Dehydration is About More than Feeling Parched

Odds are you’ve been told more times than you can count that staying hydrated is a requirement of optimal wellness—but it bears repeating. The effects of even mild dehydration can detract from quality of life and impact how you move, look and feel.

Rest assured, if you’re finding it hard to get in your daily dose of H20, we’ve listed below ten quick ways you can rectify your hydration situation. But first? Let’s dig a little deeper into what might put you at risk of dehydration and why it’s so crucial to keep that water bottle close.

Situations that Place You at High Risk of Dehydration

There’s never a bad time to grab a swig of water, but some circumstances require additional intention and focus. Being out in hot weather is an obvious one, as is drinking too much alcohol and waking up with a desert-dry feeling in your mouth the next day.

Individuals who should take even greater caution include athletes and the elderly.

Athletes tend to experience a higher level of water loss—via sweating—than sedentary adults. Studies suggest that individuals who don’t adequately replenish their fluids throughout the course of challenging athletic activities may find their performance suffers in the form of reduced endurance, increased muscle fatigue, diminished motivation and the general sense that things feel harder.

Seniors are at high risk as aging tends to lead to a downgrade in kidney function (with kidneys being the organ that produces urine). Older adults are also at greater risk of developing diabetes, which is associated with higher incidences of dehydration. Both of these developments can lead to a more frequent urge to urinate, which may cause some seniors to avoid drinking water in an effort to reduce their number of trips to the bathroom—this only intensifies the risk of dehydration further.

What Happens When You’re Dehydrated?

In addition to the physical performance issues noted above, there are a host of symptoms you may experience while dehydrated. The MayoClinic highlights symptoms of dehydration as follows: “extreme thirst, less frequent urination, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, confusion.” According to Carol Harrison over at the Times-Standard, older individuals may also experience “weight loss, increased heart rate and low blood pressure” as well as “decreased skin firmness.”

Your mood may be impacted, as well. Studies suggest that even mild dehydration can have consequences on motivation and make tasks seem harder than they would have seemed otherwise.

So, What are the Perks of Being Fully Hydrated?

Here’s the good news: drinking water can reverse these negative side effects. A recent article in the British Journal of Nutrition (by Natalie A. Masento, et al.) stresses that “Severe dehydration has been shown to cause cognitive deficits such as short-term memory and visual perceptual abilities as well as mood disturbance, whereas water consumption can improve cognitive performance, particularly visual attention and mood.”

Writing for the Well section over at the New York Times, writer Jane E. Brody expounds on the benefits of optimal hydration:

“Good hydration definitely protects against kidney stones, and there is evidence that it counters constipation and exercise-induced asthma. It may also help protect against vascular diseases, like stroke, an elevated heart rate or sudden drop in blood pressure and is especially important for people with diabetes.”

Feeling that hydration motivation yet? Here are our tips for keeping thirst at bay.

10 Ideas for Staying Hydrated All Day Long

Start Your Day with a Glass of Water

Make downing a glass of water your number one priority when you wake up every morning. Not only will this help you stick to your water goals, studies suggest it’ll also kickstart your metabolism and increase alertness, among other benefits.

Avoid Alcohol

The folks over at Stanford set up a Q&A on hangovers to address the effects of overconsumption; unsurprisingly, dehydration is on that list since “alcohol is a diuretic and causes our system to shed water.” If and when you choose to imbibe, keep your consumption to 1–2 drinks and always down a glass of water between each—this is also key for taming hangovers.

Drink Your Beverages Out of a Wine Glass

No, really—if you’re staying away from alcohol and are still looking to have something “fun” with your meal, downing some kombucha or soda water out of a wine glass can make the experience seem more enjoyable. All sorts of factors influence our brains into enjoying meals more or less, so if changing up your stemware encourages you to reach for more nonalcoholic fluids, do it.

Opt for Sparkling

Speaking of nonalcoholic beverages, if fizz is your thing, keep some carbonated water options available at your house and place of work. You might consider investing in an at-home soda-making machine (like SodaStream) if drinking sparkling water is the main way you get your daily dose in.

Keep Your Friends Close and Your Water Bottle Closer

Easy access is key to success, so make it a point to always leave the house with a full bottle of water (you already do this with your smartphone, anyway). Just make sure you clean out your reusable water bottles on the regular—according to USAToday, the average reusable water bottle houses “more bacteria than a dog dish.” (Note: this is NOT an excuse to avoid drinking water altogether—just do the responsible thing and sanitize often.)

Infuse that Water with an Extra Something

Infusing water with fruit, herbs and even flowers is all the rage these days and can inspire you to drink more. It’s as easy as filling a pitcher with water and adding a few slices of lemon or lime (or both). You can also try out some interesting combinations like strawberry and mint or cucumber and basil. There are even water bottles available that feature separate chambers for your flavor items, allowing you to keep your on-the-go water tasty and smooth.

Download a Water-Drinking Reminder App

Technology is making it easier and easier to remember to stop what you’re doing and take a sip of the good stuff. There are a number of free apps and browser extensions available to ping you with reminders to drink water throughout the day. Just do a quick search to find an option that works best for your device.

Challenge Your Friends and Coworkers

Accountability is king when it comes to sticking to goals. Now that you’ve installed your water-drinking app, every time you receive a reminder get your friends and colleagues to join in—stop, drop and chug! Helping the whole team stay hydrated is not only good for your health, it can make your workplace more productive.

Check the Weather Ahead of Time

If you’re planning on spending time outdoors—especially it involves physical activity—make sure you take note of the probable temperature and weather conditions ahead of time. If it’s going to be hot out, bring extra water and dress appropriately.

Get Your Daily Dose of Fruits and Veggies

Liquids are not the only source of water. From soups to fruits, Healthline offers up a list of 19 hydrating foods.

Hydration and Total Wellness

Staying hydrated is critical for sleeping well, staying sharp and nurturing overall wellness. At SciLife™, we developed high-quality multivitamins and supplements to help make the rest of your life the best of your life. Bonus? Taking a daily supplement is a great time to get some extra H20 in your system—just drink a whole glass of water instead of a swig when swallowing your capsules. Your body will thank you.