About 60% of the human body is made of water. We all know that being hydrated is important, especially for Arizona desert dwellers, but many people are still chronically dehydrated. Some symptoms of dehydration are obvious like increased thirst, dry mouth, dry skin, headaches and constipation. But, there are some symptoms of dehydration that are not as well-known:
Fatigue: Even mild dehydration can affect energy levels. This can be a common contributor to daytime fatigue. Drinking a glass of water right when you wake up can help combat fatigue.
Hunger and food cravings: When your body does not have enough water, it can be difficult for the liver to make glycogen, which keeps blood sugar steady in between meals. This can lead to hunger and cravings especially for sweets. If you get excess hunger or food cravings, try opting for a glass of water before reaching for sugary, carb-rich snacks.
Brain function: Mild chronic dehydration can contribute to mood swings, confusion, anxiety and reduced concentration. A study done by the Journal of Human Brain Mapping in 2011 showed that dehydration can actually cause shrinkage of the brain! Keep a water bottle at your desk and refill often to help increase your productivity.
Back pain or joint pain: One of the roles of water in the body is to lubricate and cushion the joints. If water is lacking, that can lead to increase in muscle and joint pain.
Weight gain: Chronic dehydration can actually cause weight gain. Dehydration affects the body’s ability to burn fat, promotes excessive calorie consumption and slows down metabolism.
To make sure you stay hydrated, have a water bottle with you wherever you go. Take frequent sips throughout the day. Make sure you have a source of electrolytes, which can get “flushed out” of the body easily by drinking large amounts of purified water (it removes the minerals). The amount of water you should drink is not a one-size-fits-all quantity – people have different needs based on activity level, weather, body weight, climate, etc. Check with your doctor to discuss what you can do to optimize your hydration and your health.