How do I know if I’m dehydrated?
“Drinking water is essential for our bodies to function properly.” These words are not just empty rhetoric; it has been estimated that nearly 75 percent of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration. Chronic dehydration occurs when individuals go days without drinking the recommended minimum amount of water to keep their bodies properly hydrated. When a person is chronically dehydrated, they begin to suffer some serious health complications including high blood pressure, fatigue, ulcers, headaches, weight gain and joint pain.
Our bodies are made up of approximately 60 percent water and this water helps to transport vital nutrients and oxygen throughout our system. Water also supports other bodily fluids such as lymphatic fluid, cerebral spinal fluid, mucus and the fluids found in our eyes. When our water levels are depleted we begin to feel the effects of mild dehydration such as a feeling of weakness, lethargy and oftentimes a headache. These feelings intensify if dehydration worsens and will be followed by hallucinations and eventually death.
We are constantly losing water throughout the day and it must be replenished in order for our organs and even our cells to do their job. Unfortunately, if an individual feels thirsty and they reach for a can of soda or a cup of coffee, they are contributing to the dehydration effect in their body. The worst drink offenders contributing to dehydration are caffeinated beverages such as coffee and soda as well as alcohol. The reason why they are so detrimental to our hydration is because they remove water on a cellular level. We might think we are quenching our thirst but in reality we are making the situation worse.
Even drinking so called “healthy” drinks such as Gatorade and other electrolyte replacement drinks come with their own set of problems. Ingesting too much potassium or sodium can lead to even greater electrolyte disturbances throughout the body instead of fixing the problem. Drinking water is by far the best choice all around, it will help to balance your fluid levels, electrolyte levels and allow your body to run as efficiently as possible.
The amount of water an individual should drink on a daily basis varies; some experts recommend drinking ½ ounce of water per pound of body weight for an inactive person and 2/3 ounce of water per pound of body weight for an athletic person. Others recommend drinking a minimum of eight to ten eight-ounce glasses of water per day. Whatever your water intake, you should try and spread it throughout the day and evening for the best efficacy. By eliminating chronic dehydration your body will run more efficiently and you will be surprised at how much better you feel and how much more energy you have.
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