Here is a simple visual. Not drinking enough water is the equivalent of washing a whole sink of dirty dishes with 1/4 cup of water. This results in the kidneys having to work very hard. They will only do this for so many years before they finally break. Then kidney dialysis or transplant is required just to sustain life.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- constant hunger
- mental fogginess
- joint pain
- weight gain
- high blood pressure
Many beverages that people reach for when they’re thirsty are actually mild diuretics, meaning they pull water from your body tissues and are then excreted. This includes anything with caffeine such as most sodas, coffee, and tea. This compounds the problem of dehydration by causing even more fluid loss.
For every caffeinated beverage consumed, an equal amount of water or non-caffeinated beverage needs to be taken in to counteract the dehydration effects of the caffeine. In essence, they cancel each other out and neither should be included in the total intake for the day.
The thirst mechanism doesn’t always cause feelings of thirstiness until severe dehydration is already underway. Many people report they never feel thirsty.
A subtle sign of dehydration that most aren’t aware of is feelings of hunger. If you feel hungry but have eaten recently or are trying to lose weight, drink an 8 ounce or larger glass of water and wait to see if the hunger subsides. Most often, it does.
The goal amount of daily water intake is one half of your body weight, in ounces. For example, a 150 pound person would need to drink 75 ounces of water a day. That would be 2 quarts plus about another cup. If spending time outside sweating or the weather is very warm, then even more water is needed. See two recipes below for making your own sport and health drinks.
This may sound like a lot if you’re not used to drinking much water so here are some tips for getting 8 or more cups per day. Use purified or bottled water. Tap water has too many chemicals and chlorine.
- Pre-measure a goal amount of water for the day. At the end of the day, the container should be empty. This gives you a “visual” on how much you’re drinking, or not drinking.
- Incorporate water into your meals with watermelon, soups, or any other foods high in water.
- If you don’t like water make your own flavored water by adding strawberries, crushed mint leaves, cucumber slices, lemon, lime or orange slices, or an herbal tea bag. Let it sit for a few hours or make a quart or sport bottle full the night before. Pouring heated water over the add-ins and then refrigerating will pull more flavor out into the water.
- Drink a glass of water before each meal. This will keep you from overeating in case you start your meal in a dehydrated state, as well as the filling effect of the water. Drinking water before a meal instead of with a meal is preferred because it assists with digestion but doesn’t dilute the digestive fluids which slows digestion, causing a bloated feeling.
- Vary the temperature of your drinks. Have warm herbal tea. Make a quart of herbal tea for the day and store in the fridge. Hibiscus, ginger, or mint are great to start with. Enjoy over ice anytime for a refreshing change. Have a decaf coffee, iced or hot, with a natural sweetener.
- Whenever you urinate, let that be a reminder to prepare and start drinking the next 2 cups of non-caffeinated beverage that you choose. Your urine should be a light straw color. Any darker is a sign your kidneys are struggling.
Keep yourself feeling in tiptop shape all day by keeping up with your water intake. When you drink purposefully for the sake of getting your necessary fluids for the day, unnecessary hunger, fatigue, and headaches can be warded off before they ever start.
It turns out that two tablespoons of lemon juice contain almost exactly the amount of potassium in 8 oz of a typical sports drink. So, if you want to make your own low-carb sports drink, it’s quite easy and the cost is minimal. Tastes a lot better too! Just mix together:
- 1 cup (8 oz) purified water (not carbonated) or coconut water (not coconut milk)
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- pinch of salt (Himalayan or sea salt- contains 50 or more trace minerals the body requires for good health)
- flavoring and sweetener to taste (splash of fruit juice, juice concentrate or herbal tea and a natural sweetener such as honey, sugar, or stevia)
Apple Cider Vinegar (raw) contains enzymes and promotes healthy bacteria in the gut. It also helps with weight loss by regulating blood sugar.
- 1 cup purified water
- 1 – 2 tsp raw unfiltered Apple Cider vinegar (the cloudy kind, Bragg is a good brand)
- Splash of juice, to taste
- Sweetener such as honey, molasses or maple syrup, to taste