We know we need it, yet we fail to make it a priority. From digestion and circulation to the production of saliva and transportation of nutrients throughout the body, water does it all. But, despite 50 to 70 per cent of our bodies being made up of water, we tend to lose loads of it daily through perspiration, urine, bowel movements and even normal breathing. Which is why, it’s important to ensure that the vital store of water is replenished at regular intervals. The good news is that when we are dehydrated, our bodies send out clear warning signs to remind us that we need to check our water intake. Scroll on to find out if it’s time to refill that bottle.
It is natural for energy levels to drop mid-day – an afternoon slump is the hallmark of a sedentary lifestyle after all. But if you find yourself low on energy often despite catching enough zzz’s, blame it on dehydration. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that “mild dehydration produces alterations in a number of important aspects of cognitive function such as concentration, alertness and short-term memory.” The study also pointed out that mild to moderate levels of dehydration can impair physical performance.
Water is required to keep your digestive system functioning properly as it lubricates the insides of the stomach. Not drinking enough water can lead to heartburn, indigestion and stomach ulcers, according to the Mayo Clinic. A study published on NCBI states, “Inadequate fluid consumption is touted as a common culprit in constipation. Increasing fluid intake is a recommended treatment.”
Infrequent Trips to the BathroomIf you’re not taking enough trips to the restroom, at least 4 to 7 times a day, chances are you’re not drinking enough water. Lovneet Batra, a Delhi-based nutritionist says, “The colour of urine is probably the most visible sign and common indicator of whether you're properly hydrated.” Ideally, your urine should be light yellow or clear. If it’s a darker yellow, head to the nearest water cooler stat. Be warned, in extreme cases, dehydration can also lead to urinary tract infections, something which can easily be prevented, provided you’re keeping yourself hydrated.
Constant Mood Swings
Frequent and unprovoked mood changes are no joke. The study published by NCBI states, “Water, or its lack (dehydration), can influence cognition. Mild levels of dehydration can produce disruptions in mood and cognitive functioning.” Besides, when your body is dehydrated, you also tend to get a mild headache which could further leave you irritated and cranky. Instead of popping a pill, try drinking some water to keep the headache at bay.
Dry Eyes, Mouth and Skin
A study published by NCBI in 2015 states, “Water is a large component of the human body and plays a key role in normal physiological balance.” Irrespective of the change in season and temperature, if your skin stays dry despite being slathered with moisturising lotions, you may want to grab a glass of water. Dry eyes are another sign that your body is dehydrated. Several studies show that when your overall fluid levels drop, it can lead to dry, bloodshot eyes. Moreover, when the body lacks water, the mouth tends to dry up, which, in turn, also leads to bad breath. The next time you notice any of these symptoms, you should simply refuel.
An article published on frontrangeorthopedics.com states that, “The most easily corrected cause of hip pain, dehydration can be the root of stiffness and pain in joints.” Our spinal discs and cartilages comprise 80 per cent water which prevents our bones and joints from grinding against one another. However, the article states, “Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks are diuretics, causing drinkers to eliminate more fluids than usual, causing dehydration even in patients who drink adequate water.” Frequent pain in the joints can be a sign that your body needs more water. By keeping your body hydrated, you ensure that your joints can absorb the shock of sudden movements, such as running, jumping, or falling awkwardly.
We’ve all had those days where we could eat a horse. But, if you always feel the same for no obvious reason, it could be thirst that’s causing those gurgling stomach noises and not actual hunger. Health.com states that when you’re dehydrated, the body tends to send mixed signals to the brain, making you think you are hungry when what you really need is some water. Basically, it's a brain snag that will leave you craving for something salty or sugary instead of some H2O.
Ways to Up Your H20 LevelsWhile eight to ten glasses of water is the recommended intake, the adequate amount of water intake differs from person to person. Read more here. While most of us manage to score enough water during the summer months, it is during winter and monsoon when the water glass counts tend to go down. Due to the drop in temperature, we don’t feel thirsty or think we don’t need water. However, irrespective of the temperature, our bodies require water for proper functioning. On days when it can be difficult to put up with drinking enough water, you could try these:
Make your own flavoured water: Throw in slices of fruits, vegetables or herbs - a practice that helps make your water not only tasty but also healthy, thereby ensuring that you readily reach out for your bottle of water throughout the day. For some yummy flavoured water recipes, head here.
Tweak Your Diet:While nothing beats drinking water, at times, you can also rely on certain hydrating foods to help normalise the water levels in your body. Water-rich foods such as cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes and watermelons contain necessary nutrients which keep your body hydrated. If eating fruits and vegetables is not your thing, blend them into smoothies, juices or shakes or add them to your soups.
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