Most of us feel that we don’t need to worry about dehydration unless we’re outside on a hot, sunny day or exercising. And most of us are wrong.
Your body needs a constant supply of water to thrive, yet so many people unknowingly spend their days dehydrated. Even though you may not feel thirsty, a nagging headache, occasional constipation and darker urine are just a few of the common signs that you haven’t gotten enough H2O.
A study published in the Journal of Physiology says that the human brain takes steps to protect itself from the effects of dehydration.
Dehydration reduces blood flow to the brain, but the study found that the brain compensates by increasing the amount of oxygen it takes from the blood.
“We can now see that blood flow to this vital organ is significantly affected by dehydration. But we can also see that this is when the brain kicks in, preserving its own oxygen consumption to ensure it sustains its function,” said Steven Trangmar, a researcher at Brunel University.
This study highlights the importance of proper hydration. Water makes up 60 percent of our bodies and is needed to control body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure.
It’s imperative to remember that thirst isn’t always a reliable gauge of the body’s need for water. According to The Mayo Clinic, the best test is to check the color of your urine. Clear or light colored urine means you are well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber urine signifies dehydration.
The signs of dehydration are:
- Extreme thirst
- Fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
- Dry mouth
- Little or no urination; darker than normal urination
- Sunken eyes
Drinking six to eight glasses of water per day is “recommended” for adults … but by whom? That’s an oft-repeated phrase, but there’s no proof that this was ever shown to be effective by anyone.
The real advice from doctors in the know is to drink enough fluid so that it is in excess of your thirst. Which is a fancy medical way of saying don’t get thirsty in the first place, and drink a lot more than you think you need to.
Good water sources besides pure liquid H2O include fruits, vegetables, and juices without added sugar. Of course there’s tea and coffee, and soup as well. And don’t believe the hype about “electrolyte water” and the like. You should get your minerals from good old food.