The Secrets of Optimal Hydration
Optimal hydration is crucial to maintaining every organ and system in our bodies. Insufficient hydration can have an adverse effect on how your body functions. Even a 2% drop in optimal hydration can lead to cloudy thinking and fatigue…not to mention our skin looking dry and wrinkled!
Water is an essential component of every cell in the body. For example, the tissue that makes up our lungs is comprised of nearly 90% water. Our blood is more than 80% water. And, the brain is approximately 70% water.
How Optimal Hydration Helps Your Body
Optimal hydration is necessary for every function in your body. We need to be hydrated in order to eliminate toxins from the body through urination, your bowels, and sweating. When we are not properly hydrated, the body reabsorbs toxins. This puts stress on the liver and can wreak havoc on our immune systems over time.
When you are optimally hydrated, it’s easier for the body to maintain normal body temperature. And, research shows that your metabolism is also dependent on your level of hydration. When we are optimally hydrated, we burn calories at an accelerated rate.
Optimal hydration is important for the body in many other ways, including helping your body produce digestive enzymes, maintaining healthy skin and hair, absorbing essential vitamins and minerals, carrying nutrients to your cells, preventing constipation, and lubricating your joints.
5 Signs of Dehydration
The body works to maintain optimal hydration by using hormones to control how much we urinate and by giving our brain signals that we are thirsty. Yet, most people in our hemisphere live in a state of chronic dehydration. Dehydration happens when we lose more fluid than we take in.
Here are five ways you can tell if you are dehydrated:
- Your urine is dark. When you are hydrated, your urine is clear to straw-coloured. It becomes progressively darker the more dehydrated you are. So, if your urine is honey-coloured to dark-brown, that’s a sign that you need to hydrate. Remember that certain medications and foods can change the colour of your urine.
- You’re constipated. Water is critical for digestion and elimination. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation. Of course, there are many other factors that can cause constipation, including the food you eat, travel, and certain conditions and medications. If you are staying hydrated, your stool should be soft, and you should not have to strain.
- You have a dry mouth. A dry mouth is one of the first symptoms indicating that you need to hydrate. A sense of thirst may follow. Not being able to produce tears or sweat is another clear sign of dehydration.
- You get frequent headaches. Your brain can actually shrink from dehydration, causing you to get a headache. This is common after exercise when you have been sweating and not replenishing fluids. Dehydration headaches can occur at any time you become dehydrated, and they can be severe. You can tell if a headache is from dehydration because you will experience other signs of dehydration as well.
- You are tired. Dehydration can cause muscle fatigue, sleepiness, and general lethargy. When children are dehydrated, they tend to become less active.
People who are chronically dehydrated may suffer from these five most common symptoms, as well as other symptoms of dehydration, including indigestion, muscle and joint aches and pains, high blood pressure, fast heartbeat, depression, lack of mental clarity, skin problems, weight issues, and even allergies.
Severe dehydration can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, and confusion, and it can even lead to chronic kidney disease.
How to Stay Optimally Hydrated
Anyone can be at risk of dehydration. But some people are at greater risk than others. For example, your thirst sensation lessons as you grow older, so older people can be at higher risk of dehydration from simply not reading their bodies’ signals. If you take medications or perspire a lot due to exercise, working outdoors, or living in a hot, humid climate, you may be at greater risk of dehydration as well.
Eat Your Water for Optimal Hydration
You have probably been told that you need to drink eight glasses of water per day (eight ounces each) and even more if you exercise. This is partially true, but there is a better way to stay optimally hydrated. Eat your water!
Eating your water is the best way to get hydration to all of our cells. Gerald Pollack, Ph.D., a water scientist and bioengineer at the University of Washington, says that water exists in 4 states—solid, liquid, gas, and gel. His research shows that water in plants is far more hydrating than plain water and more apt to get to the right places in the body, including your cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that bathes your brain), your bloodstream, your gut lining, and your respiratory system.
I’m not saying you should stop drinking water; drinking pure water helps to meet your hydration needs. Just be sure to get some gel-water from food sources, too.
Here are four more ways to make sure you stay hydrated:
- Improve your water. To ensure you get enough water, add something to your water to make it more hydrating, such as a pinch of Celtic or Himalayan salt, lemons, cucumbers, strawberries, or watermelon.
- Watch your caffeine intake. Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive substances on the planet. And, caffeinated beverages, including coffee, tea, and sodas have a mild diuretic effect, which means they remove water and other nutrients from your body. You may notice that you urinate more when you drink caffeine. So, be sure to drink or eat more water as well.
- Limit alcohol use. Alcohol reduces the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) your body produces. When you have less ADH available, your body loses more fluid than normal through increased urination. Of course, if you imbibe a little as part of a ritual or celebration, then you are not going to become severely dehydrated. Just don’t overdo it.
- Trust your body. How much water you need varies, depending on many factors, including how much you exercise, whether you drink alcohol or caffeine, how much you travel, and if you take medications. Be sure to trust your body’s signals. If you think you need to drink or eat more water, then you do. Be sure to hydrate gradually throughout the day.
Remember, fluids other than pure water don’t meet your needs for hydration the way that water does because they don’t act the same as water in your body. Once you begin hydrating your body optimally, you will notice that many symptoms will clear up.
Finally, stop drinking water in abundance after 5 pm. Why? I do not want you to get up at midnight to go to the toilet again. This often leads to ‘monkey chatter’ and then ’tired but wired’. You see…. I know you!