NEW YORK – Hot summer days now arrive and 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 7 surprising causes of dehydration and how to prevent them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Forget hangovers. Even a well-behaved happy hour could deplete your fluid levels. Why? Because drinking makes you go to the bathroom.
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.