Whether you realize it or not, you lose water all day and all night — some when you sweat or cry, some more when you pee, some even with each breath you take. Therefore, it is recommended that you drink water consistently throughout the day in order to maintain hydration levels and prevent early dehydration symptoms (more on that below).
According to Dr. Britain and functional medicine expert Erika Schwartz, MD, your body does a really good job of warning you not to drink enough water or to put yourself at risk for mild dehydration. In addition, dehydration reduces blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which in turn causes inflammation. Therefore, not drinking enough water can cause headaches, fog or confusion, fatigue, mood swings, dizziness and lightheadedness.
In addition, Dr. Schwartz adds that as water plays an important role in lubricating your joints and muscles, lack of water can also cause joint pain and stiffness or cramps in your muscles and joints. Some other signs are dry mouth and skin, increased thirst and darker, more concentrated urine (and fewer of them).
The basic package here? Keeping all of these symptoms in mind is vital to recognizing that you are not drinking enough water. For example, if you start to feel a worrying muscle cramp or headache when you are in the middle of a day for a run or beach, do not pop an Advil and move on. Take a break, think about whether or not you have consumed enough fluids in the last few hours and give your body the hydration it needs.
How much water is ideal for daily consumption?
While it is important to listen to your body and drink when you are thirsty, the US National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine have determined that adequate fluid intake for a healthy adult living in a temperate climate is about 11.5 cups a day. for women and 15.5 cups for men. This can change depending on how much you exercise, the environment in which you live and other health conditions. (Dr. Schwartz goes so far as to recommend drinking 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water.) Simply put, you should drink water often and always when you are thirsty.
Keep in mind, however, that drinking water is not the only way to stay adequately hydrated. High-water fruits and vegetables are also a great way to keep your systems in top shape. Produce as broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, watermelon and grapes are all rich in H2O.
TL; DR: Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Brittain both say that your body knows how to tell you not to drink enough water. The trick is to make sure you hear it.
Dietitian’s Guide to the Most Moisturizing Foods:
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