Your body constantly loses fluid through your breath, sweat glands, urine and bowel movements. To function properly, you must replace lost fluids and stay properly hydrated. Luckily, you have a built-in mechanism to let you know when you need more water; it’s called thirst! However, by the time you feel thirsty, your body is already about 1-2% dehydrated. Additionally, the older you get, the less your thirst mechanism works, so it is important to learn your body’s other signals that it’s time to rehydrate.
Signs of early dehydration:
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Dry mouth, lips, eyes or skin
Infrequent urination (less than 3-4 times per day)
Hunger soon after eating
How much should you be drinking?
There are many published scientific studies on how much water we need. And, guess what? They draw many different conclusions. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. The true answer depends on your health, your activity level and even the climate where you live!
According to the Mayo Clinic, a general guideline you can follow is:
About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
This can be water, other fluids you drink and even food that contains water, which accounts for about 20% of your total.
The urine test:
Another way to tell if you are drinking enough water is by checking the color of your urine. If you are well hydrated, your urine should be clear to light yellow in color. On average, you should be urinating 6-8 times per day. A yellow to dark yellow color of urine may mean that you are dehydrated.
Signs of chronic dehydration:
Joint pain or stiffness
Fever and chills
Think of your body as an engine, needing water to keep all of it’s parts lubricated and functioning at their highest levels. Over time, a lack of water will cause your engine to break down. The solution: stay hydrated and keep your body running on all cylinders! You’ll feel better and avoid many potential health issues.