Drinking water and staying hydrated sounds like common sense, yet recent statistics found that in the UK 60% drink just one glass of water a day.

Are you one of the many depriving your body of it’s most important element?

In this article we will cover how you can recognise the surprising signs of early dehydration and the uncommon benefits of staying hydrated throughout the day, then we’ll provide you with the most optimal sources of hydration as well as how much you should drink for best results.

Lets get started!

The surprising symptoms of dehydration

The body is made up of between 60 and 70% water and plays some very important roles including in transport of substances, temperature regulation, digestion and lubricating joints.

The problem is that by the time your thirst mechanism kicks you may already be dehydrated, which explains how recent studies have found that up to 2/3 of us experience periods of dehydration unknowingly in a typical day.

Let’s check out some of the lesser known symptoms of dehydration:

Are you feeling tired or fatigued?

A recent survey of UK Doctors found that feeling tired and fatigue was the primary cause of one in five GP consultations, and in almost half (49%) of instances it turned out to be because of dehydration[1]!

Are you always feeling hungry, even though you’ve recently eaten?

Did you know, mild dehydration is often masked as a feeling of hunger, when really your body just needs fluids.

It turns out the confusion[2] can happen in the hypothalamus part of the brain which regulates appetite and thirst, making you think you’re hungry when in fact your body is craving hydration.

Infrequent or dark concentrated urine?

Infrequent or dark coloured urine is a sign your kidneys are working harder retaining fluids in order to ensure your essential bodily functions.

As a rule of thumb you should be drinking enough water to turn your urine a light coloured yellow, and a healthy person urinates on average seven to eight times a day.

Do you experience joint pain and stiffness?

Many people link joint pain and stiffness to ageing, but what many don’t realise is that a lack of optimal hydration can affect joint health.

In particular, dehydration can affect our production of Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) which are a gel like liquid which provides cushioning, lubrication and nutrition to the cartilage in our joints, and a lack of this can result in painful joints.

Do you experience bad breath?

Did you know saliva has antibacterial properties, which prevent material overgrowth, which can cause bad breath? Not drinking enough water short-circuits this important process.

Is your skin dry, dull or with pronounced wrinkles

Whilst there isn’t a clear correlation yet between radiant skin and higher water intake, your skin is an organ and as it is made up of cells it requires water like all other cell types to function at its best.

The uncommon benefits of staying hydrated throughout the day

As we saw in the previous section, by hydrating throughout the day you can improve these core areas: Energy, hunger management, vital organ and kidney function, cartilage and joints lubrication, oral health and supply your cells with the water they need for optimal function.

But drinking water can also make you burn more calories!

Studies[3] have found that the amount of calories you burn (known as resting energy expenditure) increases by 24-30% within 10 minutes of drinking cold water.

Other studies have also found that drinking 1.5L of water in general can also help promote a reduction of weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and body fat, with the strongest effect associated with colder water due to the thermogenesis effect.

Water hacks: When to drink water for optimal results?

Drinking water after waking up activates internal organs

When you wake up, your body is in a naturally dehydrated state, so hydrating first thing in the morning is a great way to counter this and activate your internal organs.

Drinking water 30 minute before meals can reduce appetite

Studies have found that drinking water before meals was associated with a reduction in appetite, and delayed hunger pangs.

This also helps with digestion, providing your gut with the water it needs to process nutrients and evacuate toxins.

Which drinks count towards your water intake?

For optimal results we recommend pure spring water, but other drinks such as infused water, tea, coffee, juices, can to a certain extent contribute too.

That said, apply moderation to drinks which can have a diuretic effect (coffee and some teas), and be weary of the sugar content of juices and sports drinks with electrolytes which can offset the original benefits of their water content.

What’s the optimal amount of water to drink daily?

We recommend around 1.5L a day of water, but the amount you should drink is going to be determined by your gender, your activity level and the environment that you live in.

If you are very active and live in a hot, humid area you will need more water than an individual who is less active and lives in a colder area.

A good general rule is that you should consume enough fluid to pass clear and plentiful urine around five to six times a day. You should also consume more fluid when you exercise as sweating will cause your body to lose even more fluid.

[1] http://www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk/press/gps-reveal-uk-tired-all-the-time/

[2] According to A Ramsey, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661958