Your body is made up of 60% water. So it should come as no surprise just how important proper hydration is to your health. Drinking enough water helps regulate your body temperature, aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates and protein, helps you urinate to flush waste, maintains saliva (key for fighting both cavities and keeping breath fresh), and is essential in joint function. Oh, and your brain needs it to keep you sharp, too.
Makes sense then that when you don’t get enough, you’re apt to feel absolutely terrible, physically and mentally.
The Dangers of Dehydration
In the short term, dehydration can affect your cognitive capabilities, making it tougher to focus, points out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That fuzzy-headed feeling might make it tougher to get work done, which is why refilling your water bottle will keep you on top of your game at work.
For your body, though, long-term consequences of dehydration include a sluggish digestive system and an increased risk of constipation. With sweatier summertime temperatures, you may also be more likely to develop kidney stones if you’re dehydrated, according to Mayo Clinic.
While it’s easy to become mildly dehydrated if you’re not drinking enough at your desk, it’s unlikely that you’ll find yourself in a dangerous spot. However, if you’re outside exercising on a hot day, you can become dangerously dehydrated, which can affect your heart rate, breathing, and in extreme cases, lead to shock, notes the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Signs You Aren’t Drinking Enough Water
After you pee, look in the bowl! Checking the color of your urine is a reliable way to know if you’re well hydrated or not. Normal urine color looks pale yellow, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and that color will indicate that you’re drinking enough water. However, darker yellow urine indicates dehydration.
Other symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, a reduction in urination or sweating, dry skin, fatigue, and dizziness.
3 Tips to Boost Hydration
The idea that you should drink more water throughout the day seems so simple — but it’s a habit that can be tough to master. It’s recommended that adults consume between 91 and 125 ounces of water per day, but the exact amount depends on your age, sex, activity level, and other health conditions. Here are four things to try:
#1 Find What You Like
Water is not just water. Water can be cold or room temperature. It can contain ice or no ice. Be carbonated or still. Have some fruit flavor or taste plain. What’s key is discovering how you “take your water” so that you’re more likely to take a sip.
Also, while water is the best choice, but tea, soup, and milk can also be hydrating.
#2 Pick a Bottle or Cup
The right water bottle or cup can — no kidding — get you excited to drink. There’s no lack of fancy bottles to choose from. So you can get one in your favorite color, with a print you adore, a smart bottle that glows at you to remind you to take a sip or one that has motivational messages. Think of it as making an investment in your health.
#3 Enjoy Hydrating Foods
One of the great secrets of hydration? Foods count toward the amount you need. And some fruits and vegetables are made up of 90% (or more) water. It’s just another reason to reach for fresh foods rather than ultra-refined processed carbs that tend to be dry and come from a bag or box.
These foods can quench your thirst — and are delicious, too. Try fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, oranges, grapes, and tomatoes. And vegetables, such as cucumbers, leafy greens like lettuce and spinach, celery, broccoli, green beans, and snap peas. These are all water-rich foods that happen to be great nutritious options to add to your diet.
The Bottom Line
No matter what time of year it is, proper hydration is essential, and during the warmer months of the year or when you’re active, you probably notice that you’re thirstier. Make sure that you’re sipping regularly and consuming hydrating foods so that you’re urinating regularly (and make sure it looks light yellow). Making hydration a priority can pay off big time, helping you get through the day, riding on good energy, and a peppy mood.