Nurturing your skin, organs, and mood may be just a morning glass of water away. Most people don’t drink enough water and since we are 60 percent water, it’s important to stay on top of it, because some crazy things happen to your body when you’re dehydrated. The whole “eight-ounce, eight glasses” of water per day rule has been left in the past after a 2004 recommendation was released. Apparently, someone misread the 1945 Food and Nutrition Board’s report — and we’ve all been slugging H2O the wrong way ever since. The new recommendation is a little more lenient and advised people to “let their thirst be their guide,” since even coffee, fruits, and vegetables regulate water balance and hydration.
When the loss of body fluids outweighs the intake, dehydration occurs. Since we lose water through water vapor in our breath, sweat, urine, and stool, drinking water is essential to balancing out your body. Your normal functions, like lubrication for your eyes, eliminating toxins, and digestion are all thanks to the miracle of H2O. Without it, everything is imbalanced and proper performance is reduced.
Dehydration happens when you’ve lost too much water in your body without replacing it, preventing your body to perform its normal functions. Mild dehydration can easily be treated but if it reaches extreme levels, it can be life-threatening and will require immediate medical attention. A professor, hydration researched, and head in the kinesiology department at the University of Connecticut, Researcher Lawrence E. Armstrong from the University of Connecticut said in a report, “The entire amount of water in a woman’s body may be 38 to 45 liters, and for a man, 42 to 48. Dehydration means that for a period of time, you have lost part of that water. It’s a matter of whole-body balance.”
So what happens when that balance is off? A bunch of things. Here are five signs that you need to drink a glass. Right. Now.
1. Bad breath
Yup, this is a clear sign of dehydration. Your saliva has antibacterial properties and if you’re dehydrated, your body isn’t going to be making enough saliva to keep your breath fresh. According to Dr. Jeffrey Rappaport, the CEO of Afora, “Bad breath is the number one indicator of dehydration, along with difficulty swallowing and a swollen tongue.”
2. Dry skin
Dry skin and nails are due to the lack of moisture according to the International Dermal Institute. They go on to mention that even oily skin can be dehydrated. Feelings of roughness, tautness, flaking, and redness are signs of being dehydrated. Instead of slathering on more moisturizer, maybe just take a drink of water.
3. Lack of urination
If haven’t peed in a few hours, it’s not normal. The worst and best thing about being hydrated is that you definitely have to urinate every 20 minutes. This isn’t a joke. So while it may be annoying, just remember that not peeing is not healthy. Flushing out toxins is essential to your every day bodily function. Another sign is the color: dark yellow urine is your body saying, “water me!”
4. Always hungry
Feeling hungry, constantly? Sometimes you’re not actually in need of food but you’re simply just thirsty. The spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Alissa Rumsey, said, “Mild dehydration is often masked as feelings of hunger, when really your body just needs fluids.” Basically, your brain is confused (specifically, in the hypothalamus), and it can mix up what the body needs. Sometimes your body doesn’t need that bagel, it just wants some water.
5. Muscle cramps
Associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Texas in Houston, John Higgins, says that muscle cramps are caused from the “pure heat effect on the muscles.” And as “muscles work harder and harder, they can seize up from the heat itself.” If you’re feeling cramping after working out or just generally throughout the day, please, for the love of the rivers and the seas, pour yourself a glass!
If you have any extreme signs of dehydration, seek emergency medical attention, especially if you’re outside in a hot area. Stay in the shade, stop any physical activity, and drink a cold glass of water. But if you start to remember to check in and make sure you’re getting all the fluids you need, that shouldn’t be an issue. Plus, your skin will be glowing in no time.