6 Dehydration Facts That May Surprise You
Humans have an unquenchable thirst for water. It’s the most important nutrient for us on the planet, and ideally, we should be drinking water every day. For many, it’s a challenge to keep up with this near-constant need for water.
Dehydration is one of the most common preventable medical conditions in the world, and it affects millions in the United States. Yet for something so common, most of us are unaware of its dangers. Here are a few things you might not know about dehydration:
1. 75 Percent of Americans Are Chronically Dehydrated. A survey of 3,003 Americans [i] found that 75 percent likely had a net fluid loss, resulting in chronic dehydration. Although the survey found that Americans drank about eight servings of hydrating beverages per day, this is offset by drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol and eating a diet high in sodium.
2. Dehydration Causes Fatigue. A pair of recent studies [ii] found that young people who were mildly dehydrated were much more likely to feel fatigued [iii] during moderate exercise and even when sedentary. Unsurprisingly, fatigue is a common dehydration symptom, and it’s said to be the No. 1 cause of midday fatigue.
3. Thirst Means You’re Dehydrated. Dehydration triggers the body’s thirst response. So when you feel thirsty, dehydration is already setting in. In many experiments, just 1 to 2 percent dehydration has been shown to trigger thirst [iv]. This level of dehydration can happen quickly, especially following intense exercise or when battling viruses.
4. Dehydration Causes Foggy Memory, Irritability, and More. Dehydration, even mild dehydration, has been shown to put stress on our cognitive functioning. In younger adults, for instance, dehydration was linked to a dip in concentration and short-term memory, as well as an increase in feelings of anxiety and irritability. With children, studies are more conclusive that hydration can improve attention and memory. [v]
5. Hydration Can Boost Your Metabolism. Although the evidence is limited, your metabolism could benefit from drinking cold water. In fact, one study found that drinking cold water helped boost healthy men and women’s metabolic rate by 30 percent. [vi] The researchers concluded that the body expended more energy heating the cold water, which resulted in the boost in metabolism.
6. Dehydration Is One of the Most Common Risk Factors for Kidney Stones. A landmark 1990 study [vii] examined the causes of kidney stones in more than 700 patients. Chronic dehydration, caused by a variety of factors, was believed to be a factor in about 20 percent of cases. More recently, researchers have examined the link more in-depth. In one five-year randomized trial [viii], patients with kidney stones were told to drink more water, which resulted in a drop in kidney stone recurrence.
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