We all know we need to drink water to remain at our optimum health and fitness. But what actually happens to the human body if you don’t drink water? The answer is that every human body is comprised of about 60% water, which is needed for a number of human bodily processes including blood circulation, regulation of body temperature, waste removal and detoxification. During everyday functioning, water is lost by the body, and this needs to be replaced. We notice that we lose water through activities such as sweating and urination, but water is lost even when breathing. It is essential to maintain a balanced water level, by drinking enough throughout the day. How much water you need to drink a day, depends on factors such as your age, body fat and gender and where you live. Men roughly need between 2-3 litres of water a day, while women need a bit less around 2 to 2.5 litres. If you don’t drink enough water, the outcome is usually very bad.
When you stop drinking water, you experience the signs of dehydration: feelings of thirst, hunger and irritability. As you continue to not drink, you stop urinating, have trouble swallowing, suffer from muscle spasms and experience nausea. Your blood stops flowing to the skin and your core body temperature increases. The lack of blood flow in your skin may cause you to turn a greyish- blue colour. After three to five days of not drinking water, your organs begin to shut down, especially the brain, which could have lethal consequences including fainting, strokes and in extreme cases, even death.
Scary stuff indeed, and this really does stress the sheer importance of the simple act of drinking water. Something which many off us struggle to do. According to the NHS website, drinking water, whether from the tap or a bottle, is the best source of fluid for the body. Fluid can be gained from other beverages and obtained through foods with a high- water content, such as soups, tomatoes and oranges but water is the best choice as it’s calorie-free. So much is talked about water and there are so many contractionary facts and very little science behind many of the specific rules. So just where do we start?
Universally agreed, on is that to function properly, all the cells and organs of the body need water, it lubricates the joints, it delivers oxygen throughout the body and forms saliva and mucus. (Helping us to digest our food and keeps the mouth, nose, and eyes moist) Water is needed in the processes of sweating and removal of urine and faeces. it makes minerals and nutrients accessible, as these dissolve in water, which makes it possible for them to reach different parts of the body. It boosts skin health and beauty, with dehydration, the skin can become more vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling. Some evidence also suggests that increasing water intake can promote weight loss by slightly increasing your metabolism, which can increase the number of calories you burn on a daily basis.
Staying hydrated is vital. Studies show that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 2% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function. Drinking a glass of water when you feel tired will help to power up your brain. Since your brain consists of 75% water, drinking a glass or two when you’re feeling sleepy will help to replenish your brain’s fluid levels, and increase cognitive functioning. If you don’t your physical performance can also suffer particularly during intense exercise or high heat. it isn’t uncommon for athletes to lose as much as 10% of their water weight via sweat. This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, and increased fatigue. It can also make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally.
In a study, researchers found that fluid loss of 1.4% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration and increased the frequency of headaches. A headache is one of the most common symptoms of dehydration. Some studies have shown too that drinking water can help relieve headaches in those who experience frequent headaches.
Asthma and allergies are worse, when dehydrated, as airways are restricted by the body in an effort to minimize water loss. So, drinking water can help alleviate symptoms.
The science claims that drinking water at the correct times of day can help to prevent common problems such as stomach pain, IBS, bloating, fatigue, overeating, high blood pressure, constipation, and even heart attacks and strokes. But when are the correct times?
Ayurveda suggests that is a healthy habit to drink water first thing in the morning, which is known as Ushapan. It helps get rid of many diseases in the body. Drinking water in the morning helps in flushing all the toxins in the body and cleanses your intestines. A glass or two first thing, can also help to jumpstart your brain and body out of sleep mode.
The correct way to drink water is to sit down with a glass of water and sip slowly and steadily. Unnecessary gulping of huge amounts of water may lead to lack of oxygen in the wind and food pipe, which could potentially give rise to heart problems. Drinking room temperature water is preferred over very cold water. By drinking one glass of water 30 minutes before and after a meal it aids digestion and allows the body to absorb the nutrients. Not only does the water prepare your intestines, it also prevents you from over-eating, since the water lines your stomach and makes you feel fuller faster. If you’re hungry between meals, pour yourself a glass of water to see if you’re actually dehydrated. Sometimes people think they’re hungry when they’re really just thirsty. Remember not to drink too soon after a meal as the water can dilute the digestive juices and we absorb water best when our stomachs are not full of food. Also drinking too much water during a heavy meal can lead to discomfort and feeling even more bloated. Drinking water before taking a bath can help lower blood pressure. An hour before bedtime drinking one glass of water replenishes any fluid loss that can occur during the night.
Avoid drinking water while standing as it can have an adverse effect on your kidneys, and can even lead to arthritis. Sitting while drinking allows your body to better filter the nutrients and direct the water to specific areas that need nourishing.
When drinking Alcohol (which is a diuretic, so it makes you lose more water than you take in can leading to dehydration) increasing water intake is often recommended. Drink a glass of water between drinks and have at least one glass of water before going to bed can prevent unpleasant symptoms experienced after drinking alcohol like hangovers.
Keep yourself hydrated while exercising is important, but avoid drinking too much. it’s incredibly rare, but it’s possible to drink so much water you put your health at risk. Excess water consumption during your workout will dilute your body’s natural balance of salt and you can become too low in sodium, a condition known as hyponatremia which leads to cell swelling that can cause nausea, vomiting, seizures and death.
Many people struggle to know which type of water is the best for them, because the market is so full, each brand claiming to have additional health benefits. Concerns about tap water and uncertainty about the health benefits to water filters just add to the confusion. It’s too vast a subject to talk about in a few lines, so I will post an additional blog post.
However, I would say that the health specialists, I have listened to, generally felt that for most people in developed countries tap water is just fine. If you prefer bottled spring water for its crisper flavour, that’s perfectly acceptable. Flavoured shop- bought waters can contain additives, so are best avoided. It may turn out that a lot comes down to personal preference.