Debra Roby is certified as a Personal Trainer through NASM. She trains private clients in the SF Bay area and is developing an online coaching business. She blogs at Weight for Deb.
When we get mildly dehydrated – simply missing one to three glasses of water throughout the day- the symptoms are often weight gain, confusion and a craving for sweets. Because we do not recognize these clues as “my body is thirsty”, we go about addressing these symptoms incorrectly. Often our “cures” -coffee or soda, salty or sweet snacks or even a nap- make the condition slightly worse instead of better.
We’ve learned it’s important to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Sipping from one glass each hour throughout the day keeps our cells hydrated. When we forget, our body pulls water from where it can find it -our urine, our intestines, and our blood-to insure that our cells can continue to function. When this fluid is pulled away, it leads to kidney stones, bladder infections, constipation and more. More chronic dehydration affects our brain, leaving us confused or unable to concentrate.
The levels of dehydration that cause this are not high. A mere 1-2% drop can get these symptoms started, while a chronic 1% deficit can affect daily performance significantly.
The most common sign that you’re chronically dehydrated makes its presence known mid-afternoon with dull headaches, tiredness, and a lagging ability to concentrate.
So how can we insure we get enough water throughout the day?
1. Eat foods that contain high levels of water such as Romaine lettuce, watermelon, and soups. The water content of our food counts toward our total consumption.
2. Sip a healthy beverage every hour or so. Water, lemonade, fruit and vegetable juices all help. Remember, however, that beverages containing caffeine will act to dehydrate instead of rehydrate you.
3. Avoid salty foods. While some foods add toward our water, salty foods draw water into the gut, and make it unavailable for us to use.
Next time you’re sluggish or fuzzy minded, instead of grabbing an energy drink or a sweet snack, ask yourself: when did I last have a glass of water?
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