Water is essential for all human life. In fact, it accounts for up to 60% of our body weight. It is a critical element to many bodily functions including digestion, elimination of toxins in the liver, and lubrication of the eyes and joints. Without it, the body’s minerals, glucose, and salts become imbalanced; which ultimately affects the body’s biological processes. Let’s examine the importance of water more closely and what happens to our bodies when we become dehydrated.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when we consume less fluid than the body excretes. Normally speaking, our bodies notify us when these levels are getting low. Unfortunately, it only takes a loss of 1% of the body’s water content before it requires replenishment.
If those lost fluids are not replaced, dehydration begins to occur. Once the water deficit has reached certain levels, drastic changes begin to occur, including:
- A decrease in brain tissue fluid and blood supply to the brain
- Changes in blood volume
- Blood becomes thicker
- Kidneys begin to retain water
- Loss of oxygen and blood flow to vital organs
- Less frequent urination
- Electrolyte imbalance
- A strain on the cardiovascular system
- The heart works harder to perform properly
- Ability to regulate body temperature compromised
- Increased risk for collapse or exhaustion
- Muscle spasms
While these internal changes are occurring, we feel the effects in a variety of ways. Initially, we are more thirsty and begin to feel fatigued. A mild headache will develop, followed by a physical and mental decline. While mild dehydration can be treated with fluid replacement, it can become life-threatening once it reaches extreme levels. Immediate attention is then required.
Most Common Causes of Dehydration
Dehydration most commonly occurs when not enough fluids are taken in or when too many fluids are lost. This can occur in a number of situations, including:
Diarrhea — The most common cause of dehydration, diarrhea prevents the absorption of water and nutrients into the intestinal tract.
Diabetes — Frequent urination is a common side effect to medication prescribed to diabetics.
Frequent urination — Non-diabetics prescribed certain medications, such as antipsychotics, blood pressure medications, and antihistamines, often urinate more frequently, lowering their body’s water content. Frequent consumption of alcohol can also be a factor.
Sweating — Extreme heat, physical activity, a fever, or sweating intensely are common factors leading to dehydration.
Vomiting — From influenza to foodborne illnesses and alcohol poisoning, intense vomiting causes the body’s water level to become imbalanced.
The proper amount of water needed varies drastically depending upon a number of factors including the composition of the body, gender, diet, climate, and metabolism. The Institute of Medicine recommends water intake between 3.7 and 2.7 liters per day – 80% from beverages and 20% from food. In addition to consuming enough food and water, there are other factors you can control to prevent dehydration:
Your environment — Individuals who work or exercise out in the elements should be aware of outside temperatures. They should drink adequate amounts of water and seek shelter in shaded areas regularly. Due to weakened temperature regulation systems, the elderly and the young should take extra precaution.
What you eat — The nutrients you put in your body define your overall health. With Earth’s fresh water supply in jeopardy, many are turning away from our standard food and water supply, seeking sustainable protein alternatives. LENTEIN is a plant-based, non-GMO protein powder derived from water lentils. Grown on an aqua farm, water lentils are a complete food, containing all the macro and micronutrients your body needs. 98% of the water used to grow LENTEIN is the same water that is recycled back into the lentil farm. LENTEIN makes a positive impact on both your health and the Earth.
What you drink — Choose natural thirst-quenchers, such as coconut water or juice from fresh vegetables and fruits. Other drinks, such as sports drinks and juices, can contain a lot of juice and artificial ingredients.
Since anyone can become dehydrated, regardless of physical activity, it is important to keep water around at all times and to always listen to our bodies. Thirst, extreme sweating, and a lack of urination all signal the body’s need for more water.