Here's a fun fact: If you’re thirsty, you're already dehydrated. That's right. Dehydration triggers us to be thirsty, so if you're feeling parched, you're already considered "dehydrated." You’re not alone, though, if you feel you fall into the bucket of not drinking enough water. 75% of Americans are considered “chronically dehydrated.”
Even a 1-2% loss in fluids can trigger the thirst response. It’s your gas gauge hitting “refuel now," and even this slight deficit in fluids is enough to cause health issues, such as headaches, fatigue and lowered immune function.
Why is water so vital to our health? We are 60% water. Our blood is 85% water. Our brains are 75% water.
Chronic dehydration might make you feel less thirsty over time, which is not a good thing. As your body tries to compensate with a dehydrated state, you may lose that sense of thirst. The rest of your body will also give you telltale signs you’re not getting enough water. These include dry skin, constipation, muscle pain and weakness, chronic fatigue, headaches and more. Not good!
Chronic dehydration can also lower metabolic function, which may affect your weight. Food cravings, in fact, may actually be dehydration masked by chocolate! When we crave food, oftentimes, we are simply thirsty. Dehydration is tough on the liver, which requires the liver to release glycogen and other energy compounds in the body. This can trigger food cravings! So, next time you feel one coming on, try reaching for a glass of water before the candy bar!
If you're chronically low on water, over time, you might notice other digestive issues such as SIBO, low stomach acid, bad breath, malabsorption issues and nutrient deficiencies. Chronic dehydration can impair joints since they require lubrication to function properly. Skin may break out frequently or age prematurely since water is instrumental in the detoxification process. You could even develop kidney stones, heart arrhythmias, brain fog and memory loss. It’s crazy to think that so many health issues could easily be resolved by simply drinking more water.
One key sign of dehydration is a dry mouth. Without ample amounts of water in your body, your mouth can’t produce enough saliva. Everything in our system is a domino effect. With low levels of saliva, bacteria builds up, resulting in bad breath and possibly teeth and gum issues, such as periodontal disease and tooth decay.
Chronic dehydration plays a role in the development of kidney stones. In a 1990 study of 700 participants, 20% were the result of chronic dehydration. In a more recent five-year randomized trial, patients with recurring kidney stones who drank more water had a much greater reduction in kidney stones.
It’s not just water that plays a role in promoting health; it’s also electrolytes. A 2019 study published in the BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine uncovered the importance of not just rehydrating after exercise but replenishing electrolytes to reduce muscle cramping. Participants were given either water with electrolytes or plain water after exercise--those who drank plain water experienced more muscle cramping compared to those who drank the electrolyte water. Electrolytes such as salt and potassium are responsible for helping with multiple functions in the body and are also vital to maintaining homeostasis across many bodily systems.
So, who is more at risk? It turns out it’s men! In a 2020 study published in The Journal of Physiology, middle aged men were more at risk of complications from dehydration. In the study, men’s detection markers that gauge dehydration weren’t sensitive enough to catch dehydration before it impacted the body. Left untreated, dehydration can increase heart rate and cause arrhythmias, putting greater strain on the heart muscle.
Seniors may also be at higher risk of dehydration. Multiple pharmaceuticals such as diuretics, can impact hydration levels and even influence the sense of thirst. Forgetting to drink enough water is also an issue. Dehydration in seniors can result in lowered blood pressure, dizziness, increase in falls, lethargy, confusion and brain fog and more.
So, what’s the right amount of water to drink per day? That’s going to be different for everyone and is determined by many factors. Your size influences the amount of water you drink per day. It is suggested that you should drink 50% of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs., it is recommended to drink approximately 100 ounces of water daily, which is about 3 liters.
But other factors aside from your weight come into play. Do you live in a dry climate or are exposed to artificial indoor climate control (constant air conditioning or heat decreases water concentrations in the atmosphere and can be dehydrating).
Is your diet packed with salty, processed foods? Are you drinking lots of coffee (it’s a diuretic) and alcohol (it dehydrates you)?
Are you physically active? You may need more water and electrolytes that you are losing through sweat.
Are you taking pharmaceuticals that can affect your hydration levels? You’ll need to increase your water and electrolyte intake, particularly if you are taking diuretics.
Drinking more water is something easy to incorporate into a daily regimen toward better health and wellness. The next time you feel a headache coming on, try drinking a full glass of water with a pinch of Himalayan salt. The salt contains vital minerals that can help rebalance electrolytes. You might be surprised at how quickly that headache goes away!
To help maintain balance in your colon, we also recommend taking a daily probiotic, such as our Power Probiotic Daily, which consists of four well-studied strains that increase gut transit time and support the immune system.
If you experience chronic constipation, be sure to drink more water! You might also want to try our therapeutic dose, Power Probiotic 100B, containing the same four well-studied strains as our Power Probiotic Daily with increased CFUs to help you better manage chronic constipation.