We’ve all heard that the human body is primarily composed of water and that we need to consume a certain amount in order to survive. Your muscles and kidneys are composed of 73% water; your blood is composed of 83% water; your lungs are 90% water and your brain is made up of 76% water. We lose water when we breathe and daily through urine and sweat so replenishment is crucial.
Many of us have been told to drink between 6-8 glasses of water a day but when I ask patients about their water intake, I am told 2 cups is the daily average. Generally, males need to consume 3 liters (12 cups) per day and females need to consume 2.2 liters (9 cups) per day for optimal hydration. Failing to consume the recommended amount can lead to mild dehydration manifesting in multiple symptoms.
10 Signs You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
1. Your Urine is Dark Yellow
This is often the first sign that you are not drinking enough water. Generally, urine should be a light yellow-amber colour. When a person does not consume enough water, the kidneys excrete a “higher concentration of waste products in the urine, including dead blood cells, toxins, proteins and other products that need to be removed from the body”, resulting in darker urine.
You may also notice darker urine after consuming certain medications, B-Vitamins, beets, blackberries, asparagus or food colouring. If you notice a temporary change in urine colour, first consider if you’ve consumed something that would alter the colour of your urine. Next, increase your water intake and observe if your urine colour becomes lighter. If your urine stays dark for a prolonged period of time, it could be a sign of more serious health concerns such as hepatitis or gallstones.
2. Your Urine Output is Reduced
Most people urinate between 6-7 times within a 24-hour period. When you don’t drink enough water, there is less fluid available to replace the fluids being excreted from the body. The kidneys attempt to retain as much fluid as possible to prevent dehydration. If you urinate less than 6 times a day, consider your water intake and increase if necessary.
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation, and constipation can often be resolved by increasing water intake. If you are not fully hydrated, your body will try to absorb water from wherever it can, including your colon. A sufficient amount of water in the large intestine is crucial for soft, easy-to-pass stools. Naturally, a lack of water will lead to harder stools that are difficult to pass.
To prevent or treat constipation, ensure you are consuming adequate amounts of water in addition to increased fiber found in fruit and vegetables. Constipation can also be the result of physical inactivity, hypothyroidism, intestinal inflammation and dysbiosis, food sensitivities and stress. If you are drinking adequate water, consider other causes of constipation.
4. Your skin is dry and wrinkles are more defined
Most women rely on expensive moisturizers to keep their body soft and smooth. Some pay high prices for procedures to reduce and eliminate fine lines and wrinkles. Prior to spending money, increase your water intake. According to Dr. Diana Howard, dehydration can lead to irritated, inflamed, itching and sensitive skin. In severe cases, skin can flake and scale or become severely red with cracks and bleeds. Simultaneously, when your skin loses moisture, the cells shrivel, causing wrinkles to appear more defined and making the skin look older. The best way to revitalize your skin is to nourish it with water.
5. Hunger and Weight Gain
The body is so intrinsically smart but has a glitch – it does not know the difference between hunger and thirst. The hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for regulating hunger and thirst, often gets confused, causing hunger pangs in response to thirst. Reaching for a snack instead of a glass of water leads to excess caloric intake and weight gain.
If you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight, make sure you are consuming adequate amounts of water. If you feel hungry, grab a glass of water before going for a snack and wait 10-15 minutes to see if the hunger has passed or if it’s still present. If you are still feeling hungry then it is true hunger and time for you to eat.
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