The modern Internet reader should know that dehydration is bad for your skin, bad for your health, and will generally make you feel bad. Despite being more educated about everything from health, dehydration is a common problem across all age groups. It’s also relevant as the season changes, as we can sometimes forget to rehydrate when it’s colder outside.
What’s wrong with what nature intended: Eat when hungry; sleep when tired; drink when thirsty?
Sometimes words of wisdom aren’t pragmatic; in the 21st Century, only the aristocracy can sleep when tired. Sometimes it’s simply off the mark. When it comes to hydration, the salient problem is that thirst is often a delayed indicator of dehydration. By the time you feel thirsty, your body is often more dehydrated than is healthy. Also, with age, the sensation of thirst decreases, widening the gap between the signal and the problem. A more reliable way to know if you’re dehydrated is to check how often you need to hit the washroom and the color of your urine. Your urine should be clear to light, and you should be going every 2 to 4 hours.
I find that I’m always thirsty in the morning. What gives?
Many sources will tell you that this is a possible symptom of early type 2 diabetes. If you have other risk factors or symptoms of diabetes (obese, chronic fatigue), you should certainly visit a doctor to check. On the other hand, thirst is also quite natural; after all, you haven’t had a drop of liquid for a long stretch of hours while sleeping. Keep a glass of water close to the bed. Having a glass of water upon rising is a great way to rehydrate and give your brain a kickstart.
I know pop isn’t good for me, but I find water too bland to drink. Any ideas?
Pop is horrible, so that needs to go. These are mostly empty calories, and there are many other reasons why even diet pop should be passed. Even juices should be consumed in moderation—check how many fruits it takes to make juice, but without the feeling of satiation due to the lost fibers. If you find water to be bland, add a bit of flavor—lemon is a classic, but other options like cucumber, strawberries, watermelon, or mint leaves are also a tasty delight.
Will drinking coffee or tea, negate my water intake? I know that caffeine is dehydrating.
Caffeine is indeed dehydrating because it has a diuretic effect (it makes you want to urinate), but it won’t offset the water content in the coffee and tea. So go ahead and enjoy your morning coffee and afternoon tea. Alcohol, on the other hand, is extremely dehydrating. Alcohol costs the liver a tremendous amount of water to flush out, likely more than the water that you gain.
Tips for adequate hydration:
- Start your day with a glass of cold water
- Don’t wait until you’re thirsty
- Water is best; tea/coffee and milk are fine, and then fruit juices in moderation
- Make water access convenient; carry a water bottle
- Flavor the water with fruit and vegetables