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Water consumption and its effects

Happy familyWater consumption is an essential for the survival and development of life. Between 50% and 80% of the human body is made up of water. Human body relies on water for many functions such as regulating body temperature, absorbing nutrients, protecting organs and tissue, making hormones and neurotransmitters, moistening eyes, nose and mouth, lubricating joints to help you move, transporting oxygen to all parts of the body and supporting cell growth and reproduction.  People usually ask about, ‘how much water should they drink?’ and the common response to this is ‘one to three litres’. The actual answer is, amount of water that someone should drink depends on how an individual metabolism works, the temperature they live in, their eating, their age and if they have any medical condition. The human body loses water through many different ways e.g. performing physical activity, sweating, breathing, urination, regulation of the cells, tissue and organs, and many more.  The possible signs of dehydration include bad breath, dry or flushed skin, muscle cramps, Fever, chills, food cravings especially for sweets and headaches. In this blog we will talk about how each organ depends on the water consumption and what will be the effects if there is any presence of dehydration.

Water In the Body

Water exists throughout the body. Our human brain is composed of approximately 80% of water. If water levels are too low, it can affect the brain cells functioning, leading to cognitive problems. If water intake is insufficient to replace free water loss, it may lead to dehydration. Dehydrated brain may show signs of increased neuronal activation which can impairs performance in tasks that require attention, psychomotor and immediate memory skills.

  • Our kidneys are composed of approximately 80% of water. Dehydration has multiple effects on the kidney, leading to urinary concentration due to activation of vasopressin that occurs as a result of increase in serum osmolarity due to the loss of body water. Dehydration may also lead to ‘pre-renal state’.  It is a state when there is a sudden reduction in blood flow to the kidney causing a loss of kidney function. Dehydration and reduction in GFR function of the kidney can increase the risk of kidney injury.  The other risks that may result in renal injury are use of pesticides, agrochemicals, heavy metals or other potential exposures. Inadequate water in the body makes it difficult for the kidneys to function at its best. It can lead to a concentrated urine which cause minerals from the urine to accumulate in crystal formation. These crystal formations get deposited in the kidney, causing kidney stones.
  • Our heart is composed of 75% of water. Heart is a hollow muscular organ that pumps the blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic contraction and dilation. Loss of water cause strain on the heart. The function of circulation of blood and volume of blood decreases when the body is dehydrated. To compensate, the heart beats faster, increasing the heart rate which can result in palpitations. Blood will retain more sodium which makes blood harder to circulate throughout the body. When these is a lack of water in cells, the brain sends a signal to the pituitary gland to secrete vasopressin, a chemical that causes constriction of the blood vessels. This causes blood pressure to increase which leads to hypertension.
  • Our lungs are composed of approximately 75% of water. Dehydration can affect the mucus to thicken which slows down the overall respiration and risk the individual to illness, allergies and other respiratory problems.  The movement of fluid between the airspaces, interstitial, and vascular compartments in the lungs plays an important physiological role in the maintenance of hydration and protection of the lung epithelium and significantly contributes to a proper airway clearance. Dehydration can lead to difficulty to clear out mucus, chronic bronchitis, breathing problems and exacerbation of Asthma/Allergies.
  • Our muscles are composed of approximately 70% of water. Muscles are attached to the bones, internal organs and blood vessels. The function of muscles is movement through contraction. Dehydration can cause muscle spasms and cramping which lead to joint pain. When the body becomes dehydrated, it loses electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride. The loss of electrolytes will result in muscle weakness and fatigue.  Dehydration negatively affects the contractibility by affecting thermal regulation, altering water movement across cell membranes and interfering with actin-myosin cross-bridge formation. Dehydration cause insufficiency of muscle function as a result the supporting joints and bones can get affected. It causes the joints to rub against each other, causing weakening and wearing over time.
  • Our liver is composed of approximately 70% of water. Liver removes toxins from the body’s blood supply, maintains healthy blood sugar levels, regulating blood clotting, digesting fats, storing significant amounts of vitamins A,D, E, K and B12, as well as iron and copper.  Dehydration cause dysfunction of the liver which cause toxins to build you in the body due to infrequent urination. Due to blood vessels compression, it can also cause contraction of bile ducts in the liver. These contractions can result in the formation of gallstones.

To find out if your body is dehydrated or if there is something else, skin test is a way to check. In this test, use two fingers to pinch up some skin on the back of the hand, and then let the skin go. The skin should bounce back to its normal position in less than a couple of seconds. If the skin returns to normal more slowly, there are chances that the individual is dehydrated. The ways to rehydrate the body are drinking water. It is the most convenient and cheapest way to stay hydrated. Consuming more fruits and vegetables. Avoiding alcohol, excessive caffeine will also help in staying hydrated. Avoiding excessive exercises will also help to preserve the hydrated status.

In conclusion, each cell, tissues, organs and body systems are hugely dependent on the adequate water consumption; therefore, it is extremely important to maintain good hydration levels to allow the body to function at its best.