7 Surprising Reasons You're Dehydrated

Sunday, May 25, 2014
Your body is about 60 percent water. Lose even 1.5 percent of that H2O -- the tipping point for mild dehydration -- and your mood, energy levels, and cognitive function all drop, according to research from the University of Connecticut. And while there are obvious reasons you can end up dehydrated-a sunny day, exercise, or not drinking enough in general-other triggers are less obvious.

Check out these 14 surprising causes of dehydration and how to prevent them.

Low-carb diets

Carbohydrates are stored in your body right along with fluids. That's why you drop a couple pounds of water weight when you eliminate carbs. That might look good on your scale, sure, but it's bad news for your hydration levels, says dietitian Jaime Mass, RD.

Plus, since whole carbs such as oatmeal, whole grain pasta, and brown rice all soak up water during the cooking process, eating them can actually increase your hydration levels. Cut them from your diet and you could be unwittingly reducing your fluid intake, too.

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Stress

When you're under stress, your adrenal glands pump out stress hormones. And if you're constantly under pressure, eventually your adrenals become exhausted, causing an adrenal insufficiency, Dr. Kominiarek says.

Problem is, the adrenals also produce the hormone aldosterone, which helps regulate your body's levels of fluid and electrolytes. So as adrenal fatigue progresses, your body's production of aldosterone drops, triggering dehydration and low electrolyte levels, he says. While increasing fluid intake can help in the short term, mediating your stressors is the only real long-term solution.

Aging

As you age, your body's ability to conserve water as well as its sensation for thirst declines, meaning it's easier so become dehydrated and more difficult to tell when you're fluids are low, says Mass.

If you have trouble remembering to drink water throughout the day, try making a game of it. Keep a bottle of water near you at all times and, each day, keep a running total of how much you've consumed.

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Dietary supplements

Just because it's "natural" doesn't mean is can't send your bladder into overdrive. For example, parsley, celery seed, dandelion, and watercress have all been shown to increase urine output, which could potentially lead to dehydration, Mass says.

If you are thinking about taking a dietary supplement-or are already taking one-it's best to speak with a nutritionist, primary care doctor, or naturopathic physician about any potential side effects.

High altitudes

When you travel to high altitudes, your body acclimates by speeding up your breathing as well as increasing your urine output. While both are necessary to a healthy adjustment to the altitude and its oxygen levels, constantly peeing and panting-which causes you to exhale more water vapor than usual-can cause dehydration.

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Drinking alcohol

Forget hangovers. Even a well-behaved happy hour could deplete your fluid levels. Why? Because drinking makes you go to the bathroom.

Alcohol inhibits an antidiuretic hormone that would normally send some of the fluid you're consuming back into the body, and instead sends it to your bladder. Meanwhile, thanks to the diuretic effect of alcohol, your cells shrink, pushing more water out to your bladder. All this lowers your body's hydration levels, Mass explains. What's more, since alcohol impairs your ability to sense the early signs of dehydration-such as thirst and fatigue-it's easy to drink well past your dehydration point.

Eating too few fruits and vegetables

Filling half of your plate at each meal with produce can score you up to two extra cups of water a day. So, put another way, if you don't eat your five-a-day, and don't compensate (at least from a fluid perspective) by drinking extra water, you could easily wind up dehydrated.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.
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