With warmer weather finally here, we are all excited to go out and about, have some fun in the sun, and get moving. As you head out the door, did you forget one very important thing? Perhaps a bottle of water?
Our bodies are composed of about 60% water, so it’s no surprise that staying hydrated is super important. But sometimes, life gets in the way, and we might not be drinking enough water as we should be. So how can you tell if you’re getting enough of the good stuff? I’ll walk you through it.
To start with, let’s understand the basics.
How much water should we be drinking every day? A general rule of thumb is to consume at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon. However, this amount can vary based on factors like your age, activity level, and climate.
“A common myth is that everyone needs to drink eight glasses of water daily, “says Allyson Brigham, a registered dietitian at Los Robles Regional Hospital in Thousand Oaks, CA. “While this can serve as a useful guideline, individual water requirements vary, and factors like age, weight, activity level, and climate should be considered when determining optimal daily water intake.”
If you’re hungry, chances are, you know it, and your co-worker who sits next to you knows it. Hunger is obvious. What’s a bit baffling is that you can be dehydrated and not even know it.
What are the sneaky signs of dehydration? Here’s how to tell it’s time to drink up:
- Thirst: This one might seem obvious, but if you’re feeling thirsty, it’s a sign that your body needs more water. In fact, by the time you feel thirsty, you may already be slightly dehydrated. So, listen to your body and take a sip when you feel that urge.
- Dark yellow urine: Keep an eye on the color of your pee. If it’s a light, pale yellow, you’re doing great! If it’s a darker yellow or amber, though, it’s time to up your water intake. Just a heads up: certain vitamins, medications, and foods can also affect your urine color, so keep that in mind as well.
- Dry mouth and bad breath: Dehydration can cause your mouth to feel dry and even lead to stinky breath. That’s because saliva production decreases when you’re dehydrated, allowing bacteria to thrive. Nobody wants that, right? So, drink up and keep your mouth feeling fresh!
- Fatigue and irritability: Feeling tired and cranky? It could be due to dehydration. When you don’t drink enough water, your body has to work harder to perform basic functions, which can leave you feeling fatigued and irritable. Remember, a well-hydrated you is a happier you!
- Dizziness and headaches: If you’re feeling lightheaded or have a nagging headache, it might be a sign that you need to drink more water. Dehydration can cause your blood volume to drop, resulting in lower blood pressure and less oxygen reaching your brain. This can lead to those pesky headaches and dizziness.
- Dry skin and lips: Dehydration can cause your skin to become dry and even a little flaky. Your lips might also feel dry and chapped. To keep your skin glowing and your lips soft, make sure you’re drinking enough water.
- Constipation: Water helps to keep things moving in your digestive system, so if you’re experiencing constipation, it could be a sign that you need more water. Staying hydrated can help prevent constipation and promote regular bowel movements.
According to Brigham, dehydration can lead to mood swings, irritability, and problems with concentration. It may also cause tiredness and hinder physical performance. And if you’re wondering if your looks can be affected, Brigham says yes. “Dehydrated skin can appear dry, flaky, and less elastic, making it more susceptible to wrinkles and irritation.”
How can you make sure you’re staying properly hydrated? Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Carry a water bottle: Invest in a reusable water bottle and take it with you wherever you go. This will make it easier to remember to drink water throughout the day. Plus, it’s good for the environment!
- Set reminders: Use your phone or smartwatch to set reminders to drink water at regular intervals throughout the day. There are even apps specifically designed for this purpose!
- Flavor your water: If you find plain water boring, try adding a splash of flavor with fresh fruits, herbs, or a few drops of natural flavoring. This can make it more enjoyable and encourage you to drink more.
- Eat water-rich foods: Incorporate fruits and vegetables with high water content into your diet, like cucumbers, watermelon, and strawberries. This will help keep you hydrated and add some variety to your water intake.
- Pay attention to your body: Listen to your body’s signals and drink water when you’re thirsty. Also, be mindful of the signs of dehydration we discussed earlier and take action accordingly.
Beat the heat
During warmer months or in hot environments, the risk of dehydration increases due to heightened sweating and evaporation, leading to more significant water loss from the body, adds Bigham. She says it’s crucial to stay well-hydrated during these periods and adjust your water intake if engaging in physical activities.
Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. By being aware of the signs of dehydration and adopting healthy hydration habits, you can ensure you’re giving your body the water it needs to thrive. So, grab your water bottle, fill it up, and start sipping! Your body will thank you.