Let’s discuss hydration. It seems like a simple topic, but in reality 40-50% of adults are under hydrated or dehydrated. Simply put, we don’t drink enough water. Hey, but what about soda? Can’t we count that as keeping us well hydrated? The quick answer is no! Wait, isn’t soda mainly water? Yes it is, but with the addition of salt, sugars, and the chemical caffeine it can actually dehydrate us! It causes us to urinate more and overtime losing water leading to a water deficit or dehydration. Often we discuss hydration and the importance of during the summer months but it’s actually just as important year round.
If we are chronically dehydrated it’s harder for our immune systems to work optimally. It’s taxing to our brain function, cardiovascular system and the body in general. Your body consists of about 42 liters (44.4 quarts) of water, which accounts for between 50 percent and 70 percent of your body weight. Your blood is 85 percent water, your muscles 80 percent water, your brain 75 percent water and even your bones are 25 percent water. Your metabolism and elimination systems are influenced by your hydration as well.
When your body is dehydrated, the lack of water can manifest in surprising signs and symptoms, including:
- Bad breath: Saliva is antibacterial, but when you’re dehydrated you have decreased saliva in your mouth. This allows odor-causing bacteria to thrive.
- Sugar cravings: Thirst can disguise itself as hunger, and many people reach for a snack when they’re actually thirsty. Sugar cravings are especially common when you’re dehydrated because your liver, which releases stored glucose, requires water to do so.
- Athletic declines: If you’re in the middle of a workout, a 2 percent decrease in body weight through water loss may lead to declines in performance of up to 10 percent.
- Decreased alertness and increased fatigue:
- Chills: If you’re feeling chilled for no reason, it could be because you need to take a drink of water. When you’re dehydrated, your body limits blood flow to your skin, which can make you feel cold.
- Constipation is another consequence of not drinking enough water, as your body will actually pull water from your stool to compensate for what you’re not taking in. This, in turn, makes your stool drier, harder and difficult to pass.
So, how do you know if you’re well hydrated? The easiest way is to pay attention to your body. Studies show that the thirst mechanism is very accurate indication of our hydration status. If you’re thirsty drink some water! Another accurate way is to monitor your urine output and pay attention to the color of your urine. If it’s dark yellow drink more water if it’s clear then you’re well hydrated. How much water does it take to be well hydrated? Depends on the individual. 8 eight ounce glasses of water is a myth. How much depends on activity levels, muscle mass, medications, the condition of the cardiovascular system and kidney function. If you have concerns in any of these areas consult your physician
The type of water is important as well. Purified water with reverse osmosis technology is ideal for all house holds. To be slightly over hydrated is better than being slightly under hydrated. So drink up my friends and and pay attention to your body it will tell you when you have plenty of water on board.