Am I Drinking Enough Water?
Dehydration Signs and Symptoms to look out for....
It may not be what you think..
Over the past couple of months, I was starting to experience an increase of anxiety, heart palpitations, (with excessive exercise), belly discomfort under the ribs with increased sensations in the area, dizziness, and increased joint aches. I had also noticed an increase of anxiety with other more severe PMS symptoms. It was the palpitations that was making me nervous, since my family has a history of heart related problems. So, of course, my mind decides I’m either dying or going thru menopause. It is amazing how the mind works, isn’t it?
Being that I hadn’t had a physical in over 3 years, I figured it was time to just get myself checked out either way, just to be sure everything was ok. Piece of mind is everything, especially, if you are prone to anxiety.
So, I went to see the doc. They took my blood work, and it seemed that my levels were pretty good. My cholesterol level showed me in “protection mode” where my HDL is high enough to keep the arteries clean, and LDL was low enough to be cleared of obvious issues, so my heart seemed to be in good shape, but it didn’t explain the palpitations I was having. My kidneys seemed to be in good order, although, my BUN and Creatinine levels indicated slight dehydration. I thought nothing of it, and the doc kind of dismissed it as well. Since my concern was the palpitations at high levels of exercise, she decided to send me to a heart specialist for a possible stress test to be sure that everything was ok. After telling her my family history with the heart, she indicated I should probably go sooner than later.
I have to admit, my practice with mindfulness over the years has certainly paid off. If this happened five years ago, I would have been up all night worrying about it, or giving myself panic attacks in anticipation. But, instead, I went about my life focusing on what mattered at the moment, trying not to give it much thought. When you don’t have control over a situation, there is no reason to waste energy worrying about it. If a negative thought came to mind, I would just smile and be proud with what my bloodwork revealed, to change that negative to a positive, then went about my business.
So off to the heart specialist I go, and after he does a short examination, he asks me about my exercise habits. After hearing my answer that I was a yoga instructor, he obviously didn’t seem too concerned about how I exercise, so he decided to look deeper into my blood work. He paused for a moment, and the next question that comes out of his mouth is, “How much water do you drink?” Confused about the question, since my concern was my heart, I just looked at him, and said, “I’m pretty sure I’m getting enough.”
“Are you?” he asked. “I think so.” I said.
“But how much is that?” he asked. “Exactly how many ounces are you drinking per day?” “Honestly,” I said, “I really haven’t been paying much attention to it lately. I guess its possible, since I’ve been pretty busy, that I’m not consuming the amount that I should.” Then I stopped myself as I’m realizing the following, “Hmmmm…hang on..with the weather starting to change, I guess I have been lessening my intake, and now that I’m thinking about it, being that its not as humid anymore, I really I haven’t been grabbing the water bottle as much lately. I also have increased the amount of tea I’ve been drinking at night to soothe my mind and body before bed.”
“Caffeinated?” he asked. “Never!” I said. “I stay away from all caffeine products.”
“What tea do you drink?” he asked. “Herbals, and mostly Peppermint, but will drink Chamomile, to calm my belly and to settle in my body at night.” I replied, and as I’m saying the words, it’s dawning on me the answer as I start to nod my head as he starts to speak.
Without a blink of his eyes, he said, “You’re dehydrated.” I just looked at him. He said that even though it may appear that I’m getting enough fluid, the tea in itself is dehydrating. Add onto it the amount of exercise I do, increases the amount of need for additional water. He stated that in addition, Floridians and people who live in other sub-tropical or tropical locations need to overly increase their water intake to compensate for the different climate.
After he said this, it dawned on me not only about the tea, but about what I’ve been eating as well. Foods can be dehydrating, especially if they have a diuretic component to them. If you’ve ever eaten garlicy food, (something that I have been consuming A LOT of lately), did you ever notice that you may get a “dry” feeling of the mouth a couple of hours after? This is an effect of garlic, so if you consume a lot of garlic, you should replenish the fluids lost with additional water.
I think I looked at him dumbfounded at the simplicity of it all. I KNOW all this. I KNOW tea is dehydrating. (Especially, Chamomile, since it has a tendency to have one run to the bathroom.) I KNOW that when I exercise it increases the need to intake more fluid. I KNOW that living in Florida increases my need for additional fluids. I KNOW certain foods can have a diuretic affect. I KNOW all this. I’m a yoga instructor and certified nutritionist by gosh-darnit, and I tell people almost daily about the importance of getting enough water!
So, still being skeptical about the variety of symptoms I’ve been having, I then asked, “So, which of my symptoms should go away after re-hydrating myself?” He simply smiled and said, “All of them!”
It was at that moment in his office, I realized, I wasn’t following the advice that I give to my own students, and that I need to be more observant on how I’m taking care of me. I’m not perfect, by any means, and obviously, even when I THINK I am doing all I can to keep myself healthy, sometimes it’s the simplest things that can make the most difference! One of the most important things we can do as yoga teachers, or any other profession for that matter, is to be sure that we are taking care of ourselves first! Take a moment in our busy lives to stop and listen to our bodies. They speak to us…we just have to listen!
How much water should I drink?
Daily water intake should be half a person’s body weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should take in 65 ounces of water per day. And that means WATER, and not other liquids like soda, tea, coffee, or juices. And that is a baseline. There are 33.8 ounces in a liter. So for me, weighing in about 134lbs, I need to drink 2 liters of water a day, just as a baseline alone. If I exercise, I would have to increase the amount of water on top of that. If I drink tea, or lay out in the sun, add even more. The best case for me is to drink between 2.5-3.5 liters of water per day depending on my activity level.
Now if you are a caffeine drinker, and I don’t personally drink caffeinated products, but if you do, plan on increasing that need even further. For every one cup (or 8 ounces) of coffee, you will need to drink an additional 8 ounces of water to compensate for the diuretic affects of the caffeine.
Other things to consider increasing your water intake for:
-Massages: When working the muscles of the body, you release energy which then requires you to replenish the body with water. The deeper the massage, the more water you should drink to replenish.
-Vibrational or energy work: Any type of energy work like cranial / sacral, Reiki, or listening to the vibrational sounds of crystal and Tibetan bowls can have an affect on the fluid levels of the body, since, in a way, its like doing a form of exercise, as well as a form of release. Energy with Reiki, allows for heat, and vibrational movement with sounds allows for subtle movement in the body, which increases the need for water.
-Foods that are diuretic in nature, (ex. asparagus, lemons, apple cider vinegar, Chamomile tea), can allow you to excrete more water from the body, which increases the need for more water.
-PMS: Hormones like estrogen and progesterone fluctuate during PMS, which can then influence how your body reacts to hydration. Increased anxiety during this time, can be a good indicator that you may need to increase your water intake.
-Stress: This is more obvious one, since the more stressed we are, the more energy is released from the body, causing us to have a need for more water intake. When we don’t drink enough fluids, our body will tell us by increasing anxiety levels in the body.
-Alcohol: Hydration is a must when consuming alcohol. For every one drink, one should have a glass of water of equal amount to level out hydration levels.
-Salt: Processed foods (which I do not recommend eating), can contain an abundance of sodium, which can aide in dehydration. Restaurants have a tendency to add more salt to foods for the additional flavors. Just be sure to replenish your body after consuming additional salty foods.
Symptoms of dehydration:
Typically, first and foremost, take the time to listen to your body. Check your urine output and that its nice and clear. (Something I neglected to stay on top of.)
Notice any symptoms such as:
So, it has been three weeks since I’ve “re-hydrated” myself and I have to say the effects have been amazing. Most, if not all of my symptoms have subsided.
Keep smiling, keep positive, let the little things go, and STAY HYDRATED!
Love and peace..
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Michelle has a BS, E-RYT, YACEP, CHN, CLYL, and Y12SRL.