If you were to list your priorities for the day in order of importance, where would drinking water fall?
If you’re like us, staying hydrated would fall somewhere between falling into a Facebook hole (oh hi, wedding photos of a girl we went to high school with) and calling our mom back (sorry). Well, it’s time we move it up the list because dehydration might be at the root of everything that’s annoying you today.
“The levels of dehydration are categorized bythe percentage of your body weight lost in water,” says registered dietitian Catherine Howard, explaining that the higher the percentage, the worse you’re going to feel—and the less you’re going to be able to get done.
So, if you’re having a rough day…then you might be dehydrated.Though that sentence should be read in Jeff Foxworthy’s voice, dehydration is nothat in mind here are some very real and serious ways dehydration may be affecting your day that will hopefully inspire you to fill up your reusable bottle and start sipping to prevent dehydration.
One, two, feel like a shrew
“The first one to two percent of your body weight loss in water leads to them done like thirst but also fatigue, weakness, vague discomfort—when you body just doesn’t feel right—and loss of appetite,” Howardwe’re not able to concentrate at work, most of turn to caffeine as a means for refocusing our brains, but water might be a better choice, at least at first.
“If you’re feeling foggy and not so alert and you respond by drinking caffeine, that could potentially perpetuate the dehydration because it prompts you to urinate more,” Howard explains adding that coffee also has a diuretic effect “So, you have more fluid loss as a result of consuming more caffeine.”
We all know that water isn’t going to replace coffee in our lives, but try drinking a cup of water with for every cup of coffee you drink to counteract the fluid loss.
Three, four, life’s a chore
“When you’re down three to four percent of your body where there might be things like dry mouth and flushed skin,” Howard explains. “You might also experience apathy—not caring at all—and impatience. So a little bit of personality change and a sense of urgency because your body is reacting to changes in your blood pressure as well and your brain perceives that as more of a serious threat. So you might be responding to the things around you in a different way.”
This impatience can also lead to your misinterpreting what your body is telling you.“Your brain can perceive thirst as if it was hunger,” says Howard. “It can be hard to distinguish between the two.”
When your hungry you might feel your stomach growth and an empty sensation in your stomach, but you might also feel symptoms that are very similar to the symptoms of thirst. “Like that foggy feeling and the inability to focus and concentrate,” Howard continues. “And oftentimes were more excited to get something to eat because the brain had a lot more of a response, like a serotonin response that makes you feel good when you eat something that you might not necessarily get just by correcting thirst.”
When you feel those symptoms drinking water is a great first response. Then if you still think your hungry, go get something to eat.
Five, six, brain is bricks
“At five to six percent of your body weight lost, you might experience difficulty concentrating, get headaches, and have more irritability,” says Howard. “Some people feel sleepy and they might have a hard time regulating their temperature. And this is where we’d expect to see increased respiratory rate or breathing faster. Your lungs are trying to compensate for the lack of water.”
If you’ve recently increased your physical activity, your lungs compensating for the lack of water can be especially important to account for.
“When people are increasing their physical activity, they’re going to need a little bit more water,” Howard explains. “When your heart rate is up, your lungs are exchanging more oxygen and more carbon dioxide and your lungs do a lot of fluid regulation. You don’t need a huge amount more, but because you’re increasing how much you sweat and how much you’re breathing, you’ll need more.”
Seven, eight, can’t walk straight.
“Seven to 10 percent of your body weight lost is typically beyond what you’d experience in a typical day without being able to put your finger on it.” Howard explains. “You’d feel dizzy, your muscles might be spasming, you could experience a loss of balance, and feel delirious. At that point, some people collapse. This usually occurs if you were experiencing severe vomiting and diarrhea for an extended period of time.”If you get to this point, you should definitely drink more water, but also see a doctor.
Tips and tricks
OK, we get it, drink more water and life will be better. And yet, we use every excuse we can to avoid it. From “I don’t like the taste,” to “I can’t leave my desk right now,” to “I forgot,” if there’s a reason not to drink up, many of seem to find, with that in mind, here are some tips and tricks that might help you make hydration a regular part of your day.
Change the taste
“Some people don’t like the taste of water on its own, they’re just not interested,” Howard explains. “So by changing the flavor of the water by adding things like frozen berries or cucumber, or a squeeze of lemon to a reusable water bottle and shaking it up, then you’re changing the flavor a little bit.
Check your temperature
Temperature can affect how much water you drink. If you find you drink more water if it’s really cold, make sure you’re filling your bottle regularly from a chilled source or add ice. If you find you’re more likely to sip at room temperature, fill your bottle with that. Figure out what you like and go from there.
If you don’t trust yourself to remember to drink up, let technology be your assistant. Phone apps like Watermindand plugins like Water Remindergive you no excuse not to take a sip.
Keep it visible
“Just make sure it’s visible,” says Howard. “Make sure that your water bottle is something that your seeing and prompted to think about.”