Dehydration – causes and adverse effects
Water holds the secrets of nature and the universe. Water covers 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, and the same percentage of 70 percent exists in the human body. Water accompanies us in every moment of our lives, at home, at work, during walks, or while traveling. At the same time, water has become so accessible to us that we often tend to neglect its value. This negligence is often caused by a lack of information about the effects that can occur with its absence or, more importantly, with the dehydration of our bodies.
Dehydration vs. the value of water
History tells us that humanity did not always consume water, and furthermore, water was not always readily available as a drinking product for everyone. In the Middle Ages, for example, people were so afraid of being contaminated with various intestinal infections that they drank more beer or wine, and clean water was considered a luxury accessible only to the wealthy.
However, nowadays, most of the time, we consume water and quench our thirst without reflecting too much on the extent to which it affects the quality of our physical and mental health. Moreover, despite its importance, we often do not consume water in the necessary quantity, which can cause a series of health problems over time.
Since health is the greatest value for any human being, we invite you to discover the effects of dehydration on the human body. We will also discuss below the consequences it could have on health.
For most people, the survival limit without food is up to 40 days, without water – three days, and without air – just a few minutes. Thus, the importance of water for the body is very clear. Both respiration and digestion cannot take place without the involvement of water. This means that we cannot eat, digest, assimilate food, or even breathe without the intake of water. Why? Because water determines our life entirely; water is necessary for any chemical reaction in our body. All biological fluids in the body, such as saliva, gastric juice, pancreatic juice, and all biochemical processes in the body, are based on water.
The intake of water in our body is directly influenced by the climatic conditions in which we find ourselves. Sweating intensifies during hot weather, for example. It may seem strange, but in winter, during cold weather, it is important to drink more water than usual, especially when wearing warmer clothes.
If we consider the physical and biological condition of the human body, we find that two-thirds of our body is composed of water. The loss of just a few percentages from the total 70% of water in the body leads to dehydration – a water deficit. As a consequence, a series of inflammatory processes are triggered, the risk of developing chronic diseases increases, and various symptoms arise that influence and affect the quality of life.
For example, the first symptoms of aging are accompanied by a gradual dehydration of our tissues. You may have noticed that you go to the bathroom even when you haven’t drunk water. This is a normal physiological process of the body, which continues its processes despite whether it receives water constantly or not.
Thus, these constant and daily water losses are necessary for the body to ensure its vital functions. Therefore, if you opt for an alkaline environment internally and do not want to “rust” literally, you need to reconsider your attitude toward water and compensate for your losses.
Adverse effects of dehydration
Unpleasant conditions such as constant fatigue, dizziness, stress, lack of energy, and lack of concentration are just a few of the first symptoms of dehydration. Oxygenation of cells, transport of nutrients, and elimination of toxins from the body are not possible without water. Blood is composed of 94% water, nourishing every cell in our body and supplying it with oxygen. Both muscles and the brain experience faulty blood circulation when you are dehydrated.
Dehydration occurs during physical or psychological stress or simply when you forget to drink water or replace water with juices, tea, coffee, or other beverages. As a consequence, the blood becomes very viscous, blood pressure drops, blood flow to the brain slows down, and as a result, there is a deficit of oxygen and nutrients.
It is easy to understand this if we imagine that the vessels through which blood flows to the brain are as thin as a hair strand! Since our body possesses an amazing self-regulating mechanism, in such cases, the brain sends signals to the adrenal glands about the lack of oxygen, and the body’s tension begins to increase to “pump” the blood to the brain.
Chronic hypertension problems often occur due to oxygen deficiency in the brain. So, we do not get sick because we are getting older, but we age and get sick because we do not consume water! When we drink enough water, our blood becomes sufficiently fluid, and this increases its active transport to the brain and other organs. Thus, the red blood cells, called erythrocytes, no longer form conglomerates and easily transport the blood to all its surfaces, especially to the cells of the brain.
Let’s step back from the world of science for a moment and ask housewives, what do you do when your soup turns out too thick? Do you add chemicals or water? The answer is more than obvious – water. We should understand the same thing about the human body.
Other adverse effects of dehydration:
Headaches and bad mood: Dehydration reduces energy levels and limits performance. The lack of water affects the serotonin levels in the body, favoring depressive states and headaches. In addition, the small blood vessels in the brain respond quickly to dehydration, leading to severe pain and migraines. The solution is to drink one or two glasses of water when such symptoms occur. You will notice how the headache gradually disappears. When you feel tired, drink more water, and your body will rejuvenate.
Unpleasant breath: It is easy to forget to drink water during a busy day, but the consequences can be felt at the end of the day when you notice that your breath smells bad. Because saliva has important antibacterial properties, when you are dehydrated, the amount of saliva decreases, allowing bacteria to enter the mouth.
Muscle cramps: Water lubricates the muscles, and dehydration leads to muscle cramps. This happens because liquids are drawn out of the muscles to protect internal organs. Moreover, changes in sodium and potassium levels due to sweating can also lead to muscle cramps.
Dry skin: When we are born, our skin is firm and elastic. As we age, wrinkles appear, and dehydrated skin becomes dry and dull. Although we have a multitude of products for hydrating the skin, it is much more necessary to prevent its dehydration by acting internally. To maintain healthy skin, which is the largest protective organ of our body, we need good hydration. We can use various cosmetic solutions, but we must not forget that the skin hydrates from within. Water and nutrients reach the skin through the blood vessels.
Constipation and intestinal diseases: The stomach lining consists of 98% water, and its insufficiency can cause indigestion, constipation, and heartburn over time. Dehydration also affects the colon’s ability to function properly. The body compensates for the lack of water by extracting liquids from the stool, making it harder and more difficult to evacuate. Therefore, the activity of the digestive system is determined by the amount of water we consume between meals, with a 30-minute interval before a meal and 1.5-2 hours after a meal.
Not in vain, even 100 years ago, doctors recommended drinking water in the morning. This way, you can accelerate your metabolism from the first minutes after waking up. This morning routine helps and enhances the elimination of all metabolic products accumulated overnight on the mucous membranes. The lack of water hinders these processes and increases the toxin levels in the body.
Joint pain: The composition of cartilage, which protects the joints, consists of 80% water. Therefore, joint health can be compromised when we do not consume enough water. The risk of suffering from arthritis and other inflammatory disorders increases by 60%. Dehydration can also affect intervertebral discs, which increases the formation of herniated discs.
Kidney disorders: The health of the kidneys is directly influenced by water consumption because they filter waste and produce urine for their elimination. People who neglect water consumption have a high level of toxins in their blood since they cannot be eliminated. As a result, these people suffer from problems such as water retention or bloating. Dehydration also increases the risk of developing a urinary tract infection.
Continuous hunger and excess weight: Dehydration can cause a constant feeling of hunger or can be misinterpreted by the body as a craving for sugary or processed fatty foods. The hypothalamus is the region of the brain that signals hunger or thirst states. The brain area from where these signals originate is the same, and it is crucial not to confuse hunger with thirst. When we feel hungry, even though we ate an hour ago, we need to be realistic and differentiate between these two types of sensations: emotional hunger and physical hunger.
For better digestion of food, it is recommended to consume a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal. However, consuming water during a meal can affect gastric acid and the breakdown of food.
How much water should you drink?
The universal formula of the World Health Organization for the daily water norm is as follows:
- For women: 30 ml x body weight in kg.
- For men: 40 ml x body weight in kg.
It is also essential to adjust this formula based on personal needs and lifestyle. For example, when engaging in physical exercise or if you are a coffee drinker, you need to drink more water daily. Physical exercise promotes sweating, and caffeine is a diuretic, resulting in faster dehydration.
In the case of coffee consumption, an additional 500 ml of water is recommended for each cup of coffee. When exercising, it is good to compensate for the losses with an additional 400-600 ml of water.
We already know that the most important thing we need daily is clean, healthy, and biological water. Therefore, in the next article, we will provide useful information to help you adopt a healthy and balanced habit for each day 🙂
Stay tuned for more health information!