Many people pay little attention to their hydration levels. Water hydrates ligaments and tendons, keeps lubrication flowing to the joints to prevent injury, helps with digestion and even revives skin texture. Here’s what everyone needs to know about the signs that point to a lack of hydration, as well as ideas for fixing the problem and ensuring it doesn’t recur!
5 Signs You’re Dehydrated
While thirst remains the No. 1 bodily clue that someone needs a drink, oftentimes, dehydration occurs well before the person even feels thirsty. Keep an eye out for any of the following:
- Skin changes. Those experiencing dry, peeling or crepey-looking skin benefit from upping their hydration levels. As a bonus, plump, hydrated skin makes people look years younger!
- Mood changes. While dehydration alone won’t cause major depressive disorder, not getting enough water does exacerbate mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Water helps to regulate brain function.
- Sick stomach and headaches. The human brain normally floats peacefully in a bath of saline water, but when those water levels drop, nausea and headaches may, and often do, occur.
- Back pain. The human spine consists of a thick cord of nerves surrounded by bones and disks. The disks between each vertebra cushion the bones of the back, allowing them to twist, bend and move freely. When a person becomes too dehydrated, these disks shrink in size, leading to pain, inflammation and even herniated disks.
- Digestion problems. The entire digestive tract needs adequate lubrication to move food through. Insufficient hydration can slow or stop this process, causing abdominal pain and constipation.
5 Ways to Stay Hydrated
Health care professionals recommend people drink at least 64 ounces of water daily. It’s important to note though that this number usually increases if you’re athletic, live in a hotter climate or have a larger body size. So, how do you get all that water? Here are a few starter tips:
- Filter it. Some people don’t like to drink water because they can taste the local mineral content in it. Invest in a good water filtration system for your faucet, or a water pitcher or water bottle with a built-in filter.
- Add some sparkly. Those who find plain water tedious may wish to opt for a sparkling variety. Yes, some commercial varieties come flavored, but you can eschew artificial flavors and sugar substitutes by making mocktail creations at home for use during the workweek.
- Try going herbal. Again, if plain water just doesn’t motivate you to grab a glass on the reg, try working teas into your routine! You can try different varieties of iced and hot tea, but stick to unsweetened for the best health results.
- Hide water bottles everywhere. When there’s literally water, water everywhere, there’s no excuse for not taking a drink! Store bottles in your car, bike drink holder, purse or briefcase and near your bed.
- Don’t booze it (or at least limit it). Try to limit alcohol intake, as alcohol is well-known for causing dehydration. If you’re out with friends, try alternating between water and a boozy beverage. This controls the senses far better and quiets the trio of nasty dwarfs who normally pound away at the foreheads of the overindulgent each Saturday morning!
Staying properly hydrated leads to more positive health outcomes than can be listed in one article. Keep a journal of the changes experienced when making the effort to stay hydrated. Chances are, sensations like feeling fully energized and glowing, acne- and wrinkle-free skin will make the list!