Do you constantly feel tired? Do you suffer from headaches, foggy thinking or achy joints?
If you answered yes to any of these symptoms, then there’s a good chance you’re dehydrated. Many people live in a state on constant dehydration, and they don’t realise that they'd probably have more energy and vitality if they drank more water.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of early dehydration:
Thirst – this one seems obvious, but did you know that by the time you’re feeling thirsty, dehydration has already occurred? It's best to stay on top of your water intake before you actually feel thirsty.
Fatigue – blood flow can drop due to a lack of water and oxygen in the blood, causing muscles and nerve function to literally burn out. A large percentage of people can attribute their fatigue and low energy to dehydration.
Headaches – dehydration can cause headaches and can trigger migraines.
Urine colour – your urine gives a good indication of your body’s level of hydration. Pale yellow or straw colour means you’re well hydrated, but if it’s a dark yellow or has a brownish tinge, it’s usually a sign that you’re dehydrated.
Flushed skin, especially the face and neck
Muscle cramps – hydration (and electrolyte balance) is vital for muscle contraction. When sodium and potassium stores are low due to dehydration, it can cause painful muscle cramps.
Sudden light headedness – your blood pressure can drop due to dehydration, and dizziness can occur if you stand up too quickly.
If you’re still not convinced, here are some additional reasons to stay hydrated:
Optimal Brain Function & Mental Clarity
When we are well hydrated, brain cells are better supplied with fresh, oxygen-laden blood and the brain remains alert. Mild dehydration (1%-2% loss in body weight) can reduce your ability to concentrate. Loss of more than 2% body weight due to dehydration can affect your brain’s processing abilities and impair short-term memory.
Joint Health & Maintenance
Your joints are filled with fluid and therefore you must drink enough water to keep them moving freely and working properly. This is especially true of the discs between your vertebrae in your spine, and also in your knees. If you suffer from pain in your joints, increasing your water intake may help by keeping the cartilage soft and hydrated.
Weight Loss & Weight Management
People often mistake thirst for hunger. The next time you’re hungry try drinking a big glass of fresh water – you will be amazed what it does to your appetite! Keeping adequately hydrated can also increase your body’s ability to metabolise stored fat, as your body needs water for this process to happen. The opposite happens when you are dehydrated – you will store fat more easily.
Hydration plays an important role in how well you digest food and absorb nutrients. Dehydration will slow the digestive process and chronic dehydration can lead to constipation and other digestive problems.
You can lose up to a litre of fluid an hour, depending on how long and how hard you’re exercising. If you’re already dehydrated before you start, or you don’t keep your fluid levels topped up, you will quickly become dehydrated, which will effect your performance. Lean muscle tissue contains more than 75% water so when the body is short of H2O, muscles fatigue more easily causing a decline in performance (strength, power and aerobic capacity).
Keeping track of your water intake throughout the day, and aiming for 2L every day, is the best way to ensure you remain hydrated. I personally aim to drink 1x full bottle of water (700ml) before 12pm, another full bottle between 12pm and 4pm and then another full bottle between 4pm and 8pm. That ensures I'm drinking 2.1L every day and keeps me feeling energised and performing my best.
Try it out and let me know how you feel!