Water is a basic necessity in order to maintain a healthy body and a clear mind. Since the human body is two third water, hydration affects almost all functions of the body – temperature control, cognitive functions, kidney function, physical performance, energy levels, gastrointestinal function, heart function, headache, skin and other chronic diseases.
If we were to ask you, whether you are hydrated right now or not, most of you would not know the correct answer to that. The general tendency to connect physiological thirst with water, is what makes us miscalculate the hydration levels. But to say how much water one should drink is a difficult thing, as it is a subjective measurement depending upon one’s lifestyle, physical activity level and energy expenditure.
Significance of water in our system
A life giver, water is the main source of transportation for nutrient, enzymes, blood, and all the other minerals in the body for everyday functions. Acting as a binding cement of the cellular membrane, water holds the cells together, and acts as a medium for all neurotransmission. When we lack water in the body, our cells tend to produce cholesterol to bind them together, leading to multiple other issues. It also lubricates the joints, moistens the tissues, skin, mouth, eyes, etc.
Dr Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, author of the book, ‘Your body’s many cries for water’, in his lecture in Washington, D.C. stated, “My introduction into science and medicine is that water regulates all functions including the function of everything that it dissolves.” He also says, “Proper intake of water, salt and minerals can prevent these illnesses and even reverse the damage already done.”
Signs you are dehydrated
Our body and brain have developed multiple ways to conserve water in the body and also signal us of lack of water by creating a feeling of thirst. Whereas this constant feeling of thirst, is an obvious sign of dehydration, some of the non-obvious signs of dehydration are:
Sweet Cravings: As complex as a human body can be, reading between the lines can be painful. Sugar cravings are generally due to stress, dehydration or emotional imbalance.
Masqueraded as sweet craving, dehydration might be the cause. Kidneys release glycogens in our body, but due to lack of water, they may not be able to act sufficiently, giving way to sugar craving. So, if you are craving too much sugar, maybe it is time to check your water intake levels.
Headaches: Headache can be a direct signal to dehydration, because when we lack water supply in the body, our brain gets affected directly resulting in headache. Here’s how: When we drink water, our body uses it to supply oxygen to different parts including the brain. But we lose water in our daily activities and when we do not sufficiently replenish it, our blood vessels dilate and less oxygen is supplied to the brain.
Color of urine: Color of urine denotes the cleansing level in the body. Lack of cleansing results in collection of toxins in our system, which are gradually discharged by way of urine and stool. Extra yellow or chardonnay color urine signifies toxins in our body, whereas light yellow or transparent urine denotes a clean and healthy body.
Bad Breath: Bad Breath can be a symptom of chronic dehydration. Buying a good tooth paste or mouth wash or mint is not the solution to countering bad breath. When we drink enough water, the bacteria in the mouth is washed away and enough saliva is produced. On the contrary lack of water, results in an increase in bacterial growth in the mouth, giving way to bad breath.
Stress and Fatigue: Chronic fatigue and chronic dehydration are cyclical in nature, one leads to another and the loop goes on. Yet again, when the water level is low in the body, the blood volume drops, and the heart has to pump harder to supply nutrients & oxygen to the body parts. Also, the muscles which works on fluid levels, are not replenished sufficiently with necessary nutrients and minerals, leading to fatigue.
Apart from these symptoms, some of the other most common symptoms of dehydration are dry skin, irritation in bowel movement, pain in joints, brain fog, immune dysfunction, gastric trouble, dull skin etc.
Your action plan
In the wake of all this information, it is highly likely that most of us are dehydrated. Your action plan needs to be strong for a quick recovery and comeback. Many experts suggest, we should drink before we feel thirsty because the feeling of thirst is the last stage of our body signaling us lack of water.
Weight to water ratio: Since the water requirement and water intake depends on one’s physical expenditure of energy, it is best to at least drink half of your body weight in ounces. So for instance if you weigh 150 lbs, you should be drinking at least 75 ounces of water. Also, do incorporate your physical activity level to consider your water intake level.
Dan Trink, a fitness expert said, “A good general recommendation for both weight training and endurance athletes (assuming they are fully hydrated before training or the competitive event) is to drink 7 to 10 oz. of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes.”
Slow drinker: As they say, hold your drink, same goes for water as well. Sitting down while drinking water, sipping slowly and in quick intervals rather chugging down a few together, will help a lot. When you drink slowly, you mix your saliva in the water, which increases digestion, reduces dehydration and speeds up weight loss as well.
Avoid dehydrating drinks: The non regulatory drinks, alcohol, beverages, etc. are diuretics in nature and dehydrates you. Dr John Mandrola mentions, “Not only is it a diuretic, which promotes fluid loss, but also, caffeine’s stimulant properties increase body temperature — a real negative in the heat.” Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol would lead to washing of fluids from the body without excretion of toxins. It is better to replace them with water, probiotic fluids, or by adding lemon or frozen fruits in the water.
Beat the stress: Like we mentioned earlier, stress and dehydration propel each other, so taking proper rest, eating on time, exercising and doing what you like would help you manage the stress levels and in turn manage the water level in the body.
Alkaline it: Our daily, modern day lifestyle, which requires high sugar, processed food, refined food, high in animal protein, medicines, alcohol etc. makes our body acidic. This affects us hydration level. Try to make it alkaline by consuming raw food like corn, olive, peaches, bell pepper, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage etc.
Water is referred as an essential nutrient because it is required in amounts that exceed the body’s ability to produce it. Keep a watch on your water intake to lead a healthy and a balanced life.