Find out if you’re drinking enough water by watching out for these five signs of dehydration:
Your mouth is dry
This seems so obvious – if you’re thirsty, you’re probably not getting enough fluids. True enough, but keep in mind that sometimes your thirst mechanism doesn’t kick in until you’re already running fairly ‘dry’ – which is one reason why athletes, especially, are encouraged to drink on a schedule. Also, as people age, the thirst response isn’t quite as strong, which is why establishing a healthy ‘drinking habit’ as a young adult is so important.
Your urine is dark
When your body is well hydrated, you can tell by looking at the color of your urine. If it’s relatively clear – enough that you could read the newspaper through it – then you’re good. Without enough water, your urine becomes concentrated, and dark in color. Your urine should look more like lemonade, and less like apple juice.
Proper bowel function relies on adequate fluids, so if you’re constipated, it’s possible that you aren’t drinking enough water. Most people consider fibre the most important factor in ensuring a well-functioning digestive tract. But in order for certain fibres (the water-soluble ones) to properly do their job, they need to soak up water, which causes the fibres to swell up – adding bulk and aiding elimination.
Your breath isn’t as sweet as it could be
When your mouth gets dry, there’s less saliva to wash away the naturally occurring bacteria that live there. As the bacteria feed on little bits of food and skin cells in your mouth, they start to multiply, leaving your breath a little stale – think “morning mouth”. Water helps because it keeps the saliva flowing and can help reduce bacterial build-up.
Your workouts aren’t as good as they could be
Water is critical in helping your body produce the energy your muscles need to fuel your workouts. When you’re not well hydrated, you may feel your energy flagging. That’s why getting enough fluids before and during exercise is so important.
Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.