How Do You Know if You’re Drinking Enough Water?

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Once your body has lost between one to two percent of its total water content, it will signal its needs by making you feel thirsty

Besides listening to your thirst, a good rule of thumb is to look at the color of your urine. Drink enough water to turn your urine a light-colored yellow

Frequency of urination can also be used to judge your water intake. If your urine is scant or if you haven’t urinated in several hours, that too is an indication you need to drink more

Throughout each day, your body loses water through your urine  and sweat glands—even when you’re not purposely working up a sweat. As a  result, you have to constantly replenish this fluid, and soft drinks do not count toward this requirement…

Both coffee and soda are high in caffeine, which acts as  a diuretic that will dehydrate you. Worse yet, sodas, fruit juices, and other  sweetened beverages are primary sources of fructose, which will only  deteriorate your health.

Ditto for artificially sweetened beverages. So the key is  to drink pure water. But just how much water do you need each day? While  an oft-repeated guideline says you should drink eight glasses of water a day,  this may be too much for some, and not enough for others.

Your water requirement can also vary wildly from day to  day depending on a number of factors, such as your activity level and weather  conditions.

Fortunately, your body is equipped with a mechanism that  tells you when you need to replenish your water supply. It’s called thirst. And there’s also a simple way to  gauge whether or not you need to drink more water even though you may not be  feeling thirsty.

How to  Read the Signs for Your Body’s Water Needs

Once your body has lost between one to two percent of its total water  content, it will signal its needs by making you feel thirsty. Using thirst as a guide to how much water you need to drink is a good way  to ensure your individual needs are met, day-by-day.

However, by the time your thirst  mechanism kicks in you may already be a bit dehydrated. Most studies show that  about 2/3 of us are dehydrated and need to drink more water.

This is particularly true for  the elderly. Therefore, it’s also wise to learn some of the other, more subtle,  signals your body sends, indicating you need to drink more water. As noted in  the featured article,1 this includes:

  • Fatigue and/or mood swings
  • Hunger even though you’ve recently eaten
  • Back or joint ache
  • Dull, dry skin and/or pronounced wrinkles
  • Infrequent urination; dark, concentrated urine, and/or constipation

The Color of Your Urine Is an Important Marker

Besides listening to your  thirst, a good rule of thumb is to look at the color of your urine. You should be drinking enough water to turn  your urine a light-colored yellow.

Dark-colored urine is a sign  that your kidneys are retaining fluids in order to maintain your bodily  functions, which includes detoxification. As a result, your urine will seem  highly concentrated and dark in color. You may also urinate less frequently,  for the same reason.

Since your thirst mechanism tends  to become less efficient with age, older adults need to pay more careful attention  to the color of their urine to ensure adequate water intake.

Bear in mind that riboflavin  (vitamin B2, which is also found in most multi-vitamins) will turn your urine a  bright, almost fluorescent yellow. So if you’re taking supplements containing  B2, it may be more difficult to judge by the color of your urine.

Frequency of urination can also be used to judge your water intake. A  healthy person urinates on average about seven or eight times a day. If your  urine is scant or if you haven’t urinated in several hours, that too is an  indication that you’re not drinking enough.

Symptoms of Chronic Dehydration

The primary symptoms of  dehydration are: thirst, dry skin, dark colored urine, and fatigue. But there  are also a number of commonly overlooked symptoms that may suggest you’re  suffering from more or less chronic dehydration. Such symptoms include:

  • Digestive  disturbances such as heartburn and constipation
  • Confusion  and/or anxiety
  • Urinary  tract infections
  • Premature  aging
  • High  cholesterol

Dehydration Is a Common Problem Among the Elderly

According to recent research, one in  five seniors does not get enough water on a daily basis. Among those who do not  have a caretaker, that number is even higher—one in four. And seniors with  dementia are six times more likely to  be dehydrated.

Dehydration also tends to be more  common among people taking more medication. According to BBC News:2

“A 2013 analysis of death certificates by the [UK] Office  for National Statistics had shown that 1,158 care home residents suffered  dehydration-related deaths between 2003 and 2012.

But Dr. [Lee] Hooper said those figures were not clear-cut  as patients often stopped eating or drinking towards the end of life. She also  stressed that while care homes could sometimes do better, it was important to  point out that identifying dehydration and solving its causes was complex.

’The reasons older people do not drink enough are that as we  age we lose our sense of thirst so they may not be thirsty. [Or they] decide  not to drink because of continence issues, because they don’t have as much  social contact or because of frailty or forgetfulness.’”

Why I Do Not Recommend Bottled Water

While drinking water will help  flush out toxins, the more unfiltered water you drink, the more pollutants  you’re consuming… Most tap water contains an array of harmful contaminants,  including disinfection  byproducts, chemicals, radiation, heavy metals, and pharmaceutical drugs. Additionally,  be careful about bathing in unfiltered water as you can easily absorb more  toxins by breathing in a hot shower than you can by drinking tap water all day  long.

Last year, federal scientists  reported3 finding traces of 18 unregulated contaminants in one-third of the water samples  collected from 25 municipal utilities across the US, including perfluorinated  compounds like PFOA.  So besides making  sure you’re drinking enough, another very important consideration is the type  of water you drink.

Many instinctively reach for bottled water, but there  are many reasons to avoid this option. Drinking from plastic water  bottles can pose serious health risks from industrial chemicals like bisphenol-A  and bisphenol-S (BPA/BPS), as well as phthalates, which leach from the  plastic itself into the contents of the bottle. BPA and BPS are  estrogen-mimicking chemicals linked to reproductive defects, learning and  behavioral problems, immune dysfunction, and prostate and breast cancer.  Phthalates are also endocrine disruptors, and have been linked to a wide range  of developmental and reproductive effects, as well as liver cancer.

Bottled water also costs about 1,900 times the price of  regular tap water, and may or may not have received any additional treatment. Studies have shown  that 40 percent of bottled  water is actually regular tap water with possibly no additional filtering  treatment. While the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  requires large public water supplies to test for contaminants several times a  day, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires private bottlers to test  for contaminants only once a week, once a year, or once every four years,  depending on the contaminant.

One independent test4 performed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in 2011 revealed 38  low-level contaminants  in bottled water. Each of the 10 tested brands contained an average of  eight chemicals. Disinfection byproducts (DBPs), caffeine, Tylenol, nitrate,  industrial chemicals, arsenic, and bacteria were all detected. Fluoride is also usually present in  both tap water and filtered bottled water.

Many bottled waters actually make a point of adding fluoride back  into the water, so if you are drinking bottled water, make sure it’s fluoride-free. Last but not least,  plastic bottles also cause enormous environmental problems because of the sheer  volume of plastic  waste they create; the lack of adequate recycling capability for plastics; and the amount of oil required to manufacture them.

The Health Benefits of ‘Living Water’

The answer to all these health- and environmental issues is to minimize or  eliminate your use of plastic water bottles. The most economical and  environmentally sound choice you can make is to purchase and install a water  filter for your home. And, in lieu of plastic bottles, use reusable glass water  bottles instead, which have a much smaller ecological footprint.

The very best water, however, comes from a natural gravity-fed spring. I  do not recommend drinking distilled  water on a regular basis. It’s too acidic, and is not recommended for  extended use, although it  can be  beneficial for temporary detoxification purposes. The ideal pH of your water  should be between 6.5 to 7.5, which is neutral. What  you want is pure water that is clean, pH balanced, and “alive.”

Mountain spring water is ideal. Not only does it have a  healthy pH, but it’s also “structured” in a way that is not well understood.  I’ve previously interviewed Dr.  Gerald Pollack on this subject. He’s one of the leading research scientists  in the world when it comes to understanding the physics of water, and what it  means to your health. His book, The  Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor, clearly explains  the theory of the fourth phase of water, which is nothing short of  ground-breaking.

The fourth phase of  water is, in a nutshell, living water. It’s referred to as EZ  water—EZ standing for “exclusion zone”—which has a negative charge. This  water can hold energy, much like a battery, and can deliver energy, too. This  is the kind of water your cells contain; even your extracellular tissues  are filled with EZ water, which is why he believes it’s so important to drink  structured water for optimal health.

I drink vortexed water nearly exclusively as I became a big  fan of Viktor Schauberger, who did much pioneering work on vortexing about a  century ago. Dr. Pollack confirms that by creating a vortex in a glass of water,  you’re putting more energy into it, thereby increasing EZ. Water from deep  sources, such as deep spring water, is an excellent choice as EZ water is also  created under pressure. FindaSpring.com5 is an excellent resource that can help you find a natural spring nearby. As an  added boon, collecting spring water is usually free—you just need to bring your  own jugs. I recommend using glass jugs instead of plastic, for all the reasons  discussed earlier.

Healthy  Additives for a Touch of Flavor

As more people are becoming aware of the health dangers of soda, the  beverage industry has created a whole new breed of “healthy” beverages—so  called “functional” and enhanced  waters, fortified with everything from vitamins and minerals to  electrolytes, oxygen, fiber, and even protein. But if you take a closer look at  the labels, you’ll discover they’re spiking your punch with a lot of unsavory  ingredients, many capable of wreaking havoc on your metabolism, hormones, and  other physiological processes. Many contain loads of sugar, making them no  better than soda…

For occasions when you do want a dash of flavor, simply add some fresh  lemon or lime juice to your water. As noted in a previous Huffington Post  article,6 lemon water has over a dozen health benefits, from easing constipation and  urinary tract infections, to boosting your immune system, cleansing your liver,  and improving your skin.

Sliced cucumbers can also add a refreshing twist. If you want a touch of  sweetness, add some natural Stevia or Luo Han Guo,  which are among the safest sugar  substitutes. Alternatively, simply add a drop or two of natural peppermint  extract or a few crushed mint leaves from your herb garden. If you want an  electrolyte type “sports drink,” try coconut water, which is a rich natural  source of potassium and electrolytes. Look for one that has no additives. Or  choose a fresh, young coconut and harvest it yourself.

For Optimal Health, You Need Pure Water, and Enough of It

There’s no doubt that you  need pure water for optimal health. Simply swapping out all the sweetened,  bottled beverages you indulge in for pure water can go a long way toward  improving your health—and your weight.  The amount, however, is something you need to  fine tune based on your individual circumstances.

Remember to listen to your  body. Thirst is an obvious signal that it’s high time to replenish your fluids.  Fatigue and moodiness can also indicate you need to drink more water. Probably  the best way to gauge your water needs however, is to observe the color of your  urine, and how frequently you urinate. On average, a healthy number of bathroom  visits is around seven or eight per day, and you want the color of your urine  to be a light, pale yellow.


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