We all know it’s important to drink water and stay hydrated—but how do we know if we’re dehydrated? And how bad is it really to be dehydrated? Read on for 3 signs you definitely need to up your intake of H20.
Why does everyone make such a big deal about staying hydrated?
First of all, we can’t stress this enough: staying hydrated isn’t just a buzz phrase. It’s actually important. Like super important. Think about this. As an adult woman, approximately 55% of your body is made up of water. Every one of your cells needs it to function. In fact, letting yourself get seriously dehydrated can be really dangerous.
How do I know if I’m dehydrated?
So how do you know if you’re dehydrated and need to focus more on fluids? Your body gives you plenty of clues.
Peek at your pee
By far, the easiest clue is to take a peek at your pee when you stand up from the toilet. Usually, if you’re doing a pretty good job with your H20, your urine will be clear-ish to light yellow. If your urine looks dark yellow, that’s generally a sign you need to hydrate. Don’t freak out and over-guzzle; just set your water bottle nearby and focus on taking sips.
The reason your pee color is a good indicator of your hydration status is because of how your kidneys function. If you’re not drinking enough, your kidneys try to conserve the water that’s already in your body. That way, your cells can still function properly.
Rethink your need to eat something sweet
Listen, we know there’s more than one reason why we reach for sweets. A lot of times, it’s due to hormone fluctuations—like we’re PMS-ing, dealing with anxiety, or craving something sugary because we’re physically or emotionally stressed. But your intense I-need-that-brownie-and-yes-that-ice-cream-too feeling could also be from dehydration.
How’s that even possible? Your body is so smart, and whenever you’re not getting enough of one thing, it compensates. Stored glucose gives you energy, but, when you’re dehydrated your liver doesn’t have enough water to do a good job metabolizing glycogen. As you start to get tired and flag, your body signals you to grab something sugary, so you can get a quick burst of energy. But what do you really need in this situation? Water.
Even your skin looks thirsty
Before we fully get into this one, let’s preface it with this: there is a difference between dehydrated and dry skin. Primarily, dry skin has more to do with a damaged skin barrier or low essential fatty acids. Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, is common with hypothyroidism, perimenopause and menopause, and other health conditions. That said, something as simple as not drinking enough water does a number on the look and feel of your skin too. When you skimp out on your H20, your body pulls hydration from your skin to internal organs, where it’s absolutely essential. The result is dehydrated skin.
Dehydrated skin can age you, accentuating any fine lines and wrinkles that you have. It also can lead to itchiness, sunken eyes, and the kind of under- eye circles that are visible even through concealer. Can moisturizer help? Absolutely. But keep in mind that, if you want hydrated skin, you have to hydrate from the inside out.
How much water do I really need?
The truth is: most of us don’t drink as much water as we should. You can benefit from making a conscious effort throughout the day of staying hydrated. So how much water does your body need? Our liquid needs change depending on our size, our hormones, and where we are in our menstrual cycle (or if we’re in menopause!). A good general rule of thumb: most women should get about 11 cups of water a day. Some of that can come from the food (think watermelon, cucumbers, apples, tomatoes, and apples) and also other liquids. But a lot of it also needs to come from your water bottle or glass.
There’s no need to chug your water. Just keeping a glass nearby during the day can help. Keep this advice top of mind, too. Before your a.m. coffee and before meals, make sure to drink about 8 ounces of water. It’ll go a long way toward helping you stay hydrated, and it puts most of your water intake toward the beginning and middle of the day. The last thing you want to do is to end up drinking a day’s worth of water right before bed—and ending up making bathroom trips all night.