. A study found that proper hydration reduced the risk of CHD by 59% in women and 46% in men.
Hydration has also been linked to a decreased risk of stroke. In the U.S, stroke is the 5th leading cause of death. A study on hospitalized stroke patients found that dehydration was common.