Your body is about 60% water. Lose even 1.5% 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 surprising causes of dehydration and how to prevent them.
Diabetes: People with diabetes—especially people who don't yet realize they have it—are at increased risk for dehydration. When levels of sugar in the blood are too high, the body tries to get rid off the excess glucose through increased urine output. All of those extra trips to the bathroom can be dehydrating.
If you're diabetic and suffer from frequent thirst or urination, talk to your doctor about how you can work together to improve your blood sugar control. And if you're experiencing excessive thirst along with these other type 2 diabetes symptoms, it's time to pay a visit to your doctor.
Prescription meds: Check your prescription's list of side effects. Many medications act as diuretics, upping your urine output and your risk for dehydration. Blood pressure medications are a common example. Plus, any drug that lists diarrhea or vomiting as a potential side effect could end up causing dehydration if you experience those side effects. If your prescription hits any of the above, increase your fluid intake.
Low-carb diets: 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. Plus, since whole carbs such as oatmeal, whole grain pasta, and brown rice all soak up water during the cooking process, eating them can actually increase your hydration levels. Cut them from your diet and you could be unwittingly reducing your fluid intake, too.
Stress: 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. Problem is that 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. While increasing fluid intake can help in the short term, mediating your stressors is the only real long-term solution.
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, if you don't eat your five-a-day, and don't compensate by drinking extra water, you could easily wind up dehydrated.