How Dehydration Made Me Sick

“Why is this No 1 in your series?” I hear you cry.

Well according to the Natural Hydration Council, a survey of 300 GPs conducted in May 2015 revealed that:

  • One fifth of GP visits down to tiredness and fatigue
  • Dehydration thought to be the cause of one in ten consultations for tiredness and fatigue
  • Half of GPs would prefer to have more time to look at people’s hydration habits
  • GPs advise people follow the NHS recommendations on daily fluid intake

Without water no living organism can thrive

I was living in a dehydrated state

When I was young the most I remembered drinking was 1 or 2 glasses of water a day – I thought that was normal and was none the wiser.  I had plenty of other drinks though, like  Coca Cola, Pepsi, Fanta, lemonade – all diet versions of course.  They just tasted so good and were “hip” at the time.   My body was dehydrated!

2003 was the year I grasped the concept of hydration.  Within six to twelve months I dropped two sizes.  The funny thing was that I wasn’t even trying to lose weight anymore, I was just aiming to be healthy.

Over the months my weight-loss was effortless as I gained energy and vitality in my body.

I began my day with ½ pint glass of warm water and lemon in the mornings – every morning and to this day – 13 years on, I practice this daily without fail.

The fizzy drinks went out the window and were replaced by glasses of water (sometimes with a dash of Ribena – until i was off the sugar) and then ½ pint before bed.  This was my new ritual and something I continue to follow to this day.

Increasing my water intake helped things move through my body easily.   I ate less, not because I was dieting but just because I didn’t feel the need to eat more.   I felt I had more energy and was able to work out in a hydrated state so my performance in the gym improved.   My skin started to gradually get clearer and brighter, my focus improved dramatically.

Most people are chronically dehydrated.  Dehydration causes the natural thirst response to be mistaken for hunger and can therefore lead to unhealthy snacking.  The University of Washington conducted a study that showed one glass of water effectively shut off the ‘midnight machine’ syndrome in 100% of the dieters tested.

Water is of major importance to all living things.  In some organisms approximately 90% of their body weight comes from water.

Everything in your body contains water.  According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery at 31%.

Just think for a moment……does anything grow in a desert?  No not to my knowledge.  Apart from a few cactus trees and very dry plants making an incredible effort to grow with leaves and branches that quickly turn rough and dry.  The land around is dry and infertile.  And so is reflected in your body.  Nothing grows without adequate water.

Just 2% of dehydration will cause you to lose 20% of your performance

Water has many vital functions to help you keep going:

  • Every cell in your body needs water, it is one of the first building blocks for your cells
  • It helps regulate body temperature through sweating and respiration
  • It’s helps you get rid of toxins by flushing through your urinary tract
  • It helps soften stool and relieve constipation
  • It helps lubricate your joints
  • Your brain and spinal cord requires water as a shock absorber
  • It helps transport digested carbohydrate and protein molecules into the blood stream

The Royal College of Nursing reports the following additional benefits of adequate hydration:

Pressure Ulcers: poor hydration is likely to double your risk of pressure ulcers due to reduced padding over bony points.  Hydrating correctly enhances ulcer healing.

Constipation: In adequate hydration is one of the most frequent causes of chronic constipation.

Urinary Tract Infections: water helps maintain a healthy urinary tract and kidneys.

Kidney & Gallstones: Good hydration can reduce the risk of kidney and gallbladder stones by 39%

Heart Disease:  Adequate hydration reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 46% in men and 59% in women.

Diabetes: Water is an essential part of the dietary management of diabetes since dehydration can worsen diabetic control.  In poorly controlled diabetic individuals, high urine output can increase the risk of dehydration.

Water has been recognized as a required nutrient since ancient times.  In both Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine (two of the most ancient practices in holistic medicine) water is an important element in enhancing. well-being

If you are thirsty you are already dehydrated.

6 signs that may indicate you are dehydrated!

  • Physical performance: Do you get tired after exercising? Has your performance in the gym reduced?  Are you finding it hard to keep up the endurance?  Do you ever feel unmotivated to exercise?  As little as 2% dehydration has been shown to have significantly reduced performance in athletes.
  • Brain performance: Do you find your memory has lapsed, do you find yourself forgetting little things, do you get frustrated or agitated working with numbers, is your coordination poor?   Mild to moderate levels of dehydration has been shown to effect short-term memory, ability to work with numbers, visual tracking, and physical coordination skills
  • Poor Detoxification and elimination: Do you experience constipation on a regular basis? If so, then this may be a sign of dehydration – just drinking a little more water may help you to release.  Of course other issues involving poor diet and lack of exercise may be contributing to it……we will cover that in more detail later in the week.
  • Pain: Do you experience frequent headaches? Before heading for the medicine cabinet why not have a glass of water.  Dehydration can lead to the development of a headache and can serve as a trigger for migraines.
  • Dehydration is a risk factor for delirium and for delirium presenting as dementia in the elderly and in the very ill.
  • What colour is your urine? Detoxification – your kidneys need water to filter out waste from the bloodstream and excrete via urine.  If the colour of your urine is dark throughout the day, then this may be a sign that you need to hydrate.

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How much water should you drink?  Calculate your goal.

If your activity levels are average then each day you should drink half your body weight in ounces.  So for example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should be drinking 100 ounces of water a day which would work out to 2.96 (or 3) litres or 6.25 pints.

Half your body weight in ounces

(Body weight measured in pounds)

 1 ounce = .0625 pints / .0296 litres

Ideally you should take sips of water every 15 to 20 minutes.

Can You Drink Too Much Water?

Yes.  Like with anything, balance is key so be sensible!  Drinking too much water can dilute your body salts and create a condition called hypoantremia.  This can lead to nausea, headaches, confusion, fatigue, and in extreme cases, coma and death.   You can avoid this by ensuring you drink small amounts throughout the day and if you are exercising then replenish you electrolytes by adding coconut water to your intake.

I hope this information was helpful to you.  Don’t allow dehydration be either the cause or driver of your condition.  If you have any questions please comment below and I will do my best to support you.

If you are under medical supervision please speak to your medical advise before changing any aspect of your diet.

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