We are made up of an average of 60% water! Our brain is made of a surprising 75% water and even our bones are 30% water. With so much of our bodies made of water it’s no surprise that dehydration has a strong impact. A human can live for weeks without eating food, but can only survive a few days without water.
As important as water is to us it is even more vital when we workout, especially in the summer months. However, did you know that an estimated 75% of Americans are not drinking enough water daily! 7% of Americans even admit to skipping water some days! Keep reading to learn more about drinking water and how to get yourself and loved ones to drink more.
Causes of Dehydration
- Lifestyle factors like diet, activity levels, and alcohol consumption
- Frequent urination
- Stress levels
Signs and Symptoms
Dehydration can sneak up on you quickly, especially during spring and summer months. However, if you feel thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated. Some additional common signs and symptoms of dehydration are:
- Dark urine
- Bad breath
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Muscle cramps and fatigue
- Dry skin
- Low blood pressure
- Decreased sweating if you’re exercising and should otherwise be sweating
- Increased cravings for sweet, sugary foods
It’s important to note that dehydration also has effects on the brain. If you’re dehydrated you might feel confused, cranky or anxious. A 2019 study by Zhang et al. confirmed brain changes of not drinking water. They found that dehydration had negative effects on motivation, short-term memory and attention.
How to Prevent Dehydration This Summer!
- Use a reusable water bottle and keep it filled!
- Try replacing sugary drinks with water
- Try a wedge of lime or lemon to add flavor!
- Add in more foods that are high in water content
- Pace yourself- you can drink water in small doses throughout the day instead of all at once
How Much is Enough?
The benefits of drinking water are undeniable. However, how much should you drink? The easiest way to tell hydration level is through our urine. When you are well hydrated your pee should be almost clear with a little yellow in it and there should be little to no smell.
However, when you go to the bathroom if your pee is a dark yellow and if it smells heavily of urine than chances are that you are dehydrated. In fact, without taking any vitamins that day, the darker the color or the smellier it is the more dehydrated you are. At 1% dehydration our pee will be yellow, at 5% dehydration levels our pee will be chardonnay colored, and over 5% dehydration our pee could look orange in color.
How Much is Too Much?
Finally, with all the great health benefits of water and the good that comes with being well hydrated some may think that, with water, you can’t get enough of a good thing. Well actually…you can. It is rare, but you can drink so much water you disturb the balance of nutrients in your body. Specifically, drinking too much water can cause your body to have low sodium. Sodium is an important nutrient responsible for many basic functions including heart pumping. However, for most of us it will be very challenging to enter into this state. Especially, with a moderate increase in our water consumption that has been attributed to the many health benefits of water.