Is your body trying to tell you it’s dehydrated? Most people have heard that the human body is primarily composed of water and that we need to drink a significant amount in order to be healthy. But most of us are missing just how important that all is!
Muscles and kidneys are composed of 73% water; blood is 83% water; lungs are 90% water and the human brain is made up of 76% water.
Water is lost daily when we breathe as well as when we urinate and sweat so it’s important we are replenishing the water we lose. A general rule of thumb in determining how much water you need to drink is to take your body weight and divide that number in half. That number would equal the number of ounces you should be drinking to maintain adequate hydration.
Most people are not drinking nearly enough. But if you are experiencing any of these 10 symptoms, then it’s time to get started, like yesterday!
1. Your Urine is Dark Yellow
This is often the first sign that you are not drinking enough water. Generally, urine should be a light yellow-amber color. When a person does not consume enough water, the kidneys excrete a “higher concentration of waste products in the urine, including dead blood cells, toxins, proteins and other products that need to be removed from the body”, resulting in darker urine.
2. Your Urine Output is Reduced
Most people urinate between 6-7 times within a 24-hour period. When you don’t drink enough water, there is less fluid available to replace the fluids being excreted from the body. The kidneys attempt to retain as much fluid as possible to prevent dehydration. If you urinate less than 6 times a day, consider your water intake and increase if necessary.
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation, and constipation can often be resolved by increasing water intake. If you are not fully hydrated, your body will try to absorb water from wherever it can, including your colon. A sufficient amount of water in the large intestine is crucial for soft, easy-to-pass stools. Naturally, a lack of water will lead to harder stools that are difficult to pass. If you are drinking adequate water, consider other causes of constipation.
4. Your skin is dry and wrinkles are more defined
Most women rely on expensive moisturizers to keep their body soft and smooth. Some pay high prices for procedures to reduce and eliminate fine lines and wrinkles. Prior to spending money, increase your water intake. Simultaneously, when your skin loses moisture, the cells shrivel, causing wrinkles to appear more defined and making the skin look older. The best way to revitalize your skin is to nourish it with water.
5. Hunger and Weight Gain
The body is so intrinsically smart but has a glitch – it does not know the difference between hunger and thirst. The hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for regulating hunger and thirst, often gets confused, causing hunger pangs in response to thirst. Reaching for a snack instead of a glass of water leads to excess caloric intake and weight gain.
6. Thirst and Dry Mouth
Believe it or not, feeling thirsty for water is a sign that you are already slightly dehydrated. A dry mouth often occurs with thirst and signifies that the mucus membranes in the body need hydration. The only way to resolve thirst and a dry mouth is to drink water throughout the day.
When you don’t drink enough water, your body will attempt to preserve and reabsorb water from all of your tissues to compensate for the lack of fluid intake. Subsequently, your brain tissue loses some of its moisture and shrinks, pulling away from the skull. Pain receptors are triggered resulting in a headache. Simultaneously, when you don’t drink enough water, blood volume drops, reducing the amount of oxygen being carried to the brain. Blood vessels in the brain dilate in response leading to swelling and inflammation, intensifying the headache.
According to a 2011 study, mild dehydration can cause fatigue, tiredness and low energy. When you’re dehydrated and the blood volume decrease, the heart has to work harder to push oxygen and nutrients through the body. Next time you start to feeling tired, skip the coffee (which is dehydrating!) and drink a glass of water instead. Coffee, tea, soda and sports drinks are not substitutes for water.
9. Joint Pain
Water acts as a lubricant to the joints, allowing two bones to slide over each other as the joint moves. When the body doesn’t receive enough water, the joint becomes nutrient deficient leading to damage of the cartilage cells. If you are chronically dehydrated, your cells will eventually reach a tipping point and the cartilage will degenerate beyond repair. If you suffer from joint pain, be mindful of your water intake and increase if necessary.
10. Weak Immune System
Dehydration increases the concentration of toxins in the blood, which can weaken the immune system. Optimal hydration is essential in assisting in the elimination of any illness byproducts and helps the immune system ward off infection.
Remember, if you want to optimize your health, know that small changes make big differences. If you make the effort to be mindful of your water intake, you can ensure you are consuming adequate amounts.
One tip for those who may be having a hard time getting all your water in is to keep a glass water bottle with you at all times…it wouldn’t hurt to consider setting an alarm to remind you to drink either. You can also add lemon or fruits to the water to help give it a little extra flavor. Either way, make these efforts and I promise, your body will thank you later!