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By Christina Macone-Greene
Special to Village News 

Is your body begging?

Feel hungry? Experts say your body may just be craving water

 

Last updated 1/14/2021 at 11:09am

man drinking water

Village News/Courtesy photo

Experts say many individuals assume they are having hunger pangs when in fact their body is simply begging for water. It seems as though that rumbling feeling in the stomach can also be indicative of a 'dehydration alert,' and water is what's needed.

For most healthy people, letting "thirst be your guide" is their general rule of thumb, but it's always a good idea to have a bottle of water on hand.

Harmful effects of dehydration

With the summer season approaching, one must pay careful attention to the dangers of dehydration. A lack of water can lead to symptoms that range from mild to severe. 

Generally, the first symptom of dehydration will begin with thirst. When a body loses two percent of its fluid, some of these mild signs may appear:

• Chills

• Dizziness

• Dry mouth

• Dry skin

• Fatigue or weakness

• Headaches and head rushes

• Loss of appetite

If ignored, dehydration can develop into a severe situation. Significant symptoms can include extreme thirst, fever, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, decreased sweating, little or no urination, muscle cramps, headaches, nausea and/or vomiting, dim vision, confusion, and chest and abdominal pain. 

"Severe dehydration is a medical emergency," said Joyce Berenson, a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator based in Temecula.  

Water is vital to good health; doctors concur. While many try to make a conscious effort to drink more on a daily basis, some fall short at the end of the day.   Although individuals have heard of its benefits time and time again, a reminder of its positive effects is always a good idea. In fact, a gentle nudge can help one reach those water consumption goals.

The role of water

Depending on body size, water roughly makes up 60 percent of a person's weight. The role that water plays in the human body is enormous. According to Berenson, every system in the body depends on water.

Water is known to:

• Boost metabolism

• Carry nutrients to the cells

• Correct potassium deficiencies that can cause muscle cramps

• Form the basis of all body fluids including blood, saliva and digestive juices

• Help hydrate the skin  

• Help regulate body temperature

• Lubricate joints

• Provide a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues

Berenson said the Institute of Medicine has a rule of thumb in relation to water intake. Men are recommended to drink about thirteen cups a day whereas women are encouraged to consume nine cups.

"Every day, we lose water through our breath, perspiration, and eliminating waste," Berenson said. "You must replenish the loss by consuming beverages and foods that contain water."  

On average, an adult loses more than 10 cups of water per day. While particular foods, including most fruits and vegetables may account for 20 percent of fluid intake, one can continue to replace this deficit with drinking a proper amount of water.

After exercising, it's imperative to replenish one's body with water.

"Drinks that contain caffeine have a slight diuretic effect, but unless a person is particularly sensitive to caffeine, you don't need to drink more to compensate for the effects of the caffeine," she said. "However, if you find that you urinate excessively from caffeinated drinks, then drink one cup of water for each caffeinated beverage."

The water challenge

Drinking the recommended daily amount of water a body requires can be a challenge for some.

To remedy any chances of dehydration, Berenson said some find it helpful to add a packet of sugar-free flavoring to get the allotted amount down. For those conscious of their weight, however, it's important to keep track of those packet calories.  

"Many people find that adding a little fruit juice or a squeeze of lemon or lime gives water a nice flavor, and makes it more appealing to drink," Berenson said. "Another idea is to use a tall, pretty glass with a wedge of lime to make a glass of water more inviting." 

There are also a handful of ways to entice children to drink water. Kids learn by example, so parents need to lead by example or showcase water in their diet.

"Parents can put water in a colorful glass, use a colorful straw, or add a little juice to it to give it more flavor," she said.

Water should always be accessible to children. Packing miniature-sized water bottles in children's lunch bags and having them ready-to-go in the refrigerator is another way to encourage youth to drink more water.

However one chooses to increase their water intake, in the end, their body will thank them for it.

As with any significant dietary changes, one should consult their physician prior to making notable changes to their liquid intake, particularly if they are on a liquid-restricted diet or take certain prescription medications.

 

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