Much to my surprise, I recently had two different doctors on separate occasions tell me that I am dehydrated…
The first was at my recent vitamin IV therapy; the doctor had trouble inserting the needle because my body was dehydrated. The second was the bodywork doctor I see for acupuncture and rolling cupping who had a bit of difficulty performing the treatment because – you guessed it- my skin was dehydrated.
This feedback seemed odd… I drink a ton of water! I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and recently finished my D.Tox (which means I’m not slamming caffeine and have been eating clean). My body should be balanced and hydrated! I decided to more closely track my water intake and did some research to learn more about dehydration. In my research several things became apparent… first, drinking water is not the only factor that determines hydration. If your body has a mineral imbalance, it’s not able to properly utilize water molecules – so drinking water alone won’t solve the problem. Interestingly, salt is one of the essential minerals for proper cellular function. Not too much, but not too little. I don’t want to get too technical but salt basically aids water in moving from outside of cell membranes to the inside of cells where it then fuels cellular function. Don’t overdo it though! You only need less than 1/2 teaspoon of salt each day, so adding a touch of salt to your drinking water is sufficient. The salt should be high quality, mineral-rich sea salt. I like Himalayan salt which I add to plain water or coconut water.
- We each have a refillable water bottle like this. This one belongs to my son, as you can tell from the dent. 🙂
How to know if you’re dehydrated:
Good news! There’s a super easy quick test to know if you’re dehydrated. It’s a pinch test that relies on the elasticity of your skin (called skin turgor), which is basically how easily your skin changes shape and returns to normal when pulled or pressed. Healthy, well-hydrated skin should snap back very quickly. You can test your skin turgor by pinching the back of your hand for a few seconds. If it immediately returns to normal, you’re good to go. If it doesn’t, you need to hydrate.
How much water is enough?
There’s the old-school rule of thumb that you should drink 6-8 glasses of water each day. But the more accurate answer is that it depends on your body weight. Take your body weight, divide by half and this equals the number of fluid ounces you should drink daily. But we can’t stop there … it also depends on your level of activity and how much you exercise. A couple of guidelines here:
- Pre-workout: You should drink 12-20 ounces of water two hours prior to working out AND during workout, drink 6 ounces for every 20 minutes of exercise. This is especially true if you’re planning on a rigorous workout where you’’ll be sweating a lot.
- Post-workout: You should drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight that you have lost after exercise. But if you do this, you need to know your average hydrated weight before exercise.
Dehydration is no joke!
A well-hydrated body is like a well-oiled machine. Just as oil lubricates the parts of a car’s engine, water lubricates the cells in our body. Without sufficient water, things stop working as they should. Effects of dehydration include:
- Decreased performance (!! We definitely don’t want this… Speaking for myself anyway, I want to get as much out of each workout as possible!)
- Increased core temperature
- Increased heart rate
- Sodium retention
- Decreased cardiac output
- Increased perceived exertion
- Decreased blood flow to the skin
- Increased use of muscle glycogen (Crazy, right!?)
- Even 2% of dehydration affects the circulatory functions and decreases performance levels
Benefits of being sufficiently hydrated:
If you’re properly hydrated, not only will you avoid the ailments listed above, but you’ll also experience the following benefits:
- Improved function of endocrine glands whose main function is to secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream
- Liver function improves, increasing the amount of fat used for energy
- Metabolic function improves
- Nutrients are distributed throughout the body
- Retention of fluid is alleviated
So do yourself a favor and check-in with your body. Take care of it. Give your body what it needs and you’ll have better workouts, better skin, and will feel better! If you have tips for how you keep hydrated, I’d love to hear them! Feel free to share in the comments below or send me a message.
As always, thanks for checking in and reading this post. – Em