Athletes know the importance of making sure to stay hydrated. With the amount of physical activity that they participate in and the sheer amount of sweat that pours off their body, replenishing is essential.
But what about non-athletes? What role does hydration play in the life of an office worker or a stay at home mom?
Let's uncover the importance of hydration for regular people. If you don’t consider yourself an active person and you want to know if you need to up your hydration game, read on.
Why hydration is so important
There isn’t a function in the body that does not require the use of water. Water is crucially important!
Our bodies are made up mostly of water, and the body doesn’t make its own supply of water. So it makes sense that when we fail to provide adequate hydration, our bodies suffer.
Do you have a headache? You might need to hydrate. Are you constipated? You might need to hydrate. Do you lack energy? You might need to hydrate. So many symptoms can be alleviated with a nice tall glass of H2O.
Our short and long term health is affected if we don’t get enough hydration regularly. In fact, it only takes a couple of days of dehydration to die. That’s how important hydration is to us, humans.
Mental benefits of staying hydrated
The brain needs water to function at its best. With proper hydration, your blood can flow freely, delivering much-needed oxygen to the brain.
When you are even remotely dehydrated, it can come out in your mood. We’ve all heard of being hangry, but just as being hungry can make you irritable, so does being thirsty. Water takes part in the production and release of hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin, adrenaline, and dopamine.
A slight lack of water can make it hard for you to concentrate, it can affect your short-term memory, and it can cause you to be less alert. This has been proven to be true in as little of dehydration as just 2.8%.
When your brain isn’t working at top-notch levels, your entire life can take a hit. With low levels of alertness, you can suffer from many accidents and clumsiness. Without the best concentration, you might be making mistakes at work that could affect your chances of getting that promotion you were hoping for.
Think about how a lack of mental energy can affect how you feel. You can experience a lack of motivation, causing you to skimp on your to-do list consistently.
On the flip side, if you are well hydrated, you will be able to have a better cognitive function. Being more aware throughout the day, alert, ready to concentrate on difficult tasks, and even smile more often. Staying hydrated might seem like such a small thing, but it really does a wonder of good.
Physical benefits of staying hydrated
When you drink water, it helps the blood deliver oxygen throughout the body.
That increase in oxygen delivered to your muscles and organs helps your body immensely. This is where athletes depend on hydration because it gives their muscles the energy they need to perform well.
Regular people, however, should also ensure that they get adequate water intake as well because every organ in the body depends on hydration to function properly.
Take, for example, the digestive system. Without water, our bowels can’t do their job. When our intestines aren’t doing their job, it adds more stress to the other organs in the digestive system. Our stomachs take on more acid, which can lead to heartburn and indigestion. We can begin to suffer from constipation, UTI’s, ulcers, and other problems.
When we hydrate regularly and to the right extent, we will have a healthy digestive system that cleans itself well, and we won’t suffer from any of the above mentioned digestive problems.
Next, let’s discuss the respiratory system. Our airways and lungs need water to be able to flush them out and keep the air flowing well. When we don’t have adequate hydration, our allergies are worsened, and asthma conditions can develop.
Our kidneys are responsible for keeping the fluids in our bodies regulated. When you drink your water, the kidneys are the ones who decide where to send it to first. The kidneys also use water to flush out waste products in our bodies. Of course, when the kidneys don’t have water to rely on, you can develop kidney problems such as kidney stones and failure.
Your joints rely on regular lubrication to stay healthy and to do their jobs, which is to reduce friction between the bones. A lack of hydration can cause them to become weak, and you will begin to feel more pain and stiffness in these areas.
If we spend any time in the heat, our bodies use water to absorb the higher temperature and release it through our pores. We know this as perspiration. If we don’t have enough water to sweat, our body temperatures can begin to rise, and we could suffer from a heat stroke.
Hydrated blood flows well and delivers much needed water-soluble vitamins throughout the body. Dehydrated blood thickens and causes a spike in blood pressure, putting extra stress on the heart.
Water is used to form saliva and mucus. These two substances play a vital role in lubricating our eyes, mouth, and nose. It also helps to keep them clean through tears, mucus excretion, and spit.
Proper hydration also helps to keep our skin youthful, bright and prevents wrinkles. Drinking lots of water can also help you lose weight and keep your metabolism up. So, proper hydration doesn’t just make you feel better, but it helps you look better, too.
What happens when you don’t hydrate
Without adequate hydration, your bodily functions shut down one by one until you die...
Like we said: water is important!
Obviously, that is the most extreme case, but this certainly highlights the essential need of the body to be hydrated. Depending on the makeup of your unique body, you’ll begin to feel a montage of symptoms due to dehydration.
These can include:
- dry mouth
- dark urine
- concentration problems
- poor eyesight
- dry skin and chapped lips
Severe dehydration can cause:
- inability to urinate
- a fast heartbeat
- faster breathing
How to make sure you are hydrated
Hopefully, you aren’t experiencing any of these symptoms. If you are worried about your hydration levels, there are recommended daily fluid intake amounts for different individuals.
Men: 3.7 Liters of fluid
Women: 2.7 Liters of fluid
You can get fluid from foods, too, so keep that in mind when doing your math. Fruits and vegetables can have high water content. You can also get water from drinks other than water, but you should keep sugary drinks to a minimum as they can exacerbate dehydration.
You should also take into consideration that these numbers will be higher for anyone who spent any time in the heat or who are sick with diarrhea or vomiting, or a fever. Women who are lactating or pregnant should also increase their fluid intake.
In summary: hydration is important for everyone
Proper hydration is vital to everyone, not just athletes. Our bodies rely on adequate fluids to function at its best. If you want to be healthy, you can’t just focus on the foods you eat, but you should also include hydration monitoring into your daily habits.
There are a few habits that you can include in your daily routine that can help you be successful. You can fill a jug of water that needs to be finished by the end of the day to help you meet your daily requirements. You can also download an app that allows you to track your water intake.