By now, we’re all well aware of how important it is to drink plenty of water. Not only is it the most important thing for human survival (you can go three weeks without food but only three days without water), it’s essential for everything from your brain and muscle function to regulating your hormones. Basically, if you’re not getting enough h20, it’s nearly impossible to live your best life.
So, how much water should we actually be drinking? A good rule of thumb is to divide your weight by 0.024 to find out how many mls of water you should be guzzling each day. So, someone who weighs 60 kg would get 2500, which equates to 2.5 L water per day. Simple enough, right? But unless you want to carry around a 2.5 litre water bottle all day or have a smart bottle, it can hard to keep track of how much you’re actually drinking. Especially when you consider the fact that all liquids like tea and juice (not coffee, because it can actually dehydrate you) count towards your fluid intake.
Thankfully, your body has plenty of clever ways of warning you that you’re dehydrated — long before you actually feel parched! Here are some signs that you’re not drinking enough water.
1You have muscle cramps
Ever woken up with a random leg cramp in the middle of the night? It’s kind of scary, but normally just a sign that you’re a little low in magnesium. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that it can also indicate that you need to up your h20 levels — especially if it happens after a sweat sesh. This is because when we sweat excessively, our sodium levels drop. This means that the body has to figure out where the remaining fluid should go. Usually, your circulatory system has priority and your muscles lose out. When your muscles aren’t surrounded by sodium, they’re more sensitive — resulting in involuntary muscle contractions.
2Your pee is dark
We know you’re busy and don’t have a lot of time to hang out in the bathroom analysing the hue of your urine. But a quick glance into the toilet bowl is by far one of the easiest ways to check whether you’re drinking enough water. Generally, the lighter and clearer your pee, the more hydrated you are. So, if yours is more yellow and cloudy, it’s a good sign you need to drink up.
Feeling crankier than a cabbie on New Year’s Eve, for no apparent reason? A lack of water could be to blame. Even mild dehydration has been proven to cause mood swings and irritability — particularly in young women! While scientists aren’t sure why dehydration triggers bad mood smore than our male counterparts, they believe it may be some kind of in-built alarm system to tell us we need more water. Well, we are the more intuitive sex!
4You can’t focus
Find yourself reading the same paragraph over and over again? You may need to top up your water bottle. When you’re not drinking enough to replenish the fluids you lose through bodily functions like sweat and urine, it can lead to a loss of electrolytes (vital nutrients and minerals within the body.) When there’s an electrolyte imbalance in the body, your brain function suffers— which makes it harder to concentrate.
5You have a headache
Considering our brains are 80% water, it’s hardly surprising that headaches strike when we’re not drinking enough. When we’re dehydrated, the brain tissue loses water — which causes pain-inducing shrinkage around your noggin. It also causes inhibits oxygen supply to the brain, which leads to dilated blood vessels in the brain that increase swelling and inflammation. Basically, there are a lot of things that cause headaches — but not getting enough h20 is at the top of the list.
6Your skin is dry
It’s not unusual for your skin to be on the dry side at this time of year. But if you’re religiously applying moisturiser twice a day and your skin still resembles sandpaper, it could be a sign you’re not chugging enough water. Your skin is just like any other organ — if it’s not getting enough water, it won’t be able to do its job properly. So, when your body is dehydrated, your skin will follow suit. For glowing, supple skin you need to hydrate your body on the inside, not just the outside. Guess all those models aren’t lying when they say the secret to their amazing complexion is drinking heaps of water!
7You can’t ‘go’ properly
It goes without saying that when you’re drinking less water, you’ll pee less often. But did you know what your water intake can also affect your other bathroom habits? Staying hydrated helps to lubricate your digestive system and keep things ‘flowing’ as they should be. So, when you’re dehydrated, it makes it more difficult to pass bowel movements. If you frequently experience constipation, it’s worth looking not only at your diet but at your water intake, too.
Want to trick yourself into drinking more water? Check out our top tips here.