Tips and techniques

Health news: 8 ways your body is telling you you’re dehydrated

Suffering from one or two of these symptoms could be the effects of dehydration, and might mean it's time to load up on the H2O.

An old wives’ tale reckons that if you’re feeling thirsty, you’re actually already dehydrated.

And while that may not be strictly true – as the Huffington Post points out, your thirst levels are extremely sensitive – your body has other ways of making sure you know if it’s time to get snacking on some water-filled foods.

Bad moods: Research by the University of Connecticut found that dehydration can lead to fatigue, irritability, headaches and difficulty focusing. If you’re getting snappy, slice up some fresh cucumber and dip into homemade hummus with tahini. Much better.

Bad breath: Your saliva is full of antibacterial properties, so if you’re not getting enough water, your body can’t produce enough saliva and those bacteria can become overgrown. Iceberg lettuce is made up of a whopping 95 per cent water; pack an iceberg salad with parmesan and crispy prosciutto for your lunch to keep things fresh.

Muscle cramps: You’re more likely to cramp the hotter you get, but being dehydrated messes with the electrolyte balance in your body (particularly with sodium and potassium levels) and that can send your muscles into shutdown. Bananas can clamp down on cramps, while celery is chock-a-block with water and can prevent them in the first place.

Food cravings: Craving something sweet could be a sign that your body is having a problem with producing glycogen; reach for a watermelon and mint granita instead to help your body out.

Headaches: Pounding head? That, more than likely, has something to do with your hydration levels. Alcohol, caffeine and energy drinks can cause dehydration, so stick to still water and look for something with cauliflower in it for dinner. With more than 90 per cent water, this humble veg will set you on the path to recovery in no time; plus, cauliflower “fried rice” is a totally delicious dinner option.

Skin “tenting”: Pinch the back of your hand, hold it for a few seconds and let it go. If your skin snaps back to normal, sharpish, you’re all good; if it’s slow and “tents”, it’s time to rehydrate. Skin elasticity decreases along with fluid loss, which means that eating water-filled foods like capsicum (yes, really) can also ward off wrinkles and help keep you younger. Slice your bell peppers up and enjoy with tzatziki.

Dizziness: If you’re feeling a tad woozy when standing up from your desk, your body is trying to tell you to top up your water bottle. Blood volume and pressure drops when you’re dehydrated, which is what brings on that rush of light-headedness. Tomatoes have a high water content, so dice some through your lunchtime salad or layer them into your sandwich for an easy fix.

Blurred vision: If you’re low on fluid your eyes can become dry, leading to blurry vision. If you’re staring at a computer screen all day – or driving – that can become a major problem. Fruits like strawberries and oranges are a great non-liquid source of water, so keep them handy for a delicious snack that your body will thank you for.

By Deirdre Fogarty

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