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Drinking too little can cause mild dehydration, although most people don't realize they are dehydrated. The symptoms of mild dehydration include:
It's surprising that losing as little as three percent of your body's weight can cause the above symptoms. For someone who weights 150 pounds, that's just about 4-1/2 pounds. Losing 15 to 20 percent of your body weight as fluid can be fatal - which can happen during very hot weather and/or to athletes working out without drinking enough water.
We lose about 8 to 12 cups of water daily through respiration, perspiration, digestion and urine. Since the body does not store a lot of water, it must be replaced through food and fluids. Many foods are high in water content - most fruits and vegetables are 80 to 90 percent water. Following a balanced eating plan and drinking enough fluids both help hydrate the human body adequately.
Thirst is not always an accurate indicator of whether or not you are thirsty. In fact, the body's thirst mechanism does not kick in until you have lost that three percent of body weight that is an indicator of early hydration. Yes, the thirst mechanism is surprisingly inefficient! And, the thirst mechanism becomes even less efficient with age.
Try these tips for staying hydrated:
Check your urine - clear and light coloured urine and frequent urination indicates adequate hydration. In other words, urine the colour of lemonade is one indicator that you are well hydrated, while urine the colour of apple juice means you might not be taking in enough fluid.
If you can't be a camel, be a water bug! Well, unless you are a camel, then you need lots and lots of water everyday. Camels have this crazy ability to go several days without drinking water even in the hot, dry desert. They lose water slowly and can replenish large amounts in a matter of minutes. Because you're not a camel you need water every single day to live: in fact most people need more than they drink to feel better, think better and work out better. And the good news is you can meet your daily water needs by drinking good old H2O, other flavoured beverages, juices and even by eating foods like fruits and vegetables. Cool fact: The human body is 2/3 water.
What does all this water do in your body? Believe it or not it's the main ingredient of blood. Water is also found in ALL of the billions of cells of your body because cells need water to carry nutrients in and waste products out. Water helps to lubricate your joints (like knees and elbows) so that they move easier. Water helps to digest food and move it through your intestinal tract. It forms the basis of urine (which helps waste flow from the body). Water also helps you breathe properly.
Another cool fact: Water helps regulate your body temperature so you don't get too hot or too cold. When you "heat up" (like from playing ball or biking or just sitting around on a hot day), you sweat - and sweat is water. Sweat helps your body temperature stay normal. As you can see, water works hard in your body!
How much water do I need? A lot more than most people think or drink. Here's a rough guide, although you may need even more depending on personal factors like activity and climate. To find out how much water you need everyday, review the following equation and example:
Step 1: Your weight divided by 2 = The number of ounces of water you need each day! For example, if you weigh 100 pounds, divide 100 by 2 and you'll get 50 ounces.
Step 2: Divide the ounces you need by 8 = The number of cups of water you need each day.
Now divide the 50 ounces by 8 to convert ounces to cups (1 cup water = 8 ounces). 50 divided by 8 = 6.25 or about 6 cups of water each day.
Now try it with your weight!
Step 1 _____ (your weight)/2 = _____ounces of water you need each day
Step 2 _____(ounces you need)/8 = _____cups of water you need each day
Unfortunately, that doesn't work. The body's thirst mechanism wasn't built very well. What this means for you is that you don't feel thirsty until you are already slightly dehydrated or when your body is already a little bit short on water. So the simplest advice is drink, drink, drink - water that is. And drink whether you are thirsty or not.
Yes, you do but remember that the body is really weird sometimes. When it needs water, you might not even feel thirsty at all. Instead you may feel tired, dizzy, have a headache or feel sick to your stomach. Here's how much to drink if you are playing sports or working out: