The Serious Short and Long-Term Effects of Dehydration
Our bodies are nearly 75% water, and this vital substance is used every day to transport nutrients, hormones and oxygen around our bodies.
Water also plays an important part in helping our bodies to regulate temperature and dispose of waste.
Without drinking enough water, our bodies cannot function properly, and we become dehydrated.
The Perils of Dehydration
Dehydration is bad news for a number of reasons. It can cause headaches, dizziness, exhaustion and a number of other, much more serious health disorders including depression, aching joints and constipation.
When our bodies become dehydrated a rationing system takes effect and histamine, a neurotransmitter, begins to redistribute water throughout the body.
Once active, histamine directs water towards the brain, liver and lungs, and draws water away from our skin, muscles and bones.
When it becomes excessively active, histamine can begin to deprive our non-vital cells of the water they need, limiting access to oxygen and causing an imbalance in important minerals, such as sodium and potassium, that are required for proper muscle and nerve function.
Excessive histamine activity can also cause symptoms that are associated with disorders such as asthma, dyspepsia, colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Dehydration and Asthma
When our bodies become dehydrated, histamine attempts to limit the amount of fluid lost during respiration by forcing the bronchial muscles to contract; limiting the size of our airways to prevent water vapour escaping from the lungs.
Histamine also stimulates the production of mucus, which partially plugs the bronchioles as a protective mechanism to keep them from drying up from exposure to the outside air.
Although they are designed to preserve precious moisture, these dehydration-induced processes can often leave us feeling very light-headed and short of breath, and over long periods of time they can even be mistaken for the symptoms of asthma.
Dehydration can further exacerbate the symptoms of chemically-induced or allergic asthma by inhibiting our bodies' ability to produce antibodies, leaving us incapable of neutralising the dust-mites, pollens and harmful microbes normally associated with allergy-induced asthma attacks.
Dehydration and Constipation
Another common effect of dehydration is constipation. When water is in short supply, the colon will attempt to restrict unnecessary water loss through our stools by squeezing out and re-absorbing as much moisture as possible.
During bouts of chronic dehydration this process of re-absorption kicks into overdrive, and creates very hard, compacted stools that are difficult to pass.
This process also places increased strain on the liver and kidneys by sending waste-water destined for expulsion back into the body, which these overburdened organs have to process.
Dehydration and Depression
Dehydration is also thought to inhibit the body's ability to produce serotonin, and could play a role in causing depression.
Serotonin is a powerful neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness and wellbeing, as well as regulating our digestive processes.
It is biochemically derived from tryptophan, an amino acid which is transported to the brain as a compound dissolved in water. If our bodies are dehydrated, not enough tryptophan can be carried to the brain, which prevents our bodies from creating the serotonin needed to counteract feelings of depression and balance our moods.
Increased levels of histamine in the liver also encourage the body to break down and recycle tryptophan, which only serves to further exacerbate the problem, and can leave long-term sufferers of chronic dehydration feeling miserable and lethargic.
Dehydration and Joint Pain
Joints are made of cartilage, which is mainly water, and lacks blood vessels. As cartilage-coated surfaces rub against one another, friction damages and denatures the surface layer of exposed cells, causing them to wear down and peel away.
Normally, the body would replace these damaged cells immediately by using water to transport the necessary nutrients to the site of the damage.
But when the body is dehydrated, histamine draws this water away from the joints, which slows down the repair of abrasive damage and leaves us aching and sore.
Dehydration and Cell Death
As well as causing asthma-like symptoms, encouraging depression and increasing our susceptibility to joint pain, dehydration can also cause cell death. Our bodies need a constant flow of water to carry any waste created by the process of respiration away from our cells.
Dehydration causes histamine to redirect water away from anything except our vital organs, and when the amount of water flowing around our cells is reduced, waste begins to accumulate.
If this buildup of waste materials and other contaminates goes unchecked for an extended period of time, it can precipitate the breakdown of cellular membranes and eventually damage our cells beyond repair.
Combating the Effects of Dehydration
Fortunately, most of the damage done by dehydration can be reversed with relative ease, once we know how.
The best way to combat dehydration and restore your good health is by slowly increasing the amount of good, healthy water that you drink. Gulping down a glass of common tap water may well relieve you of your aches and pains in the short term, but a longer-term solution requires slightly more commitment.
If you want to properly hydrate your cells, and are looking to better oxygenate your body while reducing your susceptibility to aches, pains and other, more serious degenerative conditions, you would be well advised to start drinking properly structured, alkaline water.
In doing so, you should see your body respond quickly, and may well notice that you benefit from increased energy levels, better concentration and an improved sense of wellbeing in a matter of days.
How Can Alkaline Water Help?
Alkaline water is water with a high pH value and a rich mineral content. It can help you to obtain optimum pH balance and neutralise the harmful, acidic compounds that build up as a result of dehydration, poor diet, pollution and stress.