Health · Wellness

Are You Drinking Enough Water? Signs You May Be Chronically Dehydrated

Welcome back!

Now that summer is (finally) upon us, it’s time to really focus on how much water you’re drinking in a day. With the family holidays upon us and the sunny long weekends outdoors, it is extremely important to make sure you are drinking enough water.

Everyone knows that we’re supposed to drink 8 cups of water a day (if not more!) – a widely known fact since as long as I can possibly remember. But what happens if you fail to drink that much on a hot, sunny day? Or if you regularly consume only a few cups or less a day?

The most common signs of dehydration are thirst, fatigue, dry mouth, headache, alongside dry skin, constipation, dizziness – but what happens if you are chronically dehydrated? Does your body still react this way when it is accustomed to getting little to no water on a regular basis?

Take a moment and Google ‘dehydration’ or ‘chronic dehydration’ and you will see how many articles are out there warning you of the signs and symptoms. An article put out by CBS says that up to 75% of Americans are not getting the required 10 cups of water a day, as prescribed by the Institute of Medicine, in turn causing chronic dehydration. That’s what I consider a health epidemic.

Our current society is always on the go, and no one seems to have time to stop and drink some water. At the same time, we continue to get more and more fatigued. See the connection? Perhaps you spend your day feeling so exhausted because your body is actually telling you that it needs water. Instead of getting up from your desk, couch, or wherever you are to grab a cup of coffee – go fill up your cup with water. Our society relies so heavily on coffee because we are so tired, but we’re not realizing that the fatigue is actually from lack of water. Do you see the vicious cycle? We continue to fill our body up with drinks that are actually diuretics that are pushing you further into dehydration.

Another issue that arises with dehydration is, as you drink less water, your body loses its sensitivity to the need for water so you don’t get thirsty as often. Without this signal for thirst it makes it difficult to realize that you need water. Not to mention, as you become more chronically dehydrated, it gets more difficult to drink an entire cup of water without feeling nauseous. Some people have to start drinking small amounts of water and build up to an entire glass because of how severe their chronic dehydration has gotten. Unfortunately, for people who already find drinking water a hassle, this can lead to them not even bothering.

Here’s why you SHOULD bother to drink multiple cups of water a day:

  1. Bad breath – if you are chronically dehydrated, your body isn’t able to make enough saliva to work against the bacteria that is in your mouth – which leads to an overgrowth in bacteria causing bad breath
  2. Muscle cramps – without enough water your muscles can’t work the same way when you are doing any physical activity because as they heat up they will start to seize up
  3. Hunger, Food cravings (especially for sweets) – this may be extra helpful for people looking to curb their cravings. Many times we think that we are hungry, but in reality, it is our body’s signalling that we need water. Before you go looking for a snack, try drinking a glass of water and your food craving just might disappear! When we are dehydrated, our bodies will pull liquid from any where they can – so if our body is signalling that we are hungry – it could be because it wants to pull the moisture out of the food.
  4. Allergies, Asthma – when you’re dehydrated, histamine levels rise in your body and your immune system is not balanced, which makes it difficult for your body to fight against allergens in your environment. Also, with the rise of histamine in your body, your bronchial tubes begin to constrict and mucus is formed in order to preserve water for the cells in your lungs, which in turn cause asthma and asthma-like symptoms
  5. Joint Pain – joints are covered in cartilage, and cartilage is mainly made up of water. When your body is short on water, this cartilage dries out and weakens and slows down joint repair
  6. Bladder/Kidney Problems – when we are dehydrated, we don’t have enough fluids to clean out our organs of all of the toxins that enter our body, so these toxins start to build up (and thrive!) and can cause infection and inflammation in the kidneys and bladder

Other notable symptoms include: high blood pressure; high cholesterol; skin disorders; digestive problems, such as acid reflux; early aging and weight gain

According to this article in the Chicago Tribune, the amount of water people consume varies by health habits – “People who drink less water are the same folks who consume a cup or less of fruits and vegetables a day, exercise less than 150 minutes a week, smoke or used to smoke, eat fast food more than once a week, eat fewer than five family dinners a week and do not shop at farmers markets.” I think this is a PERFECT description of a lot of people I know who consume little to no water on a regular basis.

I completely understand how difficult it can be to drink water. It can be so BORING! Here are a few ideas to help liven up your glass of water:
  • add lemon or lime (tastes great and will give you a boost of energy)
  • infuse your water with other fruits or veggies (cucumber water, anyone?)
  • carbonate your water with a device like a SodaStream
  • add fruits/veggies AND carbonate your water!

Please remember, beverages such as coffee, tea, alcohol and sugary drinks are actually counteractive to your hydration needs. When you are thirsty the best thing you can do is grab yourself a cup of water!

If you are having a hard time reaching your water intake goals, another great way to incorporate water into your diet is by eating fruits and vegetables that are high in water, such as: celery, leafy greens, strawberries, cantaloupe and watermelon. This is a great way to enjoy some delicious foods, and help your body meet its water needs.

The best way to know you are getting enough water in your day is by the colour of your pee. If it is dark yellow, then you need to drink water. If it is clear, your drinking too much and can probably cut back a bit. Your pee should be the colour of lemonade – I never seem to forget that comparison so I thought I would share it with you!

I hope you take away a lot of good information from my post today. Let me know your thoughts in the comments and feel free to share this info with others! 🙂

Until next time,

Briana

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8 thoughts on “Are You Drinking Enough Water? Signs You May Be Chronically Dehydrated

  1. This a great article. It’s really informative. I found this bit particularly interesting – “as you drink less water, your body loses its sensitivity to the need for water so you don’t get thirsty as often. Without this signal for thirst it makes it difficult to realize that you need water.” I’ve definitely experienced this without realising that is what was happening. I’m working on trying to drink more water and I do feel the benefits when I manage keep myself properly re-hydrated for a few days. https://cultivatingtime.wordpress.com/

    Liked by 1 person

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