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We can get fluid from things other than water, although plain drinking water is recommended as one of the best ways to hydrate because it has zero calories and provides only benefits to the body with no drawbacks.
You may have heard that your urine colour can tell you if you’re getting enough water. Although a number of things can affect the colour of your urine, including vitamins you may be taking or the types of foods you’re eating, in general, the lighter your urine colour, the more hydrated you are. A dark, deep yellow colour may suggest dehydration. Urine should be a very pale yellow if you’re properly hydrated.
Most health experts also suggest that you listen to your thirst as you’re body will naturally tell you when you need water. Our busy lifestyles, however, can cause us to miss these signals. Older adults, too, are less likely to notice that they’re thirsty.
What Does Dehydration Do to You?
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in, and it no longer has what it needs to carry out its normal, daily functions. Without replacement water, symptoms develop. How severe those symptoms depend on how low you are on your fluids but, in general, symptoms of dehydration include:
* Dry mouth
* Muscle weakness
* Fatigue or lethargy
* Dry eyes or blurred vision, particularly when exercising
* Muscle cramps
Severe dehydration, which is defined as a loss of 10 to 15 percent of the body’s water, may include more serious symptoms like:
* Sunken eyes
* Low blood pressure
* Increased heart rate
* Shriveled, dry skin
* Inability to sweat
Most people will never experience this dangerous form of dehydration because it’s most likely when individuals are suffering from other major illnesses, from long-term diarrhea or vomiting or from exercising vigorously in the hot weather. Mild dehydration, however, is a much more common condition.
What Happens When You’re Slightly Dehydrated?
Studies have found that even mild dehydration can cause emotional and physical problems in people but, unfortunately, we’re often unaware of it. Studies have shown, that mild dehydration could alter a person’s mood, energy level and ability to think clearly.
Researchers also discovered that thirst isn’t always a reliable indicator of when we need water. Our thirst sensation doesn’t really appear until we are one or two percent dehydrated, by then, dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform.
In a test involving young women, scientists found that mild dehydration caused headaches, fatigue, mood changes and difficulty concentrating and also made tasks feel more difficult. In a test involving young men, it caused some difficulty with mental tasks, especially those requiring lots of focus and working memory. Men also experienced fatigue, tension, and anxiety.
If you’re trying to concentrate on a project, you have to be sure you’re staying hydrated, even just 1 to 2 percent dehydration could impair cognitive performance, resulting in poor concentration, increased reaction time, short-term memory problems, moodiness and anxiety.
10 Tips for Staying Hydrated
Whether you’re a busy mom, business executive or serious athlete, there are times when you may find staying hydrated challenging.
Here are 10 tips to help:
1. Drink plain water instead of other fluids many other drinks have a de-hydrating effect on the body. So always turn to water when you’re thirsty.
2. Always keep a water bottle with you: Carry a stainless-steel or other type of reusable bottle with you and keep refilling it throughout the day.
3. If you’re hungry, drink: Sometimes, when you feel hungry, you’re actually thirsty. The body knows it can get fluids from food too, so your signals can get crossed. Try drinking first to see if the urge goes away.
4. Keep a water chart: If you have a hard time remembering to drink throughout the day, keep a chart nearby and make a mark each time you finish a glass of water, shooting for at least eight glasses a day or 2 litres.
5. Drink before each meal: Studies show that when you drink a full glass of water before a meal, you’ll likely consume fewer calories.
6. Always drink after exercise: If you’re a serious athlete, make sure you always have water nearby or with you so you can stay hydrated.
7. Eat more water-filled foods: Certain foods can help keep you hydrated and help you lose weight since they make you feel full with minimal calories. Eat more melons, soups, salads, berries, peaches, citrus fruits, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, grapefruit, cabbage, cottage cheese, radishes, spinach, broccoli, carrots, apples, pears, pineapple, yogurt, grapes, and kiwi.
8. Drink before going outside: in all temperatures, the body evaporates fluids to keep our bodies cool in hot weather or when exercising and to generate more energy to keep us warm in cold weather.
9. Always measure out 2 litres of water every morning and attempt to drink it all by early evening. By measuring it out saves you the task of having to remember just how much you have, or haven't drunk that day!
10. Set a timer: Use your phone to set a timer to go off every hour. When it does, drink out of your pre-measured allowance.