Parched throat? Feel like you’re on the cusp of a headache? What actually happens when you become dehydrated: we spoke to expert, Rhiannon Lambert BSc MSc RNutr to find out more…
Thei thirst lagi
Feeling like you need some water? If you’re physically wanting a drink, you’re probably already dehydrated. There’s a lag between the part of your brain that asks for water and your actual hydration levels, but studies show that as little as one percent dehydration can adversely affect your concentration levels and cognitive function (Journal of the American College of Nutrition).
Been to the loo yet?
With no replacement water coming in, your body will do it’s best to hang on to what it’s already got. Which means that next time you need the loo (which probably won’t be for a while), your wee will probably be a dark yellow and have a strong smell. The colouring of your urine is a product of the pigment urochrome, also known as urobilin, and the more water that you drink, the more this colour is diluted, so if you manage to stay hydrated you’ll produce much paler urine.
“We need to keep our body topped up with water as much as possible,” says Rhiannon Lambert, rhitrition. com. “Most of us should aim to drink two litres of water a day, so having a bottle of water on you will help you track your daily water intake.” Apps like Water Drink Reminder, free on the app store, can help you keep an eye on how much water you should be consuming.
Find the juiciest fruit
One of the most underrated and underused ways to keep your water levels topped up is to eat fruit such as watermelon and berries, which have around a 92 percent water content (cpandr.co.uk). “A balanced plate will help you achieve optimum nutrition, be free from cravings and will satisfy your body’s every need,” says Rhiannon. While fruit won’t top you up as quickly, or as efficiently as a good old glass of H20 might do, it will certainly help you stay hydrated during the warmer months, particularly if you feel like you’re heading to the water cooler every five minutes!
Drink more to sweat more
As we sweat, we lose a serious amount of water, so it’s important that we replenish our stocks both during our daily workout, and afterwards. “Exercise offers benefits that can improve nearly every aspect of your health, and regular physical activity can also increase the production of hormones that will make you feel happier and help you sleep better,” says Rhiannon. Drink at regular intervals, around 10-20 minutes during your workout, and if you do an intensive activity, then consider rehydrating with electrolytes and sports drinks. You should aim to drink an additional 500ml every time you exercise.
Dehydration can cause the heart and muscles to work that little bit harder, which means your 4pm brain fog will descend a little earlier than usual and you’ll probably feel a little more irritable. According to a study from the University of Connecticut, dehydration can alter your mind more rapidly than you might suspect. If you’re sensing a dip in your mood, then it won’t be long before you become moderately dehydrated, and other symptoms, such as constipation, dry skin, dizziness, dry mouth and a weak pulse, will start to surface.
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