There is always this talk about water, staying hydrated. What is the big deal? Why does water have some much effect on the body? Well, water makes up 60% of your body composition! Dang, that is a lot. So it only makes sense to have to continuously stay hydrated to keep things running smoothly. Water makes up part of your organs, tissues and even your cells. The amount of water intake varies on the individual. Many factors come into play with how much water you need: sweating, urinating, activity levels, current chronic illness. Let’s take a deeper look and understand why water is so important!
I am sure at some point in your life, even if you didn’t realize it you were dehydrated. What is dehydration? It is when you lose more fluid than you consume. Some examples of losing fluid can be from sweating, urination, illness such as diarrhea or regurgitation. Being dehydrated can have an affect on your organs and cardiovascular system. This is because there is a decrease in overall blood volume causing a decrease of blood to be circulating throughout the body. When there is low blood volume the heart has to work harder, so it beats at a faster rate and then causes your blood pressure to increase. Being dehydrated also causes an imbalance of electrolytes. This is because there is less blood volume, now sodium levels are more concentrated. The blood now becomes and causes thicker. Being hydrated allows for your heart to pump blood easier, because there is more blood volume and sodium levels aren’t as concentrated. The population that are more at risk for dehydration are athletes, the elderly, people with chronic illness, and children.
Some signs of mild dehydrations are: feeling thirsty, dry / sticky mouth, muscle cramps, lack of urination, dark yellow urine, dry skin, constipation, and headache. More severe signs of dehydration include: dizziness, lightheadedness, reduction of sweating, very small or absence of urinating, very dark (sometimes yellow / brownish) urine, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, accelerated breathing. For infants some signs are: unusual tiredness, no wet diapers, no tears, dry mouth.
Helps to Remove Waste and Prevent Kidney Damage
It is no secret that for the body to remove waste we urinate and defecate. Water helps the kidneys to remove waste from the blood. It also helps keep the blood vessel open. Like above there are many side effects dehydration can have on the body. With mild dehydration you will have dark yellow urine and severe dehydration will be very dark yellow urine. So what does this mean for the kidneys? When there is a lack of fluid in your body (dehydration) your kidneys have to filter out a more concentrated solution of fluid. This is why your urine changes color depending on your hydration statues. When urine is dark yellow or very dark yellow this means that your urine is concentrated with many different substances. By drinking the proper amount of water it dilutes the fluid that is going to go through the kidneys. By the kidneys filtering out a more diluted fluid, it causes less stress on the kidneys and helps them to function more efficiently. When the kidneys have to constantly filter very concentrated fluid, it can cause damage over time. For example, a person can develop kidney stones or a urinary tract infection. Both of these can eventually lead to kidney damage if not treated quickly. Kidney stones are less likely to reoccur by keeping hydrated on a consistent basis. So drink up!
Affects Cardiovascular System and Regulates Body Temperature
How can being hydrated affect your heart / cardiovascular system? The answer is, your blood. Being dehydrated causes your blood to become thicker. When the blood is more thick, it is harder for the blood to travel around the body. The heart then needs to work harder (beat faster) to pump the blood to vital organs. The increased heart rate is also a way for your body to try to help regulate blood pressure. Depending on the severity of the dehydration the blood pressure can increase and decrease.
Can being dehydrated prevent you from cooling your body down? As you become more and more dehydrated the body’s ability to sweat decreases. The reason for sweating is to help cool down the body, a.k.a decrease body temperature. Body temperatures often increase when working out, however keep in mind everybody is different and some people sweat more than others. The overall idea is that when you are dehydrated and you don’t sweat as much it’s harder for your body to cool down (decrease temperature).
Aids In Digestion
I am sure you heard before that water helps with digestion. If you haven’t, no big deal because you are about to understand why the two go hand in hand. When we eat our body takes multiple steps to break down the food into its simplest form. Water is part of that process and helps break down the food we eat. Drinking water also aids in keeping the food moving along the intestines and helps keep them flexible. The small and large intestine (colon) absorbs water, which then goes into your bloodstream to use to break down nutrients. Because the large intestine absorbs water your stool consistency changes to a solid. If experiencing diarrhea when sick keep in mind that it is important to keep drinking fluids because diarrhea can cause dehydration.
Helps with Brain Health
A lot of people want to keep their brain nice and healthy. Water helps to nourish your brain and to help provide it with the nutrients it needs. Being dehydrated can even have an affect on your mood! Dehydration can affect the brain such as having: memory loss, lack of focus, headaches, delayed processing of information, and irritability. Research shows that even being dehydrated as little as 1% can have a negative effect on the brain (ex: mood, attention, motor coordinate). Other studies showed that hydration status can have an effect on cognitive tests. Those who were hydrated had a 14% increase in their cognitive performance than those who were dehydrated.
Keeps hunger levels in check
Have you ever started to eat something and you realized you weren’t that hungry? That is most likely because your body was telling you you were thirsty. Often enough people mistake feeling hungry for them actually needing to drink water. One way you can keep your hunger levels in check to make sure you are staying hydrated is drink a glass of water before reaching for a snack. This will help you realize if your body needs water or if it needs some food.
Water Protects Your Tissues, Spinal Cord, and Lubricates Joints PLUS Moisten tissues in the eyes, nose and mouth
Aside from drinking water to help with blood pressure, protecting organs it also helps with tissues, spinal cord and joints. Water helps to keep the tissue in your body moist. In addition to keeping the tissues hydrated, water is important for parts of your body with salivary glands. When you feel that your eyes, mouth and nose are dry try drinking a glass of water. Of course keep in mind there can be other medication conditions that can cause eyes, mouth, and nose to be dry. In severe cases when someone is so dehydrated they can no longer produce tears! Water also helps to protect the spinal cord and helps to lubricate and cushion joints and to help function properly.