The average human body is made of 50-65% water and helps your body perform a variety of vital functions. This includes enabling blood flow, metabolizing food, flushing toxins from the body, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, and protecting your organs. Our body is also constantly losing water when we sweat, urinate, and breathe. Dehydration occurs when more water is moving out of our bodies than what is being taken in. A drop in 2% body fluid means your body no longer has enough water to carry out its normal functions and is therefore dehydrated. That said, the symptoms of dehydration appear when just 1% of the body’s water is lost. Although the body is excellent at signaling when it needs more water, it is up to you to be more in tune with specific signals so you can effectively recognize your body's queues instead of just the hallmark symptom of thirst.
Dehydration occurs when you are exerting more energy, both physically and mentally. It is commonly caused by heat exposure, too much exercise, diarrhea, vomiting, and decreased water intake. Water is important as it has a significant impact on all bodily functions including cognitive health. In the brain, water helps to create energy, neurons, and hormones; facilitates the transmission of neurons; removes toxins; delivers nutrients; and overall, enables proper brain function.
An easy way to gauge how dehydrated you are is your urine color. If it is concentrated and deeply yellow or amber, you may be dehydrated. Clear urine indicates that you are hydrated. Other ways of testing to see if you’re dehydrated is to pinch your skin and see if there is a lack of elasticity. Mild to moderate dehydration can be reversed by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration requires medical treatment.
HOW MUCH WATER YOU SHOULD BE DRINKING
Thirst itself is an unreliable indicator of dehydration. The feeling of not being thirsty shouldn't be a measure of whether or not you’ve had enough water. By the time you're thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated. A way to prevent this is adhering to the 8 glasses of water a day mantra you've heard since you were a kid. To calculate a more specific number when it comes to how much water you should drink, you just multiply your weight in pounds by 0.08. The result is your personal requirement in eight ounce cups. That said, the amount of water you need to drink fluctuates daily depending on your environment, activity level, and what other food and drink you are consuming.
HYDRATION: TIPS AND TRICKS
Here are some tips to help keep your water consumption on track. You can start with the motto ‘drink consistently, not occasionally.’ Adopting this motto is made easy by just carrying a water bottle with you. Some might find it helpful to set an alarm on their phone for every hour as a reminder to drink. Simply having a water bottle on your desk may be the visual reminder you need to sneak in a few sips. Or, investing in good tasting water could be an effective incentive to drink (if your water tastes unappealing, how are you meant to build up the habit of drinking it? Chlorine or metallic tastes can be a real deterrent).
All in all, if water is close to you, you’ll remember to drink it. Picking the right water is important too. You should aim for waters high in electrolytes (cue Waiakea) that are effective at hydrating and replenishing your body. You should also skip out on caffeinated beverages as they are diuretics and cause you to urinate more.
Being diligent about your daily water consumption pays off in the form of hydrated and glowing skin, improved brain function, detoxification, speedy muscle recovery, and much more. Water is life, so drink up Ohana!