Am I Dehydrated? Probably So
We often get the question, “Am I dehydrated?” Well, if you are asking that question, the answer is probably “yes!” Check out these Doctor recommended tips to make sure you stay hydrated and healthy!
Grab the water and hydrate
It is estimated that over seventy-five percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
How is this possible when water is freely available? The answer is simple. We don’t drink it! We mix water with all kinds of sugary powders and artificial flavorings and the net result is fluid loss or dehydration. Additionally, we consume foods and beverages that are dehydrating, such as alcohol, caffeine, salt-laden snacks, and energy drinks.
Why is water so Important?
Your body is two-thirds water, your brain is ninety-five percent water, and lungs are ninety percent water. Water is involved with almost every biochemical reaction in the body. If we do not have enough of it, metabolism slows down.
Water is also used to regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, protect organs, remove waste, help absorb nutrients, help convert food to energy and help transport oxygen to cells. It is vitally important that we maintain hydration.
You can begin to feel symptoms with as little as two percent water loss!
How to know if you are dehydrated?
- The turgor test. First, use two fingers to grab a roll of skin on the back of your wrist, where your watch sits. Pull the skin up to about ½ to one centimeter high and, hold for a few seconds; then let the skin go. The skin should spring back to its beginning position in less than a couple of seconds. If the skin bounces back slowly or leaves semi-permanent marks, you may be dehydrated.
- Check your urine. If you’re well-hydrated, your urine will be mostly clear or a slight yellow color. Yellow, chardonnay, and orange are the “warning” colors to watch for. When your body is about three percent dehydrated, your urine will be noticeably yellow. When your body is about five percent dehydrated, your urine will appear chardonnay-colored. When your body is more than five percent dehydrated – which is considered severely dehydrated – your urine will appear orange.
How much water is enough?
It is estimated that the average person needs to consume two liters per day, however, many health professionals recommend drinking water throughout the day, even when you are not thirsty. Active individuals, those breastfeeding, and the elderly need to consume more.
Who are at risk?
- Infants and children due to their small size and low body weight.
- The elderly – As we age, our bodies become less able to conserve water. In addition, we begin to lose our thirst sensation as well.
- Those with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, can rob the body of water.
- People who exercise – Gym goers sweat more, needing more water. This is especially true of endurance athletes and those living in higher altitudes.
- Those working outside, especially in hot and humid weather. When it is hot and humid, sweat does not evaporate as quickly, leading to higher body temperatures.
9 Dehydration Symptoms
- Dry skin – Many people think that the answer to dry skin using a moisturizing lotion when in fact that is covering up the problem. The skin is dry because there is not enough fluid and is being rerouted to more essential body parts.
- Muscle cramps and spasms – Many people will get muscle cramps, particularly at night or when performing exercise. Without proper fluid and associated electrolyte balance, the muscle will tighten when worked. This can be very painful.
- Headaches – The brain sits in a fluid-filled sac, protecting the delegate structures. If there is less fluid in the protective sac, then the sac will contact the inside of the skull, causing pressure on the brain, causing headaches.
- Food cravings – Your body needs water to help metabolize nutrients. When it senses that it is not getting enough of that specific nutrient, a craving will follow. Next time you are craving something sweet or salty, drink some water and wait, most of the time the craving will diminish.
- Constipation – Many Americans suffer from constipation. Water is reabsorbed in the large intestine. If you do not have enough, then it will take more, leaving a hard stool.
- Overheating – Water is essential for temperature regulation, as our temperature rises, we sweat. Sweat is meant to cool the body. If you stop sweating (check out the benefits of sweating) while performing a physical activity you are approaching heat stroke, a potentially life-threatening condition.
- Fatigue and lethargy – Blood volume and blood pressure drop as we dehydrate. With that, our body is not getting the required amount of nutrients due to slower blood flow. Muscle and nerve functions slow and fatigue sets in.
- Orthostatic hypotension, or a sudden feeling of light-headedness when you stand up from a lying or sitting position. This is due to a sudden drop in blood pressure.
- Heart palpitations – As blood flow is slowed, the heart like any other muscle feels the effects. This can cause an alteration in its regular beating pattern.
8 ways to prevent dehydration
- Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and drink from it frequently.
- Listen to your body. Drink pure water, especially when you are thirsty.
- Replenish fluids after exercising.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables as many contain as much as ninety percent water.
- Avoid adding salt or salt-containing meals.
- Avoid alcohol, beer, and wine.
- If eating a high protein diet, such as when trying to gain muscle mass drink plenty of fluids.
- Do not substitute water for other fluids, as many are dehydrating.
So if you think you are dehydrated, then you’re probably right!
Follow this advice and listen to your body. It will thank you in a healthy, hydrated fashion!
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