And when I’m really honest with myself, I know I need to be more proactive. Because, in the last couple of years, every time I get my bloodwork read the practitioner mumbles that I’m dehydrated. Even the person doing my blood draw questions my hydration.
No one ever makes a big deal about it though … but I know it’s something I don’t want to be lax on because of the consequences.
You see, being dehydrated, whether it’s moderate, chronic or severe, is no joke and can have severe health implications and even cause death.
Practitioners should really be making a big deal of it and here’s why …
The Dangers of Dehydration
Chronic dehydration can cause some pretty serious problems like: kidney stones, kidney disease, gallstones, urinary infections, digestive disorders, stomach ulcers, eczema, low blood volume, depression, muscle cramps, joint problems, premature aging, and an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol.
Severe dehydration can cause liver, kidney or brain damage and even death.
There can actually be a snowball effect with dehydration. You see, when you hydrate you flush the toxins from the body. When you’re dehydrated toxins build up in the body and that could end up causing inflammation. And too much inflammation can be the beginning of many diseases.
Also, when your body is not hydrated it makes it difficult to get rid of the acid waste. When the body is acidic it becomes the perfect environment for cancer cells to grow.
How to Tell if You are Dehydrated
Well, there are blood and urine tests to tell if you are dehydrated. But if you suspect you are, you probably are.
And anyone at any time can become dehydrated. It doesn’t take much. Just losing 1.5% of your body water can make you mildly dehydrated, 10% for moderate dehydration and death occurs at 15-25 percent.
But those are percentages that are hard to figure out when it comes to your own body.
So instead look for symptoms and adjust to what your body is asking for.
Here are some symptoms to look out for in mild to moderate dehydration:
· Dry mouth
· Bad breath
· Dark urine
· Headache and migraine
· Brain fog
· Bad mood
· Muscle weakness
· Dry skin
· Pruney fingertips
· Few to no tears
And severe dehydration symptoms:
· Low blood pressure
· Lack of sweating
· Increased heart rate
· Sunken eyes
· Confusion or anger
You should seek medical attention for you or anyone experiencing severe symptoms due to dehydration.
Causes of Dehydration
Besides not getting enough water, fruits, and vegetables, you can become dehydrated from medications, sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, stress, frequent urination, natural diuretics, flus, colds, working or exercising outside, being in a high altitude, eating a low-carbohydrate diet and alcohol consumption.
Also diabetics, and those with kidney disease and cystic fibrosis, are more prone to dehydration.
Aging can also cause dehydration. You see, as the body ages it doesn’t conserve as much fluid. And on top of that the sense of thirst declines. And those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, if not being monitored, are certainly not going to remember to get their fluids.
So if you suspect you are dehydrated (or someone you care for is) it’s time to get serious about intake.
Ways to Hydrate
Well of course you could just drink the recommended amount, which varies. Some experts suggest eight 16-ounce glasses a day where others say to multiply your weight by 67% and that’ll give you the number of ounces to drink. There are also all sorts of hydration calculators online – just Google hydration calculator to find one or many.
And of course you may need to add more water based on your circumstances of health status, age, climate, diet, exercise, or if you’ve recently been sick.
But if you hate water like I do, you could increase your servings of fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus I like to add bone broth to my daily diet, which also counts as a hydrating source.
Some other natural sources that increase your hydration are green drinks ( click here for my recipe), coconut water and herbal teas that don’t have diuretic effects.
You could also spruce up your water with one or two of the following: lemons, limes, ginger, strawberries, mint and cucumbers.
I also have this free app on my phone that reminds me to drink water. It’s cute because every time I drink water I let the app know and it waters my virtual plant. It’s a game and I’m not sure yet what happens to all my plants, but they are happy and so is my body, skin, hair and nails.
So if you forget to get your daily amount try the app – it’s called Plant Nanny. There are others apps out there but that’s the one I use.
Also, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to hydrate. Make it a habit to drink every hour. If you don’t want to download an app you can always set an alarm to remind yourself.
A Few Things to Avoid
· Tap water, because it could contain heavy metals and chlorine
· Bottled water that is not in a BPA-free plastic
· Distilled water due to its acidity and lack of minerals
· Sugary sports drinks and fruit juices that contain high-fructose corn syrup
How to Know When You are Well Hydrated
Your urine will be a pale yellow color (that’s a great sign). Your early symptoms of a headache, bad breath, cotton mouth and pruney fingers will have disappeared. You will also be able to pinch the skin on the back of the hand and if it snaps back in under two seconds … you are hydrated.
Your body is two-thirds water, so it only makes sense that you keep it hydrated.
Most importantly – just listen to your body. Look for the signs and don’t ignore them. It’s up to you to take care of yourself, no one else will.
For a healthier you!
Popkin BM., Et. al. Water, Hydration and Health. Nutr Rev. 2010.
Riebl SK., Et. al. The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance. ACSMs Health Fit J. 2013.