One health habit that is frequently overlooked in the quest to achieve optimal health is the importance of consuming enough water. Sixty percent of the body is water but the amount of water varies significantly depending on body organ. Bones contain 31% water, lungs 81% water, heart and brain both 73% water, and skin 63% water.
How much water we need to consume is dependent on several factors including age, weight, activity level, and dietary habits. How do you know if you are not consuming enough water? Your body will tell you most of the time, but not always, if you are shy on water.
As we get older our thirst mechanism begins to wane and many elderly are dehydrated. About 30% of us confuse our sense of thirst for our sense of hunger and will eat rather than consume fluids. Next time you feel hungry, drink a glass of water first and see if your hunger pangs subside. If they subside, then you needed the water. If they did not, then you needed food.
Signs You Are Not Consuming Enough Water
- Dry skin, mouth, and eyes.
- Sugar cravings.
- Decreased urination.
- Bad breath.
Dry Skin, Mouth, and Eyes
While many conditions can cause dry skin, dry skin can be related to not consuming enough water. Without enough water, skin will dry, crack, and will lose some of its elasticity. Dry mouth has many causes, too. But, it too can be related to lack of water, especially if you notice your lips are dry. Eyes can become dry and bloodshot if not enough water is consumed.
The digestive system requires water to keep itself adequately lubricated. When we are dehydrated the colon will absorb as much water as it can from the stool leading to constipation. Constipation is more common in the elderly and as we mentioned above the elderly are at risk for not consuming enough water.
Fatigue has many causes and is also more common among the elderly. If you feel sluggish after a night’s sleep considering starting the day with a large glass of water and see if that helps. More water improves blood flow which is essential for transporting oxygen and other nutrients throughout the body. All of our bodily functions require an adequate amount of water.
Suffer from sugar cravings? It may be because you are dehydrated. When the body is low on water it cannot tap into its glucose stores for energy. This then acts as trigger for cravings for sugar. When you have a craving for sugar, first drink a glass of water and see if your sugar craving resolves. If it does, you just saved yourself some unnecessary calories.
When we lack water we will urinate less. The kidneys which filter blood will try to reabsorb as much water as they can when we are in state of dehydration. This leads to less urine output. Also, urine that is concentrated or darker than usual can be a sign that you are not consuming enough water. Urine that is clear is a good indication that you are well hydrated.
How Much Water Should You Drink
As we have stated in some of our other posts, we believe you should consume in ounces half your body weight in pounds. In other words, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should strive for 75 ounces of water a day. A 200 pounder would strive for 100 ounces of water a day. If you exercise and/or sweat profusely consume a little more. Also, push more fluids when suffering from viral illnesses as much water is lost with gastrointestinal and upper respiratory infections.
Pay attention to the signs and symptoms we just discussed and adjust your water consumption accordingly.
Water is essential to good health, but frequently an overlooked nutrient in our diets. Even the CDC has little to say about water consumption.
Stay hydrated and stay young longer.