4 Harmful Effects of Dehydration

July 18, 2021

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Before you load up on vitamin pills and embark on your next juice cleanse, make sure you are well hydrated. It’s been said time and again but sometimes, with the demands of work and your hectic lifestyle, you might not even realize that you’re mildly dehydrated! You may think that the occasional dry spell is no big emergency, but by the time you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. As our bodies are made up of 70% water, a loss of even 1.5% can affect your mood, energy level, and cognitive function.

Dehydration doesn’t just mean the loss of water in the body. There are three main types of dehydration:

  1. Hypo-tonic Dehydration: the loss of electrolytes or minerals, such as sodium

  2. Hyper-tonic Dehydration: the loss of water

  3. Isotonic Dehydration: an equal loss of water and electrolytes. This will also disrupt the pH balance of the body. A balanced pH level is vital for the blood to transport oxygen and for cells to properly carry out their metabolic function.

Any of these types of dehydration can lead to the following:

Unexplained Tiredness

Even slight dehydration can cause a drop in energy levels. If you’re not properly hydrated, your heart will have to work harder to sustain your body and this can drain your energy, making you feel weaker. Don’t let dehydration zap you of your zing!

Irritability & Nervousness

The fight-or-flight response triggers many changes within the body. These include increasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, causing blood to thicken, raising blood pressure, and inhibiting digestion.

While the healthy body consists of about 70% water, the brain is normally around 85% water. As soon as the hydration levels in the brain fall below this level, its health starts to become affected. For instance, when the brain loses water, this influences brain chemistry which, in turn, affects your mood.

Unnecessary Snacking

For many people, the thirst signal is confused with the hunger signal. Instead of reaching for a muffin or a packet of chips from your office cupboard, try drinking a glass of water if you have an attack of the munchies. If you’re still hungry, grab a piece of fruit or a handful of heart-healthy nuts.

Muscle Cramps (Especially Leg Cramps)

When you sweat, your body tends to keep the fluid it has in store where it is most needed – the brain, the main circulatory system, and other vital organs. When the nerves that connect to the muscles aren’t surrounded by as much water and sodium as they require, they become hypersensitive and cause our muscles to involuntarily contract or spasm.

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