As a principle, the human body can continue without food for up to maximum ‘seven days’, but without water, it cannot last more than 72 hours. As it flows through the human body, it renders health and rejuvenation to all parts of the body. One can only imagine how difficult it would be to survive without it. Yet, most of us ignore its importance in their daily diet and intake, resulting into an alarming heath issue –dehydration.
Clinical Definition of Dehydration
Dehydration refers to a deficit of total body water, with an accompanying disruption of metabolic processes.
Water plays an essential role in controlling the metabolic processes of human body and it also acts as a lubricating agent between the joints, tendons and ligaments. With increasing age, especially beyond 30 years, the pH balance of the body is essential to maintain the acid levels in the body. Water acts as a medium to maintain control such imbalances. Dehydration essentially is an indicative of water deficit that may disrupt these routine bodily functions.
Natural Benefits of Water
A hydrated body keeps you energetic, active and cheerful. It regulates the proper flow of hormones in your body, and elevates your mood. Some of the many benefits of drinking water regularly are:
- Water balances the body fluids.
- Regulates and maintains body temperature.
- Eliminates waste products and toxins.
- Promotes digestion.
- Controls energy release due to calorie intake.
- Keeps your skin hydrated and youthful.
- Offers protection for your tissues, spinal cord and joints.
- Lubricates your joints and eyes.
Common causes of dehydration
Our body loses water due to a lot of reasons. Some of the common reasons could be diarrhoea, vomiting, frequent urination, hard physical activity, excessive sweating and diabetes.
You might consider these reasons trivial, but these can have devastating effects if left unattended for a prolonged period.
Recognizing Signs of Dehydration
Dehydration seriously impedes your body function as it causes electrolyte imbalance. Yet, numerous people do not know the most important symptoms of dehydration and often avoid or do not notice it. These signs may help you act on time and prevent further complications.
1.Constipation and digestive issue
The water is responsible for the free movement of solid food through the complicated twists and turns of the intestinal tract. Imagine the layers of intestines fitted inside a small belly trying to push the food from the throat deep down into the abdominal region. Lower levels of water consumption lead to incomplete digestion and assimilation of food in the bowels causing constipation. The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a story in 2003 which proved that proper hydration is essential in the prevention of constipation and the key to proper body function.
Tip: A glass of water consumed everyday early morning on an empty stomach for one month will completely resolve your digestive problems and ease out your bowel movements. Replace that fag or morning tea with a glass of water and witness the changes yourself.
2.Bad breath and dry mouth
The deficiency of water in body stimulates the saliva production in the mouth, which keeps the mouth wet and has anti-bacterial properties.
The dental cavities are major areas of bacteria proliferation and due to decreased levels of water in the body, one may experience bad breath. If you have started to experience any such symptoms, it is time you start checking your water intake levels. Furthermore, you can also feel a dry mouth, as the saliva that has been sent to your mouth to compensate for lesser water levels is already consumed and no more natural lubrication is available for the mucous membranes in the throat.
3.Accelerated heart beat
One of the serious effects of dehydration is an accelerated heart beat. According to a research conducted by the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research in 2014, the researchers indicated that, there is an average change of the heartbeat of three beats per minute for every 1% change in body weight due to dehydration. This means that from the normal rate of 68 -70 beats per minute, the heartbeats can shoot up to as high as 75-80 beats per minute.
4.Pain in the joints and muscles
Do you feel that cracking your knuckles can still make you look like a cool guy? Think again. Water acts as a lubricant between the joints, tendons and ligaments, allowing free movement of the joints. 80% of the joints and cartilages are composed of water. The fact that you hear the knuckles cracking is due to the oxidation of bones and formation of air cavities at the joints which make a cracking sound when twisting knuckles. It is in fact an indicative of lower water levels and loss of lubrication in the joints.
5.Headaches and dizziness
If you have ever experienced diarrhoea, one of the immediate after-effects of it is a headache. This is due to rapid fluid and electrolyte loss which results in adequate supply of oxygen and blood to the brain. A study included in the Handbook of Clinical Neurology in 2010 also proved that dehydration may lead to severe headaches and migraines. In the case of a headache due to dehydration, a glass of water can be more effective than pills
6.Abrupt food cravings
We often mistake our thirst with hunger. It is often a tendency that is misunderstood by most people, and we tend to intake more food, to compensate that tendency. Actually, it is your body craving for water intake.
The next time you feel like a twitch or a growl in your stomach, consider replacing that snack or munch with water. A full glass of water will instantly ease out your metabolism and bring back your energy levels. Also, the intake of water will fill in for the loss of electrolytes which have been lost due to routine activities.
Your abrupt food cravings can also be due to low glycogen levels. Consuming water rich fruits such as papaya, water-melon, oranges, etc can replenish both your water and electrolyte levels.
7.Brain fog or poor concentration
A dehydrated body can also impede the function of the brain, impacting your physical activity, memory and cognitive skills and decision making ability. It also leads to a negative impact on your mood often leading to anxiety and irritation.
A study published in 2013 in Clinical Autonomic Research showed that the lack of water in the body is one of the major reasons for brain fog along with a lack of sleep, fatigue, and prolonged standing.
8.Fatigue and lethargy
A hydrated body will keep you alert, vigilant and energetic all day, and can improve upon your physical movements. A hydrated body also helps to keep away from muscle cramps, twitches, strains and bodily lethargy and fatigue. The lack of water in the brain leads to a low blood pressure and insufficient supply of oxygen through your body.
9. Decreased need for urination and changed urine colour
A hydrated body increases the tendency to urinate. Some people consider it an embarrassment, but actually, it is a good sign. This means your body metabolism is trying to get rid of the toxins. Sitting in an air-conditioned room for prolonged hours blocks the pores of your skin and leads to lesser perspiration – another major way the body loses its toxins. Increased urination tendency is an indicative that your body is acting to compensate for its skin functions through urination and getting rid of toxins. Consider it a boon, rather than embarrassment, as reduced urination levels can lead to accumulation of toxins in the body.
10. Dry skin and lips
Water also makes the skin supple and elastic. A dehydrated body can lead to a dry and weak skin surface, often prone to easy damages and cracks. The body also loses most of its toxins from the skin through the sweat pores. Lack of water in the body means lesser sweat and increased built up of oil, dust, and excess dirt on your skin. A dehydrated skin is also a major cause of psoriasis, acne and eczema, dry and chapped lips.
Your overall health, the climate and your physical activity are factors which determine the amount of water you need. Good food, exercise and adequate sleep are the three pillars of a fabulous health and it is closely complemented by the daily water intake in your body.
Loss of water in your body can disrupt the metabolic cycle and hormonal balance in your body, thereby disturbing the longevity of your health. If you seem to notice any of the symptoms such as an increased or decreased heart rate, dry throat, nausea, less urination, headaches or sore throat, it is time that you need to consult your doctor and seek an advice.