All living things require two essential elements to survive: oxygen and water. Imaginably, water can thus be considered a critical element that keeps us alive.
In the body, water intake must balance water loss (i.e., water excretion). In other words: the amount of water you consume daily should equate to your daily fluid loss. Fail to do that, and you’ll run into plenty of health issues. On the other hand, consuming adequate fluids allows you to meet your body’s needs for specific trace elements. This, in turn, boosts both skin health and immune system functioning. Adequate water intake reduces your risk of developing colds, urinary tract infections, and kidney stones.
That said, how would one know if they’re consuming an “adequate” amount of water daily? There’s no need for guesswork. There are numerous hydration testing methods (e.g., the urine specific gravity test) available capable of assessing an individual’s hydration status. As a result, it is now easier than ever for you to stay well-hydrated for optimal health.
What is a urine-specific gravity test?
A urine-specific gravity test compares the density of your urine to the density of water. This test determines how well your kidneys are diluting your urine, which then provides valuable insights into your hydration status.
What is the urine-specific gravity used for?
The urine-specific gravity test is primarily used as a method to determine an individual’s hydration status. When viewed in light of other health parameters, the urine-specific gravity test can also provide information relating to kidney health.
What are the possible results?
There are two things you need to be mindful of. The first is that water’s specific gravity value is 1,000. And the second is that the more concentrated fluid is (i.e., the more particles it contains), the higher its specific gravity value. So, since urine contains various waste products filtered out by the kidneys, we’d naturally expect its specific gravity value to measure higher than 1,000. Although it varies slightly between different laboratories, the normal urine-specific gravity values are between 1,005 and 1,035. If you’re overhydrated, your urine-specific gravity will typically show a value close to 1,000. On the contrary, if you’re dehydrated, your urine-specific gravity will typically show a value of more than 1,020.
Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluids than you consume. For reference: the human body is known to lose an average of 2.5-3 liters of water daily. When you fail to replace this water loss, you deprive your body (65% of which is made up of water) of the water and fluid that are necessary for it to perform its routine functions. You’re not just depriving your body of simply water, either. You’re also failing to replenish the loss of important minerals – including sodium, and potassium – that regulate your body’s electrolyte balance.
Mild signs of dehydration include the sensation of thirst, muscle cramps, headache, dryness, and coldness of the skin, decreased urination and dark yellow urine, dry and sticky mouth.
Severe dehydration signs include having difficulty with urinating, urine that is very dark yellow or amber, dry and wrinkled skin, confusion, increased heart rate, breathing, dizziness, and low blood pressure (especially when standing up).
The basic causes of dehydration include forgetting to drink water, not having enough water on hand, and not being able to consume enough while on the move. That said, there are also many other reasons for dehydration. Find a summary below.
Sudden onset of severe diarrhea and accompanying vomiting, high fever caused by infection or heat stroke, excessive sweating due to excessive exercise or high temperature, excessive urination due to chronic diseases such as diabetes, diseases that cause the kidneys to lose their water retention, diuretics, blood pressure, and antihistaminic drugs, alcohol consumption, endurance sports such as marathon running, climbing, and triathlon.
Dehydration can cause:
- Decrease in athletic performance
- Decrease in cognitive functions
- Higher-than-normal heart rate
- Migraine attack
Replacing lost fluids and electrolytes is the most effective method to treat dehydration. That said, it’s worth noting that the best approach to dehydration depends on three factors: the individual’s age, the severity of dehydration, and the cause of dehydration. In cases of mild and moderate dehydration (due to diarrhea, vomiting, or fever), increasing water consumption is typically the most appropriate solution. If fluids are lost through intense physical exertion, the intake of electrolytes–containing fluids may be preferred. And in cases of severe dehydration, promptly seeking professional medical help (e.g., at the nearest medical center) should be the first course of action.
Benefits of staying hydrated
Staying well hydrated helps maintain the balance of body fluids. While you may not be aware of it, your body loses large amounts of water every minute – from breathing, skin evaporation, urine, and stool. These fluid losses must be replenished for good health. More specifically, drinking plenty of water is crucial for optimal physical performance, cognitive function, and even joint health. In other words: staying well hydrated is key to becoming the best, healthiest version of yourself.
Does enough water help prevent health problems?
Water is defined as an essential nutrient because it’s required in amounts that exceed the body’s ability to produce it. All biochemical reactions occur in water. It thus plays a crucial role in the digestion, absorption, and transportation of our food to the cells, the formation of biochemical reactions necessary for life and health, the functioning of cells, tissues, organs, and systems, transport and disposal of dangerous substances resulting from metabolism, control of body temperature and lubrication of joints. That’s not all water does, either. It also provides essential minerals such as magnesium, and fluorine. Thus, it’s clear for all to see that the regulation of water balance (through the adequate consumption of water) is essential for the maintenance of life and good health.
Related: Vivoo Water Box
How much water do we really need?
How much water you need depends on many factors (e.g., age, weight, health status, medication, exercise, and weather condition) – and, thus, can vary significantly from person to person. In general, though, research indicates that an adult woman should drink 2.7 liters of water daily, and a man 3.7 liters daily. Beyond meeting your water needs through liquids, you can also increase your fluid intake via foods high in water content. Yes, they count, too. Put simply, you can “eat your water”. Examples of fruits and vegetables that are high in water content include melons (e.g., watermelons), strawberries, bell peppers, and cucumbers.
How do I know if I’m drinking enough water?
Signs and symptoms that you’re dehydrated (i.e., not drinking enough water) include dry mouth, dry skin, joint pain, prolonged illness, fatigue, frequent hunger, and various digestive problems.
Drinking too much water can be dangerous to health. And there’s a name for this phenomenon: “overhydration”. Overhydration can lead to water poisoning. This occurs when the amount of salt and other electrolytes in your body becomes too diluted.
There are two main causes of overhydration. The first is excessive water intake, where you’re simply drinking way more water than the kidneys can handle – which causes water to pool in the bloodstream. The second cause of overhydration is a medical problem that keeps your kidneys from getting rid of extra water (i.e., “fluid retention”). No matter its underlying cause, though, overhydration in and of itself is dangerous. The primary concern of overhydration is a condition known as “hyponatremia”, where the sodium level in the blood gets dangerously low. When this happens, the body cells draw in higher amounts of water, which results in “swollen” cells. They can cause serious health conditions.
The most common symptom of overhydration is a headache. Overhydration can also manifest as feelings of nervousness and confusion. The most severe symptoms of overhydration include having increased blood pressure, and numbness. Nausea, vomiting, body swelling, and muscle spasms can also be seen.
At its core, overhydration is an imbalance of fluids. It happens when your body takes in or holds on to more fluids than your kidneys can remove. This can happen due to two reasons: the first is drinking way too much water, and the second is the body simply not being able to remove the excess water. Ultimately, both reasons cause water levels in the body to rise. It’s important to note that your exact water needs vary according to age, gender, weather conditions, activity level, etc. You’d typically need a higher than average fluid intake under conditions like extreme heat, strenuous activity, long duration of exercise, and various illnesses accompanied by a fever. In a healthy person, urine serves as a good indicator of their hydration status (e.g., whether they’re overhydrated).
Certain medications or health conditions can cause your body to retain water, which leads to overhydration. Examples include:
- Congestive heart failure
- Liver disease
- Kidney problems
- Uncontrolled diabetes
On the other hand, there are also medications and health conditions that could make you dehydrated, which then requires a higher water intake. These include:
- Dry mouth
The specific type of treatment prescribed for overhydration depends on its cause, along with the severity of symptoms. Treatments may include:
- Reducing fluid intake,
- Stopping the medications that cause the problem
- Changing sodium intake habits in severe cases
Why use Vivoo?
Vivoo provides you with a straightforward and fuss-free method of telling if you’re appropriately hydrated. With a simple test, you’d be able to learn about your hydration status in real-time (right this second), plus get personalized tips on how you could ensure proper hydration depending on the situation you’re in. This is especially useful if you juggle a packed schedule – and struggle with remembering to drink up over the course of a typical day.
How Vivoo keeps us on track
Vivoo helps you determine your body’s hydration level in real-time by measuring your urine’s specific gravity. This is made possible with the urine test strips Vivoo offers. Vivoo then provides personalized lifestyle and nutritional advice – based on the test results – to ensure optimal hydration levels anytime, anywhere. Always.
What affects water consumption?
The total amount of water to be consumed can be changed by taking into account daily activities, the climate, health conditions, and pregnancy.
Be mindful that no set amount of water is right for everyone. Your water needs can vary depending on your health condition (e.g., pregnancy), activity level, and weather conditions. In general, you’d need to consume more water when you participate in any activity (e.g., exercising) or are subjected to any condition (e.g., hot or humid weather) that causes sweating. This ensures that you’re replenishing all the fluids lost.
Fever, vomiting, and diarrhea are also conditions that cause the body to lose extra water. So, these cases call for a higher level of water consumption, too. Other conditions that necessitate a higher intake of water include bladder infections and the development of urinary tract stones. People who are pregnant or are breastfeeding will need to drink extra water to stay hydrated.
On the other hand, there are also conditions that may impair the body’s ability to excrete excess fluids. Examples include heart failure and certain kidney, liver, or adrenal gland diseases. An individual with any of these conditions may have to limit their water consumption.
Is water the only option for staying hydrated?
One of the easiest ways to hydrate is to drink plenty of water. That said, fruits and vegetables that are high in water content can also help support the body’s fluid balance when consumed. These include:
- Cucumbers: Cucumbers are made up of around 95% water.
- Tomatoes: Like cucumbers, tomatoes are made up of around 95% water.
- Watermelon: Watermelon is made up of 92% water. It’s also nutrient-dense – known to contain beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamin C.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is made up of 80% water. It’s also rich in probiotics (i.e., “good” gut bacteria), which promote intestinal health.
- Strawberries: Strawberries are made up of more than 90% water. It’s also rich in vitamin C and is a fruit known to prevent cardiovascular diseases and fight infections.