You should drink water!!! Every day!!! Why?
Human beings are about 60% water. We need to replace that water regularly. Most people have been told they should drink 6 to 8 glasses (250 ml) of water each day. That’s a reasonable goal. However, different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. Most healthy people can stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some people, fewer than 8 glasses may be enough. Other people may need more than 8 glasses each day.
But, many of us, if we’re honest, will own up to not drinking enough. Dehydration is more than being thirsty, however. It is severe and can be fatal. What is causing dehydration and what can we do to prevent this. It is easier than you might think!
First of all, how can you recognize if you are dehydrated
If you don’t drink enough water, you may become dehydrated. This means your body doesn’t have enough fluid to operate properly. Your urine can be an indicator if you’re dehydrated. If it’s colorless or light yellow, you’re well hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow or amber color, you may be dehydrated.But there are other signs that can signal you may be dehydrated. They include:
- Little or no urine
- Urine that is darker than usual
- Dry mouth
- Sleepiness or fatigue
- Extreme thirst
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
Some people are at higher risk of dehydration, including people who exercise at a high intensity (or in hot weather) for too long, have certain medical conditions (kidney stones, bladder infection), are sick (fever, vomiting, diarrhea), are pregnant or breastfeeding, are trying to lose weight, or aren’t able to get enough fluids during the day. Older adults are also at higher risk. As you get older, your brain may not be able to sense dehydration. It doesn’t send signals for thirst.
Note that water makes up more than half of your body weight. You lose water each day when you go to the bathroom, sweat, and even when you breathe. You lose water even faster when the weather is really hot, when you’re physically active, or if you have a fever. Vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to rapid water loss. Be sure to actively drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated.
What causes dehydration - just not drinking enough?
As we get older, the water content in our body decreases, meaning we need to drink more often. Older kidneys are also less efficient, so the urine contains more water. However, the sensation of thirst also decreases with age, creating a catch-22 situation. We need to drink more but are less likely to feel thirsty. Also medications can alter the balance of salt and water in our bodies, meaning we require more water. Blood pressure medications, for example, can cause more frequent urination. Other medications may cause loose stools or increased sweating. Vomiting and diarrhea also cause us to lose fluids rapidly.
Also if you exercise and sweat a lot, you need to ensure you compensate for this with water intake.
So what can I do against this?
Just drink plenty of water! Easy isn’t it? But how do you ensure you get enough water? We suggest that you agree with yourself on the amount of water you drink each day, this can be plain tap water or even better mineral water (sparkling or not - it doesn’t really matter). Let’s see you want to drink at least 2 liters each day. Just fill 2 liter bottles and make sure these are gone at the end of the day. But don’t just keep drinking continuously but have a glass or 2 every hour. This avoids flushing your body of all relevant minerals.
Then in addition, have your coffee and tea, with a few cups you have another liter of water in your system! And also many foods contain water. Example foods with plenty of water are cucumber, lettuce, celery, tomatoes, courgettes, spinach, squash, cauliflower, berries, cottage cheese, soup
When should I drink
First of all some tips:
- Keep a bottle of water with you during the day..
- If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink.
- Drink water before, during, and after a workout.
- When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan. Some research suggests that drinking water can help you feel full.
- Be careful with alcohol, as this will cause dehydration as well. Have at least 1 glass of water for every unit of alcohol you drink. And if you drank a bit more during the evening, don’t go to sleep before you had an additional 2 glasses of water, you will thank yourself in the morning!
A suggested routine could be:
- For each day, first things first, have 1-2 glasses of water to hydrate yourself when you get out of bed. When sleeping, we stop drinking water. We are still losing water though: through the skin as sweat, through moisture when we breathe, and through the making of urine in the kidneys. This means that we lose water while we sleep, so we get dehydrated at night.
- Have your morning coffee or tea together with a glass of water. It’s very common in Italy for example that you get a glass of water with your espresso.
- Make sure every hour you drink something, either coffee, tea and/or water. Distribute a bit evenly during the day (Note, avoid coffee after 14:00 for proper sleep).
- Although it’s not recommended to drink while eating, you have a glass of water before you eat (ideally with a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar). The food should also give you some water for your body to use.
- Have 1 or 2 glasses of water before going to sleep, this minimizes the dehydration during the night. First couple of nights you start doing this you might have to get up in the middle of the night, but your body will adjust.
What is happening under the hood when dehydrating?
- Where is water located in your body - Water is divided between two locations: intracellular (inside the cells) and extracellular (outside the cells). The extracellular compartments contain the water in the blood as well as the water located between the cells in the tissues. For the average person, about two thirds of the body's water is intracellular. Water can be exchanged between intracellular areas and extracellular components when necessary.
- Osmotic Pressure - Each compartment's fluid is made up of water and salts. These dissolved salts provide osmotic pressure to the compartment. Osmotic pressure represents the concentration of particular salts in each compartment relative to other compartments. The more salts in the water, the higher the osmotic pressure. Under normal circumstances, the osmotic pressure in the intracellular compartment is the same as in the extracellular compartment. When dehydration occurs, however, the concentration of salts in one or more compartments increases or decreases. This can provoke water to move from one compartment to another to even up the osmotic pressure differences between the cells and the extracellular compartment.
- Isotonic Dehydration - Isotonic dehydration, also known as isonatremic dehydration, refers to loss of water along with the salt that is normally in the water. Examples of conditions where this happens are diarrhea and vomiting. This depletes salts and water in the extracellular compartment, and water and salts move out of the cells to replace the lost extracellular fluid. There is no change in osmotic pressure, only a change in fluid volume in both compartments.
- Hypotonic Dehydration - Hypotonic dehydration means that the body's fluids have less concentrated salts dissolved in the water. Water present in the extracellular fluid then moves into the cells because the cells have more dissolved salts and thereby a higher osmotic pressure. It is possible to disrupt cell function and distort cell structure if overhydration occurs, such as when a person drinks too much water without taking in salts as well.
- Hypertonic Dehydration - Hypertonic dehydration means that the body has lost more water relative to salts. The extracellular fluid therefore has a higher osmotic pressure. Cells allow water to flow outward and into the extracellular fluid to balance the osmotic pressure difference between inside the cells and outside the cells.
- Overall Intracellular Changes - Overall, in conditions of dehydration, the cells of the body tend to donate water to the extracellular compartment, as the extracellular compartment is more changeable with regard to osmotic pressure than the intracellular. The cells can afford to donate water to adjust this because they contain about twice as much water as the extracellular compartment. Thus, a small change in the intracellular compartment means a more significant change to the extracellular compartment.