So, apparently, this past July was Earth’s hottest month ever recorded according to NOAA and NASA, and I believe it. It’s been miserably hot and humid here in southeastern NC. I know some people love this weather. Not me. Bring on the cool, crisp, invigorating fall! A few days ago during a particularly sweaty spell, I told my mother-in-law that if she ever heard me complaining about the cold this winter, to please just slap me. (She would never, of course).
Since I’ve been sweating buckets lately–and I’m guessing many of you have, too–I’ve been paying particularly close attention to hydration.
Even my 5-year-old has been learning about the importance of staying hydrated at summer camp. In fact, she explained how she thinks about it, which of course, I think is brilliant.
Me: “Stella, do have your water bottle in your schoolbag? Wanna make sure you stay hydrated when you’re playing outside because it’s gonna be really hot today.”
Stella: “Yes, because you don’t wanna get lodrated.”
Me: “I’m sorry, honey, what did you say?”
Stella: “You don’t wanna get LO-drated. When you drink enough water, you’re HI-drated, but if you don’t, you’re LO-drated.”
Well, there you go.
You probably think of thirst as the first cue that you’re “lo-drated”. But did you know that the mild dehydration associated with being thirsty is enough to spur other, more under-the-radar symptoms?
6 SYMPTOMS THAT YOU MIGHT NOT NORMALLY ASSOCIATE WITH DEHYDRATION
- Sugar cravings. When you’re dehydrated, it can be difficult for organs that use water (like the liver) to release glycogen and other components of your energy stores, so you can actually get cravings for food, most often sweets. This could be due to your body experiencing difficulty with glycogen production.
- Stinky breath. Saliva is a natural antibacterial, and dehydration can prevent your body from making enough saliva. Thus, decreased saliva allows bacteria to thrive, contributing to bad breath.
- Headaches. The brain sits inside a fluid sack that keeps it from bumping against the skull. If that fluid sack is low because of dehydration, the brain can push up against parts of the skull, causing headaches.
- Asthma / allergy flares. A relatively immediate effect of dehydration is the release of inflammatory mediators–including histamine–that can stimulate smooth muscle, causing contraction, and asthma flares.
- Irritability, negative mood, and perception that tasks are more difficult. Although researchers don’t fully understand the mechanisms behind why dehydration contributes to these effects, one theory is that these negative changes in mood and perception may serve as a signal that evolved to alert humans before more severe consequences could occur that would actually impair our ability to find water or respond to threats.
- Constipation. The colon is one of the first places from which the body pulls water in order to provide fluids for other critical bodily functions. Without adequate water, waste moves through the large intestines much more slowly, and possibly not at all. Thus, constipation is almost always one of the primary symptoms of chronic dehydration. You need fluid to keep that colon rollin’!
TIPS FOR STAYING HYDRATED
- Keep your water bottle handy. Duh.
- Have fun with homemade, infused water. If you’re getting bored with plain water, make your own “infused” water. You can use countless combinations of fruit, herbs, and spices. I made this strawberry, lemon, basil water earlier this week, and it is refreshing and delicious! Even my 5-year-old loved it.
- Choose snacks with high water content. Yes, food can help you hydrate. Swap dry, carby snacks like chips, pretzels, and crackers — which have a very low water content among other less desirable qualities — with fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt, healthy smoothies, celery with nut butter, and cut veggies with hummus.
- Pile on the produce at mealtime. Veggies will supply water as well vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Opt for room temperature or cooler water. Steer clear of extreme temperatures. When ice water comes into the stomach it constricts the arteries surrounding the stomach that help the stomach function properly and help with water absorption. Ice water can just sit in your stomach until it warms up. If you hear water swishing around in your stomach, it means the water is not getting absorbed.
About Amy Beausang
Amy is a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) who wants to help people avoid, reduce, or even eliminate their need for medication(s).
She’s spent nearly 20 years as a pharmacist—most of that time working for the pharma and biotech industry. She learned firsthand about how the industry works and about what really matter to the big stakeholders. And unfortunately, most of the time, she saw that the #1 stakeholders are not the patients who actually take the medications being prescribed and sold to them. This is why she left the industry–so that she could follow her heart and her conscience. She helps inform people and potentially protect them from potentially harmful effects and drug interactions.
Amy is not only a Licensed Pharmacist, but she is a member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners–how’s that for irony? She is also a certified health coach, from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and a certified group fitness instructor.
Bottom line is, Amy’s been there. She’s a real person. She knows how hard it is sometimes to ignore that voice or urge telling you to go against what you know is best for your body, mind, and soul. She still struggles with her own health issues, but has found many tools that she can use to come through the tough times stronger and more determined than ever to keep getting better!
For more information on Amy Beausang, PharmD, Health Coach, and to inquire about Heath Coaching or medication reviews, go to amybeausang.com