It is universally known that staying properly hydrated only brings benefits to our lives. We have our teachers, parents, relatives, nurses, doctors, friends, and even random strangers to thank for that.
This little health fact will surely be embedded in the collective human knowledge in much the same way as other catchy phrases like "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," or "a penny saved is a penny earned."
Today, with popular culture focusing an ever-brighter spotlight on the health and wellness world, even more attention is paid to hydration. Celebrity trainers constantly espouse the benefits of staying hydrated, especially during exercise. Carrying water bottles around is a huge trend. And even the sales of sports drinks are on the rise.
Being well hydrated gives us more energy throughout the day, and also helps us to maintain smooth, clear skin. Those wishing to lose weight also know that staying hydrated is essential.
The list of benefits of staying hydrated, then, is long and exhaustive – but how about the bad side of not drinking enough water? Do people really know the havoc that dehydration wreaks on our body? Is it something worth our attention? Let's find out.
1. Decrease Mental Performance
Many studies show the ill effects of dehydration on our mental function. Not only does it affect our mood and make us prone to stress, but being dehydrated greatly decreases cognitive function as well.
Many have likened its effects to that of alcohol. You wouldn’t want to drive under the influence of alcohol, and in any place around the world, such an act is considered a felony offence. Thus, many health professionals recommend that we avoid driving when dehydrated. Your reaction time is diminished and your awareness of your surroundings is impacted.
Dehydration also impedes our ability to form concrete memory. This makes it harder for us to do several of our daily tasks, especially those that require greater mental reasoning and logic.
Hydration is also a crucial factor that helps our bowel movements. Fluid in our body acts as a form of a lubricant that eases the passage of food through the digestive tract. The food that we ingest goes through our digestive tract, making its way to our colon where excess water is reabsorbed into the body.
Not having enough fluid in our system could mean harder stools which are harder to pass. One solution that many health professionals recommend for those suffering from chronic constipation is to stay well hydrated at all times. Water promotes regular bowel movement that prevents constipation. And it serves as a medium in which nutrients from the food we eat can easily be absorbed in our intestines.
A headache is the main reason that so many people miss work. It is not a disease in itself but a symptom for a deeper problem. Most cases of headache will usually resolve by itself after a day or two of rest. But a more serious type of headache, attributed to dehydration, can persist longer and could really affect one’s life.
A dehydration headache can range from being mild, usually curable with a glass or two of water, to that of a full-blown debilitation migraine that can render a person bedridden and wracked by pain. These are all due to that fact that the body lacks fluid and electrolytes necessary for systems to function properly.
We constantly lose fluids while we do our regular daily activities so it’s important that they are replenished. A headache can be the body telling us it lacks the fluids and electrolytes it needs to function properly.
4. Dry Skin
Beauty and skin care products fly off the shelf as people desperately try to keep their skin looking young and fresh. But only a few know that there is one simple trick to keep our skin healthy: water: or more specifically, staying hydrated.
Most cases of bad skin have roots to fluids insufficiency. Dehydration makes our skin looking old, stretched out and lacklustre. Most dermatologists recommend, among other skin care habits, to drink enough fluids throughout the day and not wait to feel thirsty.
5. Muscle Cramps
There are many reasons muscle cramps occur but the most common one is due to dehydration. In most cases, especially during exercise or hot weather, if a muscle cramp occurs this could be due to lack of fluids and electrolytes in the body. It is during these times that the body loses a lot of fluid due to perspiration and exhalation, and thus it is even more imperative to increase fluid intake in order to replenish.
Even during cold weather, it is still possible to experience dehydration especially for those that work out, although the symptoms are milder and slower to manifest.
Humans are made up of 60% water and this water doesn’t just sit around inside us. It has a crucial part to play for our continued existence. Even a 2% loss of water from our body will result in numerous adverse effects, some of which I’ve outlined above.
There are more problems that are caused by not having enough fluid in our body. These five are simply the most common ones. It all boils down to maintaining a good balance of fluid in our body in order for all bodily systems to function optimally.
What is important is to pay attention to the signs that one might be experiencing, or is about to experience, dehydration.
Guest article by Annah Brooks, an ardent blogger who loves to write about health, beauty, fashion, food, travel and more. She blogs at KemperMedical, a leading global distributor of premium medical products including radiation protection products and radiology/ medical imaging supplies.
Not only does dehydration affect our mood and make us prone to stress, but it greatly decreases cognitive function as well.