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Are You Dehydrated, but Just Don’t Know It?

by Emy Breitenwischer, B.S. Food Science & Nutrition, Concentration in Dietetics

With the summer months coming up, people love to spend time outdoors soaking up the sun. Whether it’s lying by the pool or working up a good sweat exercising outside, exposure to high temperatures (mix in some humidity) can lead to electrolyte imbalance, including dehydration. According to research, about 60-75% of Americans don’t drink enough water daily. So how much should you be drinking each day? Aim for half your body weight in ounces (if you’re 140 lbs, drink around 70 fluid ounces/day).

Remember, thirst and dry mouth are not the first signs of dehydration; by this point, your body’s cells are already craving water. A good rule of thumb is to drink enough that you urinate at least every 3-4 hours & that you’re urine is a pale yellow (not dark yellow, but not clear). Typically, dehydration mostly affects athletes, people that perform manual labor outside, children, those with GI issues and the elderly. However, if you’re on antibiotics, hormonal pills, diuretics, blood pressure medicine, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to up your water intake.

Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University studied the effects of water balance & cognitive function and found that losing as little as 1-2% of body water can impair cognitive performance (critical thinking skills, attentiveness, memory). Muscles within your digestive tract also need enough water to contract properly, so imbalances in water or electrolyte levels can result in diarrhea, constipation, cramping or hemorrhoids. Water is not only vital for transporting nutrients, regulating body temperature and lubricating joints & internal organs, but also may facilitate weight management and much more. So drink up, friends!

TYPES OF DEHYDRATION

Hyponatremic: loss of electrolytes, mostly sodium (too much water)

Hypernatremic: loss of water (too much sodium)

Isonatremic: equal loss of both water & electrolytes

SEVERITY

Mild: loss of 2-3% of body’s total fluids

Moderate: loss of about 5% of total fluids

Severe: loss of about 10% of total fluids (considered an emergency)

COMMON SYMPTOMS

Headaches · Thirst or Dry Mouth · Lack of Energy or Fatigue · Muscle Weakness or Spasms · Dry Skin · Dizziness · Decreased Urination · Constipation · Weight Gain · Trouble Concentrating · Digestive Issues

NATURAL TREATMENTS TO COMBAT SYMPTOMS

Drink Enough Water Daily – at least half your body weight in ounces, if not more during summer months

Eat More Hydrating Foods – coconut water, celery, watermelon, cucumber, bell peppers, citrus fruits, carrots, papaya, fresh juices or soups; these have a high water content & contain valuable electrolytes

Be Smart when Exercising – aim for about 1.5-2.5 cups for shorter workouts & add about 3 extra cups for longer workouts (longer than 1 hour); avoid sugary sports drinks & opt for something natural instead like coconut water

Consume Sea Salt – sprinkle a little Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt on your food because when you drink water, you also need sodium & potassium; Sea Salt helps balance your water & potassium levels due to its sodium content, alkalizes the body & enhances hydration

Posted on Thursday, April 13, 2017 by 1444Angel -