As Bob Marley once said, “You ain’t gonna miss your water until your well runs dry.” Whether you like drinking water or not, your body needs water, but during these warm, summer months, what can happen if you don’t drink enough? Read Michael’s latest advice and top tips to avoid dangerous dehydration over the holiday period…
Water water everywhere…
Every day, your body uses water in all its cells, organs and tissues, transporting oxygen and nutrients, regulating temperature and digestion and acting as a lubricant for joints and aiding shock absorption.
It also protects your organs and tissues, moistens your mouth, eyes and nose, reduces the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products and helps prevent constipation.
With the recent bouts of hot weather and all the extra outdoor activity that warmer conditions might entail, not drinking enough water can be extremely hazardous and dehydration can set in within an hour. In severe heat, you can lose as much as 1.5 litres of water through excessive sweating and if you don’t replace this fluid, your body temperature will rise, risking heat stroke. Drinking water cools you down and lowers your core temperature.
Dehydration starts out initially with mild symptoms of thirst and a dry mouth but quite quickly, you can start to feel tiredness, headaches, constipation, dizziness, mood change, irritability, increased anxiety, sunken eyes, shrivelling of the skin, muscle cramps and achy joints. If the situation worsens, the symptoms become more severe, including: low blood pressure with a rapid heartbeat, fever, delirium, unconsciousness, severe diarrhoea and/or vomiting and an inability to keep fluids down.
The average male adult human body is made up of 58% water and the female is 48%. The body water in a newborn infant can constitute as much as 73% of total body weight whereas in obese people, the number can be as little as 45%.
Consistently not drinking enough water for an extended period of time can have underlying effects on your health and your weight…
- Low water = slow metabolism Your body’s ability to remove waste and detoxify is inhibited. A study found that drinking 470ml of water daily increases your metabolic rate by 30% percent (equivalent of 0.83 pints).
- Increased hunger When you are dehydrated, your body confuses this for the feeling of hunger which naturally causes you to eat when it’s probably not necessary.
- Slowed circulation and irregular body temperature Your cardiovascular system will be affected causing your body’s equilibrium to alter.
- Digestion problems Constipation will become a regular occurrence leading to weight gain.
- General fatigue Your energy levels will suffer meaning a constant feeling of tiredness, an inability to do exercise and an incapacity to concentrate properly. This can lead to comfort eating and weight gain.
- Increased blood sugar If you are diabetic, this is especially dangerous as your body needs water to break down sugar.
But the final stage of dehydration can do more than just make you gain weight and the life threatening symptoms associated require emergency medical intervention: heat injury, brain swelling, seizures, kidney failure, hypovolemic shock (aka haemorrhagic shock, a life-threatening condition resulting in the loss of more than 20% (or about 1/5) of the body’s blood or fluid supply. This severe fluid loss makes it impossible for the heart to pump a sufficient amount of blood around the body leading to organ failure) or coma and death, so don’t ignore the early signs of dehydration.
If you’re well hydrated, the colour of your urine should be pale and you’ll be urinating more frequently. We know that we can’t survive without water and our health can suffer surprisingly quickly if we don’t top up our fluid supply regularly, so this Summer:
- Have a glass of water on your desk, take water with you on a walk or when you go to the gym.
- Snack on fresh fruits like berries, watermelon, peaches and nectarines.
- Choose electrolyte-replacing drinks for maximum water absorption.
- If you’re going out on a hot day, wear loose-fitting clothes and a hat and stay in the shade.
- Train or play sports in the early morning or late afternoon/ evening.
In Leonardo Da Vinci’s own words: “Water is the driving force of all nature”. What more is there to say?