Do you drink enough water? Many people underestimate the importance of hydration so if you have any of the following tell-tale signs, you’ll want to increase your intake of water.
Of all of the nutrients you consume every day, water could be considered the most important because without it, the body cannot absorb, or properly utilize, other nutrients.
In proper amounts, water is the most abundant nutrient and it is critical to the functioning of all the body’s systems.
Breathing, sweating, and waste elimination are three normal ways your body loses water. When you’re sick, vomiting and diarrhea can lead to rapid dehydration.
The effects of dehydration on the brain
A 2% drop in hydration can literally cause shrinkage of the brain – and the results are not good:
- Decreased concentration and focus.
- Sluggish thinking and a feeling of mental fog.
The effects of dehydration on the cardiovascular and muscular systems
Physically, the effects of dehydration can be quite severe. As with the brain, just a 2% drop in proper water levels can lead to sudden and unpleasant effects:
- Decreased muscular coordination and response: reaction times, precision, and balance are all affected.
- Fatigue, leading to poor endurance.
- Dramatic loss of strength.
- Muscle cramping due to electrolyte and mineral imbalance.
- Poor recovery from exercise.
- Thin, papery, “crepey” skin.
- Joint pain (water is needed to lubricate joints).
- Thickening of the blood, resulting in added workload for the heart (if you’ve ever had an abnormally high pulse, it could be attributed to something as simple as de hydration and the resulting extra pumping that the heart has to do!)
- Poor immune functioning: the lymphatic fluid (the stuff surrounding your organs, outside of the cardiovascular system) is the “carrier” for the substances your body uses to fight off infection and heal the body.
The quickest way to determine if you’re dehydrated: you feel tired, sluggish, lightheaded, confused, uncoordinated, and you produce very little urine (and when you do, the urine is dark).
Researchers estimate that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated – which is ironic since people in so many parts of the world don’t have access to clean drinking water!
Is Poor Hydration Causing MUCH MORE Than Digestion, Weight Gain And Other Such Health Problems?
The digestive system is severely impacted by dehydration. Without water, the body can’t dissolve and absorb vital nutrients, and waste removal is compromised. As Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut” – so keeping your intestinal flora happy through proper hydration, will go a long way to keeping your digestive system (and as a result, all of your organs) happy and functioning optimally.
There’s a very strong correlation between weight gain and dehydration, too. Something to consider for you if you’ve been struggling with excess weight and diets don’t seem to be doing the trick!
Your body’s hunger and thirst signals are virtually identical and so many people mistake thirst for hunger; instead of reaching for water, people reach for a snack.
They feel temporarily better, but then the body asks again for water… and again it gets food… which as you can guess, can lead to unwanted weight gain!
If you’re trying to lose weight, drink a glass of water before meals and anytime you feel hungry – then wait 15 minutes and if you’re still hungry, go ahead and eat. But, chances are, you were just thirsty and this is a great way to eliminate excess calories!
Prevention is Best
You may sometimes notice that you’re hydration levels are low towards the end of the day – and while playing catch-up helps a little, the problem is that the body can only absorb about one glass (8 oz or 240 ml) of water per hour – everything else is lost to urine.
The better approach is to be mindful, and to stay hydrated throughout the day (keeping in mind extra water if you’re exercising, sick, or if it’s hot outside). The average person’s recommended daily intake of water is 6-8 8-oz/240-ml glasses of water – but consult your doctor for the best amount for you, depending on your age, weight, activity level, health and other factors.
Also, be mindful of what you are drinking: coffee, tea, beer, soda, juice and energy drinks can be part of your daily water intake, but be very careful as you may upset your body’s balance with too much caffeine, sugar, or alcohol.
Certain foods are high in water, so seek those out if you have the urge to snack: oranges, grapes, and tomatoes make great nutritious snacks.
Tips for staying hydrated
Spritz it up! Add a squeeze of lemon or lime to still or sparkling water, for a truly healthy and refreshing drink that helps you cleanse your body while keeping you hydrated. You can also fill a pitcher with fresh fruit, and infuse the flavors into your water. If it’s delicious, you’re likely to drink more!
Keep it handy. If it’s too much bother to go make yourself a drink, you may not do it – so keep a bottle or glass of water at your work space, right in your line of sight, so you are reminded to drink often. Out of sight is out of mind!
Drink a full glass of water with lemon first thing in the morning to jump-start your metabolism and start the day off fresh, invigorated and you’ll feel less need to have coffee to get started!
Enjoy the mental clarity, energy, youthful appearance and optimal physical functioning that water gives you – and remember to be grateful for its many wonderful effects!