March 27, 2023

It is speculated that the United States is experiencing an epidemic of chronic dehydration, caused by 75% of citizens not drinking enough water. This is an impressive percentage when we think about the short and long term effects of dehydration, including: brain fog, fatigue, constipation, decreased kidney function.

The long-term effects of dehydration could be catastrophic if ignored. The goal of this article, however, is not to panic, but to educate those who tend not to hydrate properly. Just think that the human body is made up of 60% water!

Here is a common effect of dehydration that you might easily recognize: If you wake up in the morning and drink coffee before starting the day, you may still feel tired at 10:30 . Probably, your energy peaked but then dropped again. This is not due to the lack of caffeine; rather, you may be dehydrated. When you wake up after a night’s sleep, there are a few things to note in your body: you will have a spike in cortisol, the stress hormone responsible for wakefulness, but you will also have gone 8 hours without supplementing with water. Which means you don’t need coffee, but you are dehydrated.

Tips for increasing your hydration level

One experiment you can do is to hydrate yourself before consuming caffeine. Postpone your usual morning coffee, consuming it one hour to 90 minutes after the usual time. As difficult as it may seem, by properly hydrating you will avoid the 10:30 am caffeine crash. The goal is to feel alert, not anxious and nervous due to a wave of coffee ups and downs.

The starting point for properly hydrating is recognizing the signs of dehydration in advance. Here are the main ones:

  • Dark-colored urine. The clearer it is, the more it means that you are hydrated.
  • Your thoughts are clouded, your concentration decreases even in the smallest tasks and you feel irritable. A 2011 study in the British Journal Of Nutrition found that mildly dehydrated young people are much more likely to feel fatigued.
  • Your lips or mouth are dry and you feel noticeably thirsty. Dehydration triggers the body’s response to thirst. This means that once you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

General recommendations for hydration vary from person to person, there is no definitive answer. The UK Association of Dietitians suggests that adults need around 1.5-2 liters of fluid per day, while in the US 2.7 liters are recommended for adult males. What is right for each of us will require some testing and some evaluation.
Additionally, these recommendations do not take into account fluids lost due to changes in temperature or exercise. It is not unusual to lose 5-10% of your body’s water content during an intense training session. If you are an athlete or a fitness enthusiast, you need to be very careful to supplement enough fluids during and after longer, more intense sessions.

Considerations and tips to make sure you are fit

  • To test your hydration levels you can ask yourself “Am I feeling foggy or thirsty right now?” As well as watching your urine throughout the day. If it’s not clear, drink more.
  • If you are training hard or your sessions are particularly long, it may be worth considering taking rehydration supplements to relieve cramps and fatigue.
  • Buy a large bottle , possibly one liter. Always keep it clearly visible on your desk as a constant reminder to drink during the day and mitigate prolonged periods of dehydration.
  • Drinking more water may take effort, but its benefits on our cognitive and physical performance are fundamental. Drinking just a little more will prove to you that it’s worth it.

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