Have you ever paid attention to your urine colour? Urine colour can give you vital clues to your level of hydration.
If you don’t do anything else except increase your water intake, you will improve your energy, brain function and long-term health.
Our body is about 60% water, and this water is 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 noticed how forgetful or sluggish your brain becomes 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 blood pressure 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 it around your body or for your kidneys to filter it.
What about low blood pressure or dizziness? Less water means a lower fluid volume in the body and this will drop your blood pressure further, making you dizzy when you stand up quickly or exercise.
And it doesn’t end there, your gut function suffers massively when you are dehydrated! Constipation develops, as it is important to keep your blood hydrated and flowing, so your body reabsorbs water from your gut back into your blood 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 we eat. Too much acid in the body isn’t good for us and can cause inflammation, changes to our 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, how much should you be drinking?
This varies greatly depending on your body size, level of activity and climate. So, with the hot weather, you should be drinking heaps more water than usual, and air conditioning dries out the body, so that isn’t an excuse 🙂
I suggest starting at 2 litres per day, 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 fluoro 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 water.
You need to drink small amounts regularly, as if you drink a large amount at the one time, your 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 often too, as salt keeps the body hydrated, but 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!