As discussed in Part 1, water plays a vital role in nourishing the body and protecting against specific disorders. When you consume adequate amounts of water, your body starts to rehydrate itself, allowing it to function more efficiently with less stress and inflammation on the systems of the body.
Acute Dehydration was discussed in Part 1, and we all now know the basic signs and symptoms of dehydration, but what happens when you continuously neglect your body’s natural medicine. What happens when you are chronically dehydrated?
Give Your Body a Water Source!
Below are just three of the many disorders that are a result of chronic dehydration. I want to focus on these three disorders in this post and they may not seem like much, but interfering with these physiological functions will leave you in a world of hurt!
- Digestive Disorders
- Joint Pain
- Kidney Disorders
The normal direction of the passage of food is downward. There are one way valves that prevent upward motion and intestinal contraction (peristalsis) is downward.
Heartburn & GERD
In the early process of digestion, HCL (hydrochloric acid) is secreted to activate enzymes to breakdown certain foods. The acidic content known as chyme is pumped into the duodenum in the small intestines by passing through the pyloric sphincter.
The Pancreas must neutralize the acid with bicarbonate ions before it destroys the intestinal lining. A LARGE AMOUNT OF WATER is needed from circulation to manufacture this bicarbonate solution. When there is insufficient water, the digestive system will not allow the acidic contents of the stomach to reach the intestines. Now there is upward pressure, the pyolric valve will constrict and some of the acid will flow back into the esophagus (heartburn and GERD).
In dehydration, if the bicarbonate ions are not delivered, the pyloric valve will not receive the signal to open (Food remains in stomach longer leading to dyspeptic pain). This is a signal of thirst pain. Only water will give it relief. If dehydration continues, an ulcer will form.
One function of the colon is to reabsorb water. With dehyration, there is less water, the colon has to work harder to squeeze out what little water is available. Passage is slowed and waste matter is hardened. Increased food intake impacts more matter in the colon.
The transit time with constipation may take a few days! On top of drinking plenty of water, high fiber foods can help digestion and prevent constipation.
Water is abundant in cartilage cells. As cartilage surfaces glide over one another, some exposed cells die and peel away. New cells will take their place. In a well hydrated cartilage, friction damage is minimal, but in a dehydrated cartilage, the rate of abrasive damages is increased.
Chronic dehydration can also cause severe back pain. There may be compression of the intervertebral joint specifically the discs, leading to muscle spasms and back pain. Below is a picture of the basic anatomy of the vertebra and the discs. The disc is made up of three different structures: Protein, Cartilage and WATER. With lack of water and chronic dehydration, compression of the discs can occur leading to Low Back Pain.
Blood vessels respond to fluctuations in blood volume by opening and closing. When total volume is reduced, main vessels must constrict or there would not be enough fluid to fill the spaces resulting in higher blood pressure.
Shunting of blood circulations is common. For example, after a meal, most of the circulation is directed to the GI tract by closing circulation elsewhere (fatigue after eating a large meal). More capillaries are opened in the GI tract and fewer in the major muscle groups. After digestion, less blood is needed in the gut and circulation reopens in other areas.
Order of Circulator priority:
- Brain (CNS)
With insufficient water intake, cells become dehydrated and lose water to circulation. Capillary beds also close. Regulating blood pressure is intimately linked to the kidneys ability to excrete enough sodium chloride to maintain normal sodium balance, ECF (extra cellular fluid) volume and blood volume. In order to improve renal function, avoid high protein sources, drink water consistently throughout the day especially first thing in the morning with lemon or lime juice. Proper water intake will also reduce the risk of Kidney Stones as well as an array of other nutritional resources that we will save to discuss another day.
Take Home Message
Regardless of what people say or what the recommended amount of water intake is, you need to supply your body with water. Drinking consistently throughout the day, eating foods with adequate water content and checking your urine via the Hydration Chart will allow you to stay in a well hydrated state.
Counting glasses of water may not be practical, or thinking that if you don’t drink 8 glasses each day something bad will happen. This is not the case, but limiting water intake over long periods of time, can lead to some of these disorders noted above. Athletes, you are losing more water than the average sedentary individual.
Your water intake needs to be increased based on your level of activity, most importantly before and after workouts. Most of your workouts are immediately after school, so please drink water throughout the day so you do not come here fatigued and tired!
If you have any questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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