April 19, 2012 by Darlene McC
Feeling a little disagreeable this morning? Maybe a bit grumpy? Perhaps you’ve got a low grade headache or you feel more sore from yesterday’s workout then you should be? Try as you might, you can’t put your finger on why?
Maybe you’re dehydrated.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition by the American Society for Nutrition in December showed a notable increase in moodiness in mildly dehydrated women. How dehydrated? 1.36%! And with that very slight dehydration also came headaches, fatigue, soreness, and a decrease in physical and mental performance.
So why is that? (Get ready for a little Jr. High bio here) Water is a major component of your blood. Your blood is intended to flow easily through your arteries & veins, each cell bouncing along the walls of your circulatory system carrying oxygen and nutrients to the rest of your body. Over half of your blood is made of plasma, which is the fluid that carries the red and white blood cells.
Picture a water slide, but add a high powered pump at the beginning (that’s your heart). If there’s plenty of water in the slide you ride down fast and easy, screaming and laughing the whole way. Picture what would happen if there’s not enough water: your ass sticks to the slide sides, you get a nasty rash, and if there’s someone right behind you they smack into you, right!?
When you’re even mildly dehydrated your blood thickens and can’t flow as smoothly. That means your heart has to work harder and your muscles and organs aren’t getting what they need as quickly and efficiently as they should.
How do you know if you’re dehydrated?
Quick check: if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated (which means if seeing the drop on the leaf at the top made you thristy… you guessed it – you’re dehydrated RIGHT NOW.)
The easiest way to tell over the course of the day: the color of your urine. Yup, how dark is your pee? By mid-day you should already be running clear, and it should stay relatively light in color for the rest of the day. At lunch time, when you go pee, if it’s really dark use that as your reminder to go drink some water… or if by lunch you haven’t peed all morning that’s because you haven’t been drinking and you should! (GO DO IT!)
How much water do I need?
This is a great question and I get it during consultations all the time. Science hasn’t given us a concrete answer; but what we are starting to determine is the “8 by 8” rule is insufficient (meaning eight – 8oz glasses of water a day). The best I’ve come across is the idea that a bigger person needs more water and to use your urine as a gauge. Also, if you’re eating a high-fiber diet (and you should be) you need a bit more to “keep things moving”, if you catch my drift.
Try this Water Needs calculator on for size and see if you’re getting anything near what you should be.
And then go drink up!