Hunger Vs Thirst – the Importance of Hydration

Being well hydrated has several health benefits but can also SAVE you HUNDREDS of 14316648_sCALORIES. Several patients I see on a weekly basis are MISTAKING HUNGER for THIRST. Both signals are controlled in the same part of your brain, so what can we do to AVOID the CONFUSION?

 As I mentioned, its the same area of the BRAIN that controls hunger, thirst and many other bodily functions and behaviors – it is called the hypothalamus. When your stomach is empty, specific hormones are released to signal hunger. The problem being – the same happens for thirst. The hypothalamus can’t DIFFERENTIATE the signals therefore communicates with the nervous system to tell your stomach that it’s time to eat. If you feel like you’ve eaten everything in sight, yet still didn’t feel SATISFIED afterwards, you would have experienced receiving these mixed brain signals. And it’s more common than you may think.

 The other CONFUSING part of this is that the stomach also sends off mixed messages. It might grumble, gurgle, growl, twist and turn or feel hollow – this means your hungry right – NOT always the case. Your stomach can also send these signals when you’re THIRSTY. If you’re eating every time you are thirsty, because you have mistaken it for hunger, then you’re going to be eating extra unneeded calories and may struggle to lose weight. If you find yourself standing with the FRIDGE door open wide, wondering what you’re going to eat to get rid of this hunger – you may be able to satisfy yourself with calorie free fluids.

Do you have frequent HEADACHES and feel fatigued? These are warning signs that you may be DEHYDRATED. Most people I see struggle to achieve sufficient fluid intake each day. As most people are on the go, they tend to IGNORE or FORGET thirst. Over time the body gets accustomed to the feeling of always being a little dehydrated. Other signs of thirst may include:

  • Constipation – very common

  • Dry skin

  • A sluggish feeling

  • Dry-eyes

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

Generally, the THIRST mechanism kicks in when you’re around 1-2% percent dehydrated. By then, your body is desperately trying anything to get you to drink – we need to act BEFORE it’s reached this point

HOW CAN WE TELL THE DIFFERENCE? WHAT CAN WE DO?

To understand which signal your brain is sending, you must learn to understand your body better. Here are a few tips:

  1. KEEP HYDRATED – make sure you are drinking at least 2L of fluids a day to PREVENT dehydration. It may sound like a lot but the majority of your body is made up of water so it needs this amount to function at its best.

  2. Keep TRACK to the last time you ATE. It might be that your stomach only needs some water for satiety.

  3. Before you grab a snack – have a DRINK FIRST. Have a pint of water and wait 15 minutes – if you’re satisfied then great but, if your stomach is still churning then you are probably hungry. It can take around 15 minutes for your hypothalamus to send a signal letting your nervous system know that you were merely thirsty and that the thirst has been satisfied.

  4. If it’s been a while since you’ve had anything to drink, do your body a favour and GRAB a glass. Not a lot of people realize that you don’t necessarily have to wait until you’re thirsty to grab a drink.

  5. Remember, not all beverages are created equal. Coffee, tea and fizzy drinks can actually dehydrate you due to the CAFFEINE. If all you drinking are caffeine containing fluids you need to add in some water

  6. CRAVINGS – many people tell me that they crave sweet or salty foods – this can be due to dehydration. Your body has got fed up of you ignoring thirst signals so will send you other signals to try to get fluids into your body through specific foods. If you think about your brain’s logic – fruit contains fluid therefore a sweet cravings could lead you to eat fruit but, unfortunately people will often head for the chocolate instead!

  7. EXERCISE – bear in mind that your requirements will increase due to losses in sweat, so, aim for more than your average requirement of 2L a day if you exercise

How do I do it? Using my bobble! Since I discovered bobbles a year ago I’ve noticed such a difference in my fluid intake. A bobble is a reusable BPA-free water bottle that has a built in filter, so you simply fill it and you have filtered water wherever you go! I hate waste so would rarely buy bottled water but a bobble is re-usable, you just buy a new filter when needed. the best thing is, you can personalise it by choosing what colour filter you have! I’m currently using the magenta filter!