- Don't wait being thirsty before drinking water.
- Doctors say thirst is already a sign of mild dehydration.
- Up to 70% of our cells are made up of water.
- Know some basic hydration tips, but also know how not to over do it.
Dubai: Are you thirsty? Then you’remost probably already dehydrated. Thirst is a survival instinct. If you’re working in hot weather, doctors advise that water must be consumed every 15 to 20 minutes. Dehydration is the absence of a sufficient amount of water in your body — when your body loses more fluid than you drink. Chronic dehydration, they warn, could ruin your key body organs, including your brain.
Some basic water facts to know: Water is life. All living things require water. Every day, you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements, which is why it’s important to continue to take in water throughout the day.
So, for your body to function at its best, you must replenish its water supply — with water. Other options would be beverages and foods that contain water. Dr. Shailesh Uniyal, Dermatologist at Zulekha Hospital, gives a rule of thumb: drink water — from 2.5 to 3 litres, if you’re an adult — per day.
Yes, drink water — even if you don’t feel thirsty
It’s a fact of life: Every cell in our body needs hydration. Drinking enough water is vital for keeping hydrated and for general health, say experts.
“Every cell of our body has 70% water,” Dr. Uniyal, Dermatologist at Zulekha Hospital. “Hydration is important especially in summer because of excessive perspiration,” added Dr Uniyal, a fellow of the American International Academy of Dermatology.
Long-term effects of constant dehydration
"One of the reasons you should not wait to feel thirsty is that as your body ages, it is not as able to send thirst signals to your brain when you are dehydrated,” explained Dr Foroozan Khezri, Specialist Urologist, Medcare Hospital, Al Safa, Dubai.
“When we feel thirsty the body is already dehydrated then we receive signal of thirsty, and dehydration cause headaches, stone formation in the kidney and weakness,” Dr Khezri added. “However, remember it is also possible to drink too much water.”
The best way to tell if you are getting enough water is the colour of your urine. “If your urine is colourless or only slightly yellow each day, you are probably getting enough liquid,” says Dr Khezri.
When should you drink water?
Dr Muhammed Shafeeq Kalladi, Pulmonology Specialist, Aster Hospital- Qusais, Dubai, said not feeling thirsty is “not a reliable indication” that you don’t need water. "If we are accustomed to consuming water throughout the day. we will be keeping the body systems in perfect conditions. Not feeling thirsty is not a reliable indication that you don’t need water,” said Dr Kalladi.
Why do we need to drink so much water?
“Our body uses water in all its cells, tissues and organs. The intestines, kidneys and brain function properly when there is enough fluid to purify the system,” Dr Kalladi explained.
“If we wait until we are thirsty before we drink water, it is possible that even if nothing deadly happens to us, the body will not perform its function perfectly. In addition, by accommodating the toxins we can get poor health,” he added.
“The first thing to know is that water is not to quench our thirst. Thirst is a sign that we are dehydrated. Our body loses water through breathing, sweating and digestion. So it is very important to re-hydrate.”
What happens when you don't drink enough water?
Dehydration could trigger mild to severe issues, depending on how bad is your water intake. Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of lack of drinking enough water. Slugging bowel moment in another issue. Dehydration also shows in the form of dry skin. Fatigue and brain fog, leading to plummeting energy levels is another downside of lack of water.
What happens when you drink too much water?
When you drink too much water, you may experience water poisoning, intoxication, or a disruption of brain function. This happens when there's too much water in the cells (including brain cells), causing them to swell. When the cells in the brain swell they cause pressure in the brain, among others.
Among young children and babies
Young kids and babies can’t always tell you what’s going on with their bodies. Among the signs of dehydration to look out for:
- Dry tongue
- No tears when crying
- No wet diapers for 3 hours
- When severe, mouths will be dry and eyes and cheeks may look sunken
- Heavy breathing and weak pulse are other signs
How to avoid heat-related stress:
- Use appropriate clothing, preferrably cotton.
- A well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
- A lot of water and enough sleep at night.
- Regular work breaks when doing work in the open are imperative.
- Avoid exercising outdoors when the weather is hot and humid.
- Ensure adequate hydration with water and electrolytes.
- If working in hot weather, water must be consumed every 15 to 20 minutes.
- Avoid walking for long periods outdoors during mid-day.
- Pregnant women and elders should avoid heat exposure and walking under the open sun.
- Children playing outdoors need plenty of fluids.
What are the signs of inadequate hydration?
- Poor appetite
- Heat intolerance
- Kidney stones
- Drop in blood pressure
- The most common cause of water loss from the body is excessive sweating.
- So keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, even before you begin your activity.
- If there’s an indication of thirst, you must drink water.
- Experts say you must drink water within 20 minutes from the moment you feel thirsty, at most half an hour.
- Drink a substantial quantity of water when you feel thirsty.
- When you need water, and when you’re thirsty and you don’t drink, it may cause damage to the system.
- If you drink enough water, the body will choose how much to take, and how much to reject.
- The body loses water primarily by excreting it in urine from the kidneys. Depending on the body's needs, the kidneys may excrete less than a pint or up to several gallons (about half a litre to over 10 liters) of urine a day.
When is it healthy to drink water: before bed or when you wake up?
There’s no right time to drink water. Ideally, water should be consumed throughout the day to keep the body hydrated.
Drinking water at night has advantages and disadvantages. It promotes sleep, improve metabolism, cleanses the body, and helps maintain body temperature. But drinking lots of water before bed may not be a good idea because that would mean more toilet breaks at night and sleep will be disrupted. Sleep deprivation or poor-quality sleep would lead to ill-health.
So if you have to drink water at night, consume it at least an hour before you go to bed. If you really need to have water before bed, take a sip or two. Not more.
What about mornings?
It’s good to have a glass or two of water before you reach for the morning coffee. That’s because you haven’t had water while sleeping, and the body is dehydrated when you wake up. So some water before coffee will help, though coffee too would count as a liquid.
• Heat cramp: Sweating causes a loss of body salts and fluids, which can lead to heat cramps. An individual suffering from muscle spasms or pain due to the heat should move to a cool area, rest and hydrate.
• Heat Exhaustion: If the body loses too much water and salt, heat exhaustion may result. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist skin, nausea, headache, dizziness, weakness and rapid pulse. Workers should immediately lie down in a cool area, drink lots of water and apply cold compresses or ice packs if available. If signs of heat exhaustion do not abate or worsen, the individual should go to the emergency room.
Can we substitute fruit juices, milk or tea for water?
Technically, yes. They all count as fluids and should help in hydration, but some are better than others.
JUICES: The trouble with fruit juices is that they have high acidity and high sugar content. So if you have fruit juices, dilute them well. And the sugar content won’t help people with diabetes. Water flushes out toxins from the body and allows it to absorb nutrients. Juices too can help detoxify the body, but water can remove the toxins piling up for months. Green juice is better as it has healing effects when combined with a healthy diet.
MILK: It provides protein and fat. “Milk is better than either a sports drink or water because it is a source of high-quality protein, carbohydrates, calcium and electrolytes,” says Brian Timmons, research director of the Child Health and Exercise Medicine Programme at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. This is particularly true for children who become dehydrated during exercise, and milk replaces sodium lost in sweat and helps the body retain fluid better.
TEA: Drinking tea is better than water. While water replaces the fluid that is lost, tea not only replaces fluids but also contains antioxidants. According to Dr Carrie Ruxton, a nutritionist who authored a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tea’s health and hydrating benefits outweigh water.
Green tea is not ideal for hydration since it’s a natural diuretic, which causes the body to lose water. Drinking excessive green tea can cause frequent urination leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Which means headaches, lethargy and fatigue. Green tea has health benefits: it’s been linked with reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, and improving blood flow. So the trick is to have green tea in moderation, but not as alternative to water.
7 things that happen to your body when you stop drinking water
On last count, approximately 2.1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water. That number keeps increasing by the day, as per a report by the World Health Organisation. The demands for access to clean water and food have never been as pressing as they are today.
The water that is available is so polluted that those who have access to it are constantly at risk of contracting illnesses such as cholera, typhoid and polio, to name a few.
The United Nations also estimates that globally 420,000 die as a result of food contamination. Almost one in ten people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food.
So, what happens to the human body if you don’t drink water?
The short answer: you die a slow and painful death. The long answer is that every human cell is comprised of up to 70% water, which is needed for a number of human bodily processes and reactions, including blood circulation, regulation of body temperature, waste removal and detoxification.
We start to feel thirsty when our body water percentage drops about two per cent lower. The thirst centre of the brain is located in the hypothalamus. This feeling of thirst is a survival instinct; it’s our brain telling us to refill on H2O, so that our body doesn’t start dehydrating.
Each day we lose two to three litres of water through sweat, urine and bowel movements. Even breathing uses water from our body. It is essential to maintain a balanced water level, by drinking enough throughout the day. How much water you need to drink a day, depends on factors such as your geographic location, your age, your body fat and your gender. Men roughly need between 2.5 and 3.7 litres of water a day, while women need 2 to 2.7 litres. If you don’t drink enough water, the outcome is usually very bad.
1. Dark urine
When your body is low on water, your brain sends signals to your kidneys to send more water to your blood, rather than flushing it out in the urine. When your blood holds on to the water, it causes your urine to turn a dark yellow with a strong odour. That’s your body’s way of conserving fluids.
2. Brain shrinkage
When you don’t drink enough water, your energy drops and your mood becomes more irritable. A dehydrated brain actually works much harder to achieve simple tasks, than when you are well hydrated. It even temporarily shrinks if you don’t drink water.
3. Joint pain
Water is meant to lubricate the areas between the bones, for easy movement and comfortable sleeping. If you don’t drink water, your joints begin to hurt and your bones grind against each other.
You feel hungry, when you don’t drink water, even if you’ve eaten recently. You are more likely to overeat when you don’t drink water. It’s very common to confuse dehydration with hunger.
Because it takes your brain more than double the effort to get anything done, you will suffer headaches if you don’t drink enough water. Your eyes will also hurt, since they’ve become dry.
6. Water weight
If you don’t drink water, you gain water weight. This may sound slightly counterintuitive, but drinking less water causes your body to hold on to every drop, which means you look and feel bloated. The numbers on the scale will temporarily go up.
7. Slowly dying of thirst
When you stop drinking water, you experience all of the above signs of dehydration. Feeling of thirst, having dark urine, feeling hunger and irritability to name a few. As you continue not drinking, you stop going to the bathroom all together. You start having trouble swallowing, suffer from muscle spasms, and should experience some sort of nausea. Your blood stops flowing to the skin and your core body temperature increases. The lack of blood flow in your skin may cause you to turn a greyish blue colour. After three to five days of not drinking water, your organs begin to shut down, especially the brain, which could have lethal consequences including fainting, strokes and in extreme cases, even death.
Drinking water can solve many health problems in the body, so make sure to keep your cells hydrated and healthy. If you want to help in the mission to end global thirst, check out the amazing projects on Water.org and see how you can contribute.
— Sources: Mayo Clinic and NHS