Thursday, June 25, 2015

How Dehydration Affects Your Body

Dehydration occurs when the body has too little fluid, specifically water, for proper metabolic functions. Because water has a low viscosity, i.e. a very low resistance to flow, it is the primary medium for various enzymatic and chemical reactions in the body. It moves nutrients, hormones, antibodies and oxygen through the blood stream and lymphatic system. Approximately 60% of the average adult human body weight is attributed to water. The quantity of water is highest in organs such as lungs and brain and in fluids such as blood, lymph, saliva and secretions by the organs of the digestive system.

Dehydration occurs when more fluid is excreted from the body than is taken in. The body most commonly loses water during expiration (exhaling), when sweating, during urination, and during bowel movements. Dehydration becomes more prevalent during hot months when people spend more time participating in outdoor activities including yard work and other strenuous activities in the sun and during times of high humidity. Water loss is also a factor whenever someone has diarrhea or is vomiting, and when nausea prevents fluid intake. Diabetics with elevated blood sugar levels often experience frequent urination as their bodies try to rid the body of excessive sugar levels; if they don’t replenish fluids they can become dehydrated. Individuals with significant burns are also at high risk for becoming dehydrated because the skin is unable to stop fluid from seeping out. 

To ensure that your body is sufficiently hydrated so that metabolic functions can occur easily, watch for these symptoms:


By the time you experience the physical sensation of being thirsty, your body is already somewhat dehydrated. Ensure good hydration by drinking the right fluids throughout the day and having a diet that includes water-rich foods, such as celery, watermelon, tomatoes, oranges, and melons. If you experience frequent excessive thirst, it could be a symptom of other metabolic issues. You should seek treatment from the physician of your choice.

Discolored or Heavy-Smelling Urine 
Your urine should be mostly clear with a slight yellow color, high in volume and without excessive odor. When you are slightly dehydrated your urine will appear more yellow in color. When you are about 5% dehydrated, which is considered severe dehydration, your urine will appear orange and may have a strong ammonia smell. Certain medications and supplements may affect urine color and smell. If you are well hydrated and have cloudy looking or smelly urine, check with your physician to verify that you don’t have a urinary tract infection. 

Two of the most common causes of constipation are inadequate intake of water and inadequate consumption of fiber. Many integrative and holistic practitioners agree that a healthy body has an equal number of bowel movements as meals consumed in a day, i.e. food in = waste out. Clear signs that you are not drinking enough water are: straining during a bowel movement more than 25% of the time, hard stools more than 25% of the time, incomplete evacuation more than 25% of the time, and two or fewer bowel movements in a week.

Dizzy or Foggy Headed 
When your body is low on water it impedes blood circulation to the brain. The result can be dizziness. Likewise, just mild dehydration can make it difficult to focus mentally — creating an experience of being foggy headed. If you are having trouble concentrating on a mentally strenuous activity, having a glass of water may help sharpen your mental activity!

Small blood vessels in the brain respond quickly to hydration levels. Dehydration can trigger dull headaches to full-blown migraines. Consuming excessive amounts of beverages that are diuretics, meaning they promote the production of urine, can lead to dehydration; hangovers are the result of the diuretic effects of alcohol. When enjoying alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation and be sure to also stay hydrated with water while imbibing. If you feel like a headache coming on, try warding it off with a glass of water.

Feeling Tired 
Dehydration causes blood pressure to drop, the heart rate to increase and slows blood flow to the brain. These factors combined may create an experience of lethargy. Instead of reaching right away for coffee or another caffeinated beverage for a jump start, try having a glass of water first. If indeed you are dehydrated, the caffeine will mask your lack of energy and dehydrate you even more.

Cranky Mood 
Another possible side effect of dehydration is caused by the neurological reaction of too little fluid in the brain. Dehydration can cause a drop in serotonin levels which can have tremendous affect on mood. If you notice yourself feeling cranky after a long bout of exercise or a stressful day at the office, refresh your body and your mood with fruit infused water.

Bad Breath 
Saliva has antibacterial properties. When you are dehydrated, you produce less saliva which means bacteria can flourish in your mouth. The result of the overgrowth of bacteria is bad breath. Keeping hydrated, along with proactive dental and gum care and the use of a tongue scraper, can help keep your breath from becoming offensive.

Dry Skin 
Your skin is the largest organ of your body. It protects you from the elements and microbes, helps to regulate body temperature, and enables the sensations associated with touch. Keeping your skin healthy and well moisturized helps you maintain better general health, and delays the appearance of aging. While it is best to hydrate from the inside out, you can keep your skin moisturized by keeping showers to about 5 minutes using lukewarm water and then applying a moisturizer to still damp skin within three minutes of drying off. When adequately hydrated, your skin will show signs of elasticity – it quickly rebounds when pinched into a fold.

Muscle Cramps 
As mentioned earlier, dehydration can result in decreased blood flow. In addition to prompting headaches and lethargy, it can also cause muscle cramps. When there is decreased blood flow, the body maintains activity of vital organs by supplying them with blood and the nutrients carried in the blood. Blood flow is shifted away from any non-vital organs and away from muscles; a common result of this lack of nutrients and blood is cramping. The risk of cramping is increased by the loss of potassium and sodium that naturally occurs during sweating. You can avoid cramps by staying well hydrated during strenuous activity and when in a hot environment and by making sure to replenish vital nutrients for good muscle function.

Food Cravings, Especially Sweets 
Sometimes dehydration presents as hunger, especially for sugar and carbohydrates. When exercising, your body uses up its stores of glycogen to create energy. After exercising, you may experience intense food cravings because your body wants to create more glycogen. Be sure you replenish the fluids in your body that you have sweated out in addition to making a healthy choice to satisfy a food craving. Eating a piece of fruit that has high water content can help address both issues at once.

Decreased Athletic Performance 
Being dehydrated can significantly affect your performance while working out or participating in a sport. For peak performance, make sure you are well hydrated. Even a slightly dehydrated body can experience a 10% reduction in performance ability and the more dehydrated you get, the worse your performance will become. A combination of foggy headedness and less than optimal performance – both caused by dehydration – can lead to injury.

Fever and Chills 
Because dehydration can result in reduced blood flow, the body may start to limit blood flow to the skin. With reduced blood flow to the skin, the body is less able to regulate temperature and thus, you can experience chills or even fever when you are excessively dehydrated.

Severe Dehydration 
If you fail to treat dehydration you can quickly progress into severe dehydration and require medical attention. Severe dehydration is noted by:
  • extreme thirst
  • extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children
  • irritability and confusion in adults
  • very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • little or no urination
  • sunken eyes
  • shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity
  • low blood pressure
  • no tears when crying
  • fever
In the most serious cases people may exhibit confusion, delirium or unconsciousness. Severe dehydration can also initiate what is first identified as a cardiac event marked by rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing. Older adults and young children are especially at risk for severe dehydration and should be monitored carefully; don’t hesitate in seeking medical attention if you believe someone is severely dehydrated. If left untreated, it can be fatal.

Preventing and Recovering from Dehydration

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may alleviate some of the discomfort with proper hydration. To maintain hydration levels you should drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example if you weigh 126 pounds, you should drink 63 ounces of water daily (126 ÷ 2 = 63). If you, like many people, use caffeinated beverages to wake up or stay alert, you will need additional water to compensate for the diuretic properties of the caffeine. For every 100 milligrams of caffeine you consume, you should consume an additional 8 ounces of water; this equates to one cup of water for every one cup of coffee or two cups of black tea.

If you are recovering from an illness that included vomiting or diarrhea, make this simple yet effective rehydration drink: Mix together ¼ teaspoon Baking Soda , ¼ cup Orange Juice, and ¾ cup Filtered Water.

If you are drinking plenty of water and still feel dehydrated, the issue may be that your body lacks the proper nutrients that aid water molecules in passing through cellular membranes. If this is the case, then your body is having difficulty in absorbing all of the vitamins and other nutrients that are necessary for proper metabolic function. To make sure your body has the necessary support to support the absorption try one of the following methods:

Each day drink three to four 8 ounce glasses water that have ¼ teaspoon of Willard Water® added. Willard Water® contains fossilized organics consisting of activated carbon, amino acids, trace minerals and refined lignite. In addition to helping with the body’s ability to absorb, this product improves the body’s ability to eliminate toxins.

Add Trace Minerals to your daily supplement regime by adding up to ½ teaspoon of a liquid trace minerals supplement to a gallon of water. Carefully follow the directions on how to work your way up to the recommended dosage; introducing too high a dosage at first can cause nausea.

Add Cellfood®, a powerful antioxidant and blood oxidizer, is a silica product that also contains the trace minerals needed for nutrient absorption in your body.

If you are feeling lightheaded, add electrolytes to your water. Several quality electrolyte products are available at quality supplement stores. As an alternative, you can try 1/8 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt in a glass of water. If it tastes refreshing and not salty, continue to add salt to your glass until it tastes slightly salty. Celtic Sea Salt has an excellent balance of electrolytes and minerals for rehydration.

To experience greater health it’s imperative to support all metabolic functions. The basis for this is to stay well hydrated. Choose to drink more water or decaffeinated herbal teas. Reduce your caffeine intake. Stop drinking regular and diet sodas, which actually strip minerals from your body. And if you crave flavor, add slices of organic lemon, orange, cucumber, or your favorite fruit or vegetable to a gallon of water to satisfy your taste buds. Finally, always use filtered water! If possible add a whole-house water filter to your home. If you don’t filter your water, you become the filter. If you are the filter for your water, it becomes even more important to regularly detoxify the body.

Enjoy your summer! Watch for signs of dehydration in yourself, your family, friends, and in your pets. Make sure everyone stays well hydrated in the hot months ahead; it’s essential if you want great health!

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