Holly Jolly (Hydrated) Holidays December 22 2016, 1 Comment

Your mouth feels dry and sticky like it’s filled with syrup or sugar. You also feel sluggish and drowsy, even though the season has allowed you to catch up on much-needed sleep. Some chalk it up to end-of-year fatigue, and others call it the holiday blues, but doctors know the real cause of these symptoms: dehydration.

Many people don’t know when they’re dehydrated, and even more, don’t know the symptoms of dehydration. However, you can prevent it this winter by knowing the symptoms, and what to do about them.

What Causes Dehydration?

Dehydration has several causes, the holiday diet among them. During this time of year, we consume more simple sugars and salty food. We also consume fewer fruits and vegetables than typical, at other times. Holiday sweets bring elevated blood sugar, which causes increased urination and water loss. Salty food does the opposite, causing us to retain water and, thus, feel less thirsty. Both instances, however, rarely bring us to increase our water intake.

Symptoms of Dehydration

As mentioned above, symptoms of early-stage dehydration are hard to detect: your mouth may feel dry, and you may feel tired, but it’s normal to associate these signs with other lifestyle choices, like a poor diet or lack of sleep. In fact, we frequently misinterpret the dry mouth symptom as hunger.

However, as dehydration progresses, more symptoms crop up. For instance, you may develop a headache, because the body has depleted the water stores that surround the brain. You may also experience muscle cramping and weakness because a lack of water limits the flow of electrolytes through the blood stream.

In addition to giving attention to the symptoms, however, there are simple tests that will help you tell whether you need something to drink. The first, called a skin test, is when you pinch yourself, raising skin about ½ centimeter high. If your skin doesn’t spring back within a few seconds, you may be dehydrated. The second test, called the urine test, is a little more self-explanatory. If your urine is darker than light yellow, you need to hydrate better.

Staying Hydrated

We said before that staying hydrated is more difficult during the holidays, due to the holiday diet and our own difficulty identifying signs of dehydration. Luckily, there are many simple tips that you can follow to make hydration easier.

Beginning with the least obvious, try to maintain a diet full of fruits and vegetables, even during the busy, sugar-filled holiday season. Foods like grapes, oranges, and watermelon have up to 92% water and are excellent sources of vitamins C, B1, B2, B6, and K. Combined, the water content and electrolytes help you not only stay hydrated but prevent electrolyte deficiencies, as well. Vegetables, like broccoli, cucumbers, and green beans do similar work while adding fiber that will keep your dessert cravings at bay.

Unfortunately, not all holiday parties will have a vast selection of fruits and vegetables. If this is the case for you, then look for foods higher in water content, like gelatin dessert (Jell-O), fruit pies (crust optional), or even potatoes. While these may not be the most nutritious options, they can still help you attain your hydration goals while avoiding excessive fat, salt, and sugar levels.

Of course, if the food lets you down, you can still hydrate with the old-fashioned stuff, water, during the holidays. Eight, eight-ounce glasses per day are still recommended, but feel free to drink more if you still feel thirsty. What’s more, avoiding diuretic beverages, like alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, or adding an extra glass of water for every diuretic beverage consumed, will further prevent dehydration this season.

Finally, while water is great, purified water is even better. Whether visiting your loved ones or inviting them to your home this holiday season, make sure to have the best in water treatment with an Adya water filter or the portable Adya Clarity® water purification solution.

Sources:

 Borland, Sophie.  “Is dehydration the reason you’re tired ALL the time? One in five ‘don’t realise they need eight drinks a day.’” TheDailyMail, Associated Newspapers Ltd., 25 May 2015. url: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3096702/Could-one-five-GP-visits-dehydration-New-study-claims-fatigue-epidemic.html

George, Nancie.  “6 Unusual Signs of Dehydration.” EverydayHealth, Everyday Health Media, LLC, 1 Feb. 2016. url: http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/unusual-signs-of-dehydration/

“Grapes.” World’sHealthiestFoods, The George Mateljan Foundation, n.d. url: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=40

Lerner, Abby. “Top 30 Hydrating Foods.” Shape, Meredith Corporation, 2016. url: http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/top-30-hydrating-foods

“Oranges.” World’sHealthiestFoods, The George Mateljan Foundation, n.d. url: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=37

Szalay, Jessie.  “Watermelon: Health Benefits, Risks & Nutrition Facts.” LiveScience Reference, Purch, 7 Oct. 2014. url: http://www.livescience.com/46019-watermelon-nutrition.html

Verity, Alicia.  “Top 5 Ways to Stay Hydrated During the Holidays.” iTriage Health Blog, iTriage, 30 Nov. 2009. url: https://blog.itriagehealth.com/top-5-ways-to-stay-hydrated-during-the-holidays/