Hydration is critically important to our health. Water makes up around 75% of our bodies and it is used in countless crucial functions throughout the body. Water acts as an important catalyst for a number of chemical reactions (including working as an enzyme in order to aid with the digestion of food) and forms the basis of everything from neurotransmitters to our blood.
If you aren’t getting enough water, then this will affect nearly every part of your body – from your skin and hair to your teeth and nails. And you’ll feel low on energy, struggle with a poor mood and generally not operate at 100%. It is believed that anywhere up to 75% of Americans spend the vast majority of their time dehydrated and are operating at a deficit as a result.
Signs that you may be dehydrated and the important roles of water
1. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Feeling lethargic and tired, and you don’t know why, consider that hydration might be the issue!
Your blood and many other bodily fluids are composed of water and when you are dehydrated, these become thicker and less diluted. That in turn means that you won’t be able to get the necessary oxygen and nutrients around the body as needed. This is just one factor that can make you feel tired, run down and sluggish. Another is a lack of nutrients as the gut is less able to digest nutrients due to a lack of digestive enzymes.
2. Yellow Urine: If your urine appears a strong orange or yellow color, it is a sign of dehydration. This means there is not enough water in your system.
There are other things that can cause urine to become discolored – such as certain medications or even vitamin supplements and some foods. But if you have had a long day and you can’t remember the last time you had a drink… fill up that water bottle and get drinking!
3. Constipation: Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation. Not having enough water in your system causes stool to become dried out, which in turn prevents it from passing through the bowels.
Drinking more water is actually one of the best ways to solve constipation, as is consuming any food that is high in oils such as fish or avocado – this can help to lubricate the stool and encourage it to pass. Prunes contain insoluble fiber that will break up the trapped stool and the sorbitol content causes the stool to absorb more fluid.
4. Headaches: Dehydration is one of the most common causes of a headache. When the brain is dehydrated this can actually cause it to shrink due to the lost fluid – just like a sponge. This then causes the brain to pull away from the skull, resulting in discomfort and difficulty thinking.
Combine this with the lack of water needed for countless chemical reactions and you have a recipe for headache, brain fog and generally poor cognitive performance.
5. Irritability: Dehydration can lead to inflammation in the brain, which has recently been linked to depression and other mood disorders. You might find yourself experiencing a shorter temper, or perhaps feeling low.
6. Impaired Memory and Concentration (Brain Fog): Dehydration can cause brain fog, leading to poor concentration, impaired memory and general difficulty getting things done. This can negatively impact on your productivity and the amount of work you do in a day and it can also cause you to make mistakes.
7. Thirst: If you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. If your mouth and throat feel dry and you are craving juice or water, then don’t deny your body and drink.
Even if you think you’ve had enough, always listen to your body. Countless factors can lead to you needing more than the recommended 8 glasses including temperature, activity levels and your own body weight. If you’re thirsty, drink!
8. Dry Mouth: Similar to thirstiness, you might notice that your mouth feels very dry when you are dehydrated. This is because your body needs fluid in order to create saliva, which is what normally moistens the mouth.
Saliva serves a number of important roles: acting as the first stage in your digestion to help you dissolve and break up food via enzymes and also helping you to clean your mouth and kill bacteria with its antiseptic properties. Lack of saliva can cause you to struggle eating certain foods and halitosis (bad breath.) In the long term, consistent dehydration can cause you to increase your likelihood of tooth decay.
9. Cracking Lips and Hands: Your skin is an organ and when you’re dehydrated your skin will show signs in the appearance of cracks forming on your knuckles and your lips.
This can be unattractive as well as itchy and painful. If you scratch, you run the risk of the skin breaking open, leading to bleeding. To prevent this you need to not only hydrate with plenty of fluids but also use moisturising creams to keep your skin soft.
10. Dry Eyes: Your eyes can dry out as a result of your tear ducts not having the fluid they need to create moisture. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of bloodshot eyes. Dehydration is also one of the reasons for bags appearing under the eyes and giving you that puffy look.
If you want to look bright eyed in the morning, drink up!
11. Indigestion: Your body uses liquids to break down food and to create the important enzymes that help digestion in the gut and the intestines. Dehydration can lead to indigestion, heartburn and a myriad of other difficulties.
If you are suffering from indigestion, one of the best things you can often do is actually just to drink some cool water!
12. Cramps: Dehydration alters the balance of electrolytes and can lead to muscle cramps. It is the ratio of electrolytes like sodium, calcium and potassium, along with the amount of water in your system, that is responsible for keeping your muscles functional.
When you become dehydrated and that ratio is skewed, you can end up experiencing cramping and spasming which can be very painful. This is especially common at night, following exercise or an especially hot day.
High potassium foods such as bananas can help with cramping. Applying a topical magnesium cream to the cramp can also help. **
13. Rapid Heart Rate: If you are very dehydrated then your body will start to struggle. Blood pressure will be likely to decrease, the heart rate will increase and breathing will also become more rapid. At the same time, body temperature is likely to go up, which the body will then fight to try and cool back down.
Past a point, dehydration actually becomes incredibly dangerous and fluids may be needed intravenously.
14. Urinary Tract Infections: When we are dehydrated we are likely to need the toilet less often. The urine is less diluted and bacteria that should be flushed out can end up multiplying in the urinary tract, thereby leading to an infection.
There are many causes of urinary tract infection but if you find you have the condition chronically, then you may benefit from assessing your drinking habits.
15. Inability to Lose Weight: Those that don’t drink enough water might just find they struggle to lose weight. Being dehydrated will instantly slow down the rate at which your body burns calories and that makes it much harder for you to burn fat while exercising.
Not drinking enough encourages the cells to store more water and this gives you a puffy look that appears like fat. Drinking more water and staying away from salt is the best way to avoid this effect. Simply being better hydrated can make you instantly appear more toned.
**Body & Soul Massage recommends massaging the muscle with Magnesium Calming Cream by Therablend to help with muscle cramps.
Body & Soul Massage in Salem Ma offers Therapeutic Massage for Pain Relief. Visit our website to read more blogs about Health and Wellness or learn more about us.