Dehydration is a condition that occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in, leading to an insufficient amount of water to carry out its essential functions. Not many people realise just how much water our body releases all the time. For example, did you know that the simple act of breathing dehydrates our bodies? Excessive sweating, inadequate fluid intake, vomiting, diarrhoea, or certain medical conditions can cause dehydration too. Understanding dehydration and its effects on the body is crucial for maintaining good health and well-being.
When the body is dehydrated, it struggles to maintain its normal functions. As water is lost, blood volume decreases, meaning the heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body; this can lead to a drop in blood pressure, causing dizziness, weakness and fatigue. Dehydration also affects the body's ability to regulate temperature, making it more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.
One of the first signs of dehydration is feeling thirsty, but other symptoms may include dark yellow urine, dry mouth, headache, dry skin and rapid heartbeat. Severe dehydration can lead to more serious complications, such as kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and confusion or unconsciousness.
Preventing dehydration is essential for overall health. The most straightforward method is to ensure an adequate intake of fluids throughout the day. On average, individuals should aim to consume about 8-10 cups (64-80 ounces) of water daily, but this may vary depending on climate, physical activity and individual health conditions. Water, fruits, vegetables, and clear soups also contribute to hydration.
To stay hydrated throughout the day, here are some helpful tips:
- Carry a water bottle: Having a refillable water bottle with you at all times makes it easier to sip water regularly, whether you are at work, at home, or on the go.
- Set reminders: Use phone alarms or apps to remind you to drink water regularly, especially if you have a busy schedule that may cause you to forget.
- Eat water-rich foods: Include fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as watermelon, cucumber, oranges and lettuce, in your diet.
- Monitor urine colour: Check the colour of your urine; if it's light yellow or pale straw-coloured, it indicates good hydration, whereas darker yellow may mean you need to drink more water.
- Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol: These can increase fluid loss and worsen dehydration.
Drinking ionized alkaline water can be a beneficial addition to your hydration routine. Ionized water has a higher pH level, making it more alkaline, which can offer various health benefits. It's reported to have better hydrating properties due to its smaller water clusters, which promote more efficient absorption. Moreover, ionized alkaline water is rich in antioxidants, which can help neutralise harmful free radicals in the body.
Embracing healthy water drinking and lifestyle habits are essential for overall well-being. Maintaining proper hydration and adopting positive lifestyle choices contribute to increased energy, better mental focus, and improved physical performance, leading to a healthier and happier life.