Greetings dear reader. I hope this finds you healthy and content. Week before last I wrote about hydration. The focus of that post was on the importance of hydration. The focus of this post will be what happens to the body when it gets dehydrated and how to prevent that. Almost everyone knows hydration is a key component to overall health, but that does not mean we are staying hydrated. Our body is all we truly have in this physical world that belongs to us. It is the temple where our spirit resides. I believe we owe it a great deal of reverence and gratitude.
One of the ways we can demonstrate these to our body is by nurturing and taking good care of it. Today there are 2.2 billion people in the world without access to clean and safe drinking water. Globally this is a problem and locally as well. As the U.S. still faces the aftermath of Flint Michigan, we now have the aftermath of the highly unfortunate trainwreck in Palestine, Ohio. The ramifications are devastating to people , animals and the environment. To complicate the situation, the Ohio River flows through borders of six states.
As always, the media is sure to downplay this, and so it will be up to us to keep tabs on this situation long after the news wanes in headlines. The long and the short of it, is that you are fortunate to have this precious human body and fortunate to have access to clean, safe drinking water. The question is - “Do you stay Hydrated “ ? The other question is, how can you tell if you are hydrated or dehydrated and how does your body let you know.
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Dehydration and Aging
I make it a point to stay hydrated and I have inspired many to do the same. Nevertheless, my diligence with hydration seems to wax and wane. I am a caretaker for someone who has a lifetime of dehydration. It has been an eye opening discovery to learn that all that ails him now, can directly be traced to a lifetime of dehydration. This is living proof that our senior years are a time when our body gives us an overall report card in relation to what we have or have not been doing habitually over the course of our lifetime. It took almost a year and a lot of educating, a trip to the ER and some conversations with doctors, but the man I care take for now drinks six glasses of water daily. This is monumental for someone who virtually never drank water and even seemed to have a disdain for it.
For me he is living proof that long-term dehydration can lead to chronic intestinal disease, chronic pain and body aches ( to include arthritis ), loss of teeth ( a combination of poor hygiene and dehydration). When I arrived the poor guy was eating Excedrin like candy to get rid of his headaches, when all his body wanted was water. He was also taking stool softeners daily, because he was dehydrated and needed more fiber. Unfortunately because of his constipation, he also had chronic hemorrhoids. He was often experiencing cramping ( which in his case was a lack of motility to to dehydration).
In an excerpt from a book entitled Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, Dr. Batmanghelidj writes, “When we drink water, depending on the volume of water that enters the stomach, a hormone/neurotransmitter called “motilin” is secreted. The more water we drink, the more motilin is produced by the intestinal tract and can be measured in blood circulation. The effect of motilin on the intestinal tract, as its name implies, is to produce rhythmic contractions of the intestines – peristalsis – from its upper parts to its lower end. Part of this action would involve the timely opening and closing of the valves that are in the way of flow of the intestinal content.
Thus, when there is enough water in the body for all the digestive processes that depend on the availability of water, the pancreas will produce its watery bicarbonate solution to prepare the upper part of the intestinal tract to receive the acidic content of the stomach. Under such ideal circumstances, the pyloric valve is also allowed to open for the evacuation of the content of the stomach. Motilin has a major “transmission” role in coordinating this action. Motilin is a satiety hormone secreted when water extends the stomach wall.” (1)
Signs You May Be Dehydrated
You may be surprised at the number of ailments that can be directly attributed to dehydration, to include: depression, anxiety, poor cognitive function, an increased heart rate, low blood pressure, depression and even feelings of inadequacy.
Symptoms of dehydration can include: hunger, a craving for sweets, fatigue, nausea and headache (hangovers are dehydration) and even confusion. In his book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, Dr. Batmanghelidj makes a connection between dehydration and: pain, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and more.
I found this to be particularly interesting. “When you’re dehydrated, it can be difficult for organs such as the liver, which uses water, to release glycogen [stored glucose] and other components of your energy stores, so you can actually get cravings for food,” (2)
“While you can crave anything from chocolate to a salty snack, cravings for sweets are more common because your body may be experiencing difficulty breaking down glycogen to release glucose into the bloodstream to use as fuel, he says. “ (2)
How Dehydration Affects Brain Function
Dehydration causes your brain to shut down and not run at full speed. Some of the mental symptoms of dehydration include brain fog, afternoon fatigue, focus issues, depression, anger, emotional instability, exhaustion, headaches, sleep issues, stress, and a lack of mental clarity and acuity.
Studies have shown that if you are only 1 percent dehydrated, you will likely have a 5 percent decrease in cognitive function.
If your brain drops 2 percent in body water, you may suffer from fuzzy short-term memory, experience problems with focusing, and have trouble with math computations.
Further studies have shown that prolonged dehydration causes brain cells to shrink in size and mass. This is most common in the elderly, many of whom tend to be chronically dehydrated for years.
Dehydration is also a known factor in dementia and proper hydration may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Water is also essential for delivering nutrients to the brain and for removing toxins. When the brain is fully hydrated, the exchange of nutrients and toxins will be more efficient—thus ensuring better concentration and mental alertness. (3
I highly recommend the rest of this article , which is only a page long and full of important information including how to improve brain function. I also found the following to be vitally important.
“Dr. Allen has found that people with brain challenges such as Autism, Aspergers, ADD, head injuries, anxiety attacks and depression often drink almost no water each day! The lack of water only enhances brain dysfunction. “ (3)
In summation, I hope this post has served to demonstrate the catastrophic effects of dehydration, especially long-term dehydration. While it is important to keep yourself hydrated, it may be even more important for children, the elderly, and those with brain trauma or cognitive challenges.
If you wish to learn more about hydration , you can refer to the blog I wrote week before last. You can find it here
1.Excerpts from the book, The Body’s Many Cries for Water ,Read here.
2. 6 Unusual Signs of Dehydration
Awesome article, I love the references from Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by Dr. Batmanghelidj. It is such an important book. I also love the section where you connected water and brain function. I shared this on GAB!