Don't Stay Thirsty, My Friends
Water, like oxygen, is essential for life. Without it, you can only survive 3-5 days. Besides helping to maintain life, water performs several other essential roles throughout the human body, including:
- Transports glucose and oxygen into your muscles.
- Aids digestion of food, helping to convert it to energy you can use.
- Serves as a critical component of your brain, blood, muscles, and bones.
- Removes metabolic byproducts like carbon dioxide from your muscles.
- Regulates body temperature when you’re working
Even with all its benefits, drinking water and staying hydrated is one of the most overlooked components in staying healthy. Humans have an unquenchable thirst for water. It’s the most critical nutrient for us on the planet, and ideally, we should be drinking water every day. For many, it’s a challenge to keep up with this near-constant need for water. Dehydration is one of the most common preventable medical conditions in the world, and it affects millions in the United States.
Here are a few things you might not know about dehydration:
1. 75% of Americans Are Chronically Dehydrated. A survey of 3,003 Americans found that 75% likely had a net fluid loss, resulting in chronic dehydration. Although the study found that Americans drank about eight servings of hydrating beverages per day, this is offset by drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol, and eating a diet high in sodium.
2. Dehydration Causes Fatigue. A pair of recent studies found that people who are mildly dehydrated are much more likely to feel fatigued during moderate exercise and even when sedentary. Not surprisingly, fatigue is a common dehydration symptom, and it’s said to be the number one cause of midday fatigue.
3. Thirst Means You’re Dehydrated. Dehydration triggers the body’s thirst response. So when you feel thirsty, dehydration is already setting in. In many experiments, just 1 to 2 % dehydration has been shown to trigger thirst. This level of dehydration can happen quickly, especially following intense work, or when battling viruses.
4. Dehydration Causes Foggy Memory, Irritability, and More. Dehydration, even mild dehydration, has been shown to put stress on our cognitive functioning. For instance, dehydration was linked to a dip in concentration and short-term memory, as well as an increase in feelings of anxiety and irritability.
5. Hydration Can Boost Your Metabolism. Although the evidence is limited, your metabolism could benefit from drinking cold water. In fact, one study found that drinking cold water helped boost healthy men and women’s metabolic rate by 30 %. The researchers concluded that the body expended more energy heating the cold water, which resulted in the boost in metabolism.
6. Dehydration Is One of the Most Common Risk Factors for Kidney Stones. A landmark 1990 study examined the causes of kidney stones in more than 700 patients. Chronic dehydration, caused by a variety of factors, was believed to be a factor in about 20% of cases. More recently, researchers have examined the link more in-depth. In one five-year randomized trial, patients with kidney stones were told to drink more water, which resulted in a drop in kidney stone recurrence.
NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) recommends that for moderate activity in moderate conditions, each worker should drink one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Workers are reminded to drink water frequently before becoming thirsty in order to maintain good hydration.