How to Spot Dehydration & Increase Your Water Intake

Did you know that by the time we feel thirsty, we are often already dehydrated?

When I was a student at the University of Guelph, I was privileged to have Dr. Lawrence Spriet as one of my professors. If you have watched the World Juniors Hockey tournament every year, you may recognize him as the professor who worked with hockey players and Gatorade. 

Long story short, what he has shown is that by the time you feel thirsty you already have an issue with being dehydrated.  Hydration matters because it substantially impacts performance. 

And since our fluid levels affect our ability to control our temperature, pulse, blood pressure, digestion and millions of other functions, it’s something to take seriously.

Common Ways We Lose Water

There are many ways we lose water throughout the day. It’s important to be mindful of these to ensure you’re adequately replenishing your body with water.

  • Perspiration (which increases dramatically when exercising)
  • Urination (self-explanatory)
  • Breathing (you expel a little water with every breath)
  • Stress (impacts hormones that regulate fluid levels)
  • Herbal supplements (particularly those used to combat fluid retention)
  • Breastfeeding (breastfeeding requires an additional 2 cups of water per day)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (or other gastrointestinal upset)

The Top Signs of Dehydration

If you experience any of the following symptoms, dehydration may be playing a role:

  • Excessive thirst and dry mouth are usually the most obvious signs of dehydration and are signals that should not be ignored.
  • Dark urine is another sign of dehydration. When well-hydrated, your urine should be pale yellow.
  • Fatigue is a common symptom that has many different causes, but you may be surprised to hear that dehydration can be one.
  • Dry, flaky skin is a sign of long-term dehydration. Drinking plenty of water keeps the blood supply to your skin flowing, resulting in a healthy complexion.
  • Headaches are another very common sign of dehydration, so try drinking a glass of water next time you feel one coming on.

When You’re Bored with Water…

It’s important to drink several glasses of water each day (really we should aim for at least 2 Litres), but if drinking another glass sounds a little too flavorless, try adding more of these water-rich foods to your diet:

  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Oranges
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Bone broth
  • Zucchini
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes

Also, if you are a coffee or tea drinker, please realize that they are diuretics (make you pee) meaning you lose more fluids when you drink them. These do not count as water.

Hydrate for Health

Don’t underestimate the power of water. It’s essential to all of our body’s systems and drinking enough is an easy way to help them function properly.

Keep a water bottle on you everywhere you go to prevent dehydration! 

Have you had a glass of water recently?

Dr. Sarah