How Dehydration Affects These 10 Functions & What to Do About It NOW
Clinical Nutritionist for Bossa Bars Menopause Energy Bars
Proper hydration is one of the simplest things we can do to help support our health and wellness at any age and especially as we age. Even being a little bit dehydrated can affect many functions in our bodies, including the ten:
- cognitive function
- energy levels
- joint lubrication
- body temperature
- weight loss and food cravings (many of us have mixed up the signals for hunger and thirst)
- immune function
- muscle tone
How Much Is Enough?
I am often asked by clients how much water should they drink a day? Start with the goal of drinking one-half your body’s weight in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you will want to start with 75 ounces of liquid per day. By liquid, I mean water, decaffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages, or brothy soups. This is a starting point. If you are in the heat or sweating a lot, you will likely need more.
Tips for Getting It All In
That can be a big jump in fluid increase for some people. Start by measuring the water in a pitcher or your favorite water bottle. Then calculate how many of those you need to consume per day and create a schedule.
For me, I usually drink my water out of a recycled glass milk bottle (or check out our new glossy water bottle to hydrate with style!). I aim to drink one of them before lunch and one after lunch. Various cups of herb tea and warm water (a personal favorite) during the day and evening rounds me up to my ideal amount.
If you are not used to drinking enough water, you may find that you are running to the bathroom quite often. Increase your water intake slowly, and you may need to consider supplementing with some electrolytes so that the water you are consuming is absorbed.
Fruits and Vegetables to The Rescue
Another way to increase hydration is to eat more fruits and vegetables. Many of them are rich in juices (think citrus fruit, tomatoes, berries, cucumber, spinach …). In addition, fruits and vegetables are naturally rich in electrolytes, minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium. Electrolytes help us regulate muscle contractions, support nervous system function, and balance our pH levels.
Ever experienced muscle cramps, nausea, or dizziness after exercise? You are likely low on electrolytes. There are many electrolyte drinks and supplements. Check the ingredient labels, many are filled with added sugar, caffeine, and artificial colors and flavors.
A simple way to replenish electrolytes after a sweaty workout, a long day working outside, or a sauna session can be to drink coconut water or add some Celtic or Himalayan salt to your water.
Suffering from more intense muscle cramping, especially at night, or have blood pressure issues, you may need to supplement with specific minerals such as magnesium and or potassium.
Lastly, get moving. Remember your last long airplane ride and how your feet and lower legs swelled? All that sitting and we stop moving fluid around our bodies. Any kind of movement will help circulate the water and electrolytes in our bodies and help get nutrients into our cells.
Overhydration Can Be A Thing Too
One final word of caution. You can over hydrate. This can happen if you drink too much water, cannot excrete enough water, or your body retains too much water. The term for overhydration is hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is most common in endurance athletes, people with kidney or liver disease, and those with heart failure. Signs and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, cramping, seizures, and in extreme cases, loss of consciousness, coma, or death.
Taking the Next Step
So how is your hydration level these days? Do you feel like you are aging well? If not, now is a great time to take a look at your diet and lifestyle in the bigger context of your overall health and wellness. Now go drink a glass of water!