Have you drunk enough water today? Were always being told we need to drink more water and that its imperative that you drink at least X amount of water every day. But why? What are the reasons behind it and what are some of the problems caused by being dehydrated?
What is Dehydration?
Simply put dehydration is when the bodies level of water (including salts and sugars) falls below its normal level upsetting the bodies natural balance. It is defined by a 1% loss of water from total body weight. Common indicators are a dry mouth and darker urine. Also not passing urine as often as usual
How much of your body is water and what does it do?
Lets look at water in your body. The average persons body is roughly made up of around around 75% water. This is everything from your skin (65%) brain (75%) even your bones are 30% water. It’s hard to believe as we all seem so solid but it is true. We also lose a lot of this water on daily basis as our bodies expel water through urination, sweating, breathing and several other ways such as crying and mucous. So if your body is so happy to let go of all of this water in the first place it can’t be that important then can it? Well again lets take a look at a few of the things that all that water in the body does.
- Its one of the bodies base building blocks
- Flushes your system of waste
- Produces saliva and aids digestion
- Transports nutrients around the body
- Regulates body temperature
All very important for the day to day running of a healthy body and mind. On top of these major functions being dehydrated also causes other issues and in extreme cases even death. As little as a 10% drop in water in relation to body weight can lead to a medical emergency. A very common symptom of dehydration is headaches. Specifically headaches that are felt around the back of the head and down the neck which worsen when the head is tilted forward or moved from side to side. On top of headaches it also affects your brains cognitive functions making it harder to stay focused and reducing the accuracy of thought processes. Another symptom can be trouble sleeping and in extreme cases insomnia. For those involved with sport the chances of dehydration are even higher due to physical exertion and the resulting dehydration can cause a drop off in physical performance so it is especially important to keep hydrated.
Who is at risk?
Although anyone who isn’t taking on an adequate amount of water is at risk but there are certain people or situations that are at higher risk
- People taking part in sport or physical activities
- People in hotter climates or spending time in the sun
- Diabetics and people with general sickness’s especially diarrhoea and vomiting
- Young children or the elderly
What to do if you are dehydrated
The simplest thing and also the most effective is to simply rehydrate with water or isotonic sports drinks. On average you should get around 80% of your daily need through drinking water. The rest your body will extract from the food and other drinks you consume. Another tip is to consistently sip smaller amounts of water throughout the day as your body can only deal with so much water at a time. The amount of water each person needs varies depending on body type and size, the work or exercise you do and also the climate you live in. The guideline from various food and health agencies also varies from 2 to 3 litres a day for men and 1.6 to 2.2 litres a day for women. Another more accurate guideline is two half your body weight and drink that amount in fluid ounces a day.
Finally I would suggest that as it is very personal to each individual find a level where you don’t feel any of the signs of dehydration such as dry mouth or darker urine and stick with it. You should know when it feels right
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