I’m a terrible water drinker. So much so, I could (if I didn’t know any better) go days without drinking a sip. I wish I could say the same for coffee, I’m a lover but it doesn’t love me back in quite the same manner. Seems if I coast along on autopilot, I’m setting myself up for an unhappy body and very unhappy hormones. We happily accept that water is an important part of your routine. We are after all, 70% water and without constantly topping ourselves back up, we can see a host of symptoms including weight gain, acne, hormone imbalance, bad breath, dizziness, irritability and headaches and stiff or achy joints (and some). It’s estimated that around 75% of the developed world are dehydrated. That’s a lot of parched peeps! So how is that so many of us a shrivelled like a dried date, yet we aren’t recognising the signs?
When you starve yourself of fluids, your body quickly adapts meaning that your signals of dehydration aren’t what you might think.
Recently I discovered that the less I meet my daily requirements of water intake, the less my body seemed to ask for it. It got me curious as to why, so I dug a little deeper. I know I’m not alone – the majority of the developed world are with me on this, we are surviving and possible not thriving for a host of reasons- one very obvious culprit being dehydration.
Here’s what I’ve noticed after some good trial and error. When I’m in a long term dehydrated state, I don’t feel thirsty. In fact it’s the last thing on my mind. When I’m in full swing of healthy intake, my body quickly tells me when it’s thirsty – all. the. time. But just like every other mechanism in your body, when it’s placed under threat it prioritises, giving in rank order to the more necessary functions in attempt to save up for what’s most important. It’s true that every single cell in our body depends on great hydration, yet as we move into a state of dehydration the body adapts to suit it’s new conditions. In a picture perfect situation, our cells are plump and our cell walls flexible. However, in a starved state this very same wall becomes hardened to hold in as much water in as possible as the body goes into survival mode for fear of limited fluids – it doesn’t know how long it will need to remain in this state for. Over time, our cells no longer believe they can be adequately supplied, switching off the thirst mechanism. Our poor little cells don’t know how to cope – they no longer trust us!
When it comes to stress and load on your body, it doesn’t know the difference between being hydrated and running late to an appointment – stress is just STRESS! And so with this in mind it’s important to understand that not only does your body switch into famine mode when you are dehydrated and can’t fully facilitate normal body functions, by adding more stress to the mix it only pushes your hormone balance further away from it’s norm. As we’ve spoken about so many times, your sex hormones and your stress hormones crave balance. When your stress hormones are heightened, your sex hormones suffer as a means of priority. When our sex hormones are balanced it feels good but we don’t need them to survive day to day. Most commonly when our sex hormones are compromised, we tend to experience oestrogen dominant (read more here) symptoms including ovulation pain, period pain, weight gain, anxiety and irregular menstrual cycles. It’s so very important we learn to understand ourselves better and something simple as amping up the fluid intake can very quickly take you to your best. (need more help with stress management – THIS is for you!)
Let’s tick off a few hydration facts to take you to your best.
So how much is enough?
Fact remains, we are all unique so it’s a little tricky to answer. It depends on your constitution, diet, lifestyle and body type. I’m always keen to steer women (and men) toward tapping into what your own body needs. Once you get back into hydration mode, you’ll find your body will remind you frequently to drink enough fluids which should take you closer to meeting your body’s quota. If we had to put a figure on it – for women I’d say this is somewhere between 1.5-2.5L per day and for men up to 3L depending on the level of activity output each day.
Are all fluids equal?
Where possible water is your best source of hydration alongside clear fluids like tea. Coffee is said to be classed as an acceptable fluid and depending on who you talk to, not actually dehydrate you. For me the main concern with excess consumption of coffee is what it does to your cortisol levels. High consumption of coffee has also been linked to frequent miscarriage. I’d suggest sticking to 1 cup per day which doesn’t really go a long way to contribute to your daily intake. Avoid sugary and processed drinks and definitely nasty energy drinks that are full of chemicals and toxins.
Is there a better time of day to drink fluids?
I’d suggest regularly sipping throughout the day and listening to your body’s needs. If you can get 70% of your water intake in before mid afternoon it may save you from having to wake to go to the bathroom of a night time – the only downside to plenty of fluids is plenty of toilet trips!
What colour should my urine be?
Again, there is no right or wrong but you’re always aiming for clear. Just remember if you’re juicing it up, it may have an effect. Don’t freak out if it turns red from too much beetroot! If your urine is cloudy or has sediment in it, it’s a great time to look into why. A cleanse might be a good idea to see if it helps to move toxins and excess heat through your body.
Speaking of cleanses – just a reminder that we kick off our 5 Cleanse Challenge TODAY! If you want in, you can find out more here. It’s FREE to join and it’s going to be FUN.
Perhaps you’ve experienced dehydration but not recognised the signs. I’d love to learn more – we can talk about it in the comment section below. And of course, as always, feel free to share this with your loved ones. Simply adding in an extra few glasses of water each day can have you kicking your wellness goals!