Have you ever paid attention to your urine colour? Urine colour can give your vital clues to your level of hydration.
If you don’t do anything else except for improve your water intake, you will still improve your energy, brain function and your long-term health.
Our body is about 60% water! Water is actually central to the optimal function of EVERY organ system.
In fact, your brain has one of the highest needs for water, as it is actually 75% water. Have you ever realised how forgetful or sluggish your brain is when you are dehydrated? You may also have noticed that you get a headache easily as the brain has less fluid cushioning it in your skull! Now that doesn’t sound great does it?
If you suffer from high BP or kidney damage – think about what happens to your blood viscosity when it has less water in it. Yep, it gets thicker and more difficult for the heart to pump around the body or for the kidneys to filter.
What about low blood pressure or dizziness? Less water means a lower fluid volume in the body. This will drop your blood pressure further, making you dizzy when you stand up quickly or even exercise.
And it doesn’t end there! Your gut functions suffers massively when you are dehydrated too. Constipation develops as it is more important to keep your blood hydrated (and flowing). Therefore your body will reabsorb water from your gut back into your circulation which can leave your bowel contents dry and hard.
What about skin complaints or smelly body odour? The skin is an elimination organ and if acids cannot be removed effectively via the bowel or kidneys (due to dehydration), yep you guessed it, the skin will try to remove them. This can irritate the skin causing dermatitis or other skin issues and will also make your sweat smellier.
Your body will also be more acidic if it is dehydrated. Acids are made from daily metabolism and also from the foods that we eat. Too much acid in the body isn’t good for us and can cause inflammation, changes to your gut microbiome (bacteria) and brittle bones. Therefore we need adequate water to flush the excess acids out.
How much water do I need?
Okay, so now you know why you need to drink more. But how much should you be drinking?
This varies greatly depending on your body size, level of activity and the climate. So with the hot weather, you should be drinking heaps more water at the moment than usual. Air conditioning also dries out the body…so that isn’t an excuse:)
I suggest starting at 2L and either increasing or decreasing depending on the factors I mentioned.
The Urine Colour Test
Look at your urine colour (as long as you haven’t had any B vitamins which will give you fluro yellow urine). If your urine is pale, you are having adequate water, however if it is quite yellow (or even brown) and pungent you need more.
You need to drink small amounts regularly, as if you drink a large amount at a time the body won’t be able to absorb all of it and you will be sitting on the toilet more often and not hydrating effectively. I recommend keeping a glass or stainless steel water bottle with you at all times and sipping from it at least every 20 minutes. This will get you optimally hydrated the quickest. If you have been sweating, consider adding a pinch of salt to every litre of water (as well as some to your food) to help your body replenish the salt lost through your sweat. Without salt you will be on the toilet more too, as salt keeps the body hydrated. Be careful with salt if you have high blood pressure.
I recommend downloading a hydration reminder app for your phone. These apps are free and will remind you at regular intervals to drink, so you can remember to drink more often. You can’t rely on thirst to tell you when to drink, as by the time you are thirsty…you are already dehydrated!!!