Chronic dehydration can develop for a number of reasons, but the primary and most obvious of these is poor eating and drinking habits. A sufficient amount of water in your body is dependent on consistent hydration throughout the day, as well as eating behaviour that promote a healthy water level.
Everyday, your body loses water naturally through the course of its activities. The average adult loses about 3 to 4 quart of water per day due to breathing (exhalation), perspiration, urination and the elimination
of bodily wastes in the form of feces. Breathing alone accounts for approximately one to two quarts of this water loss. Moreover, there are circumstances that can affect the amount of water the body loses. Exercise, high altitudes, and warm climates can all increase your daily water loss. Illness may also cause a decrease in water level, especially if fever or diarrhea occurs. And this is not to mention the times when you may pour out a glass of tap or bottled water because its color, taste or smell is off putting.
Although you are protecting your body from toxic chemicals, you still are not hydrating your system. Chronic dehydration sets in because people neglect to compensate for this natural water loss by keeping themselves hydrated throughout the day. Instead, most drink water or some other beverage only when they begin to experience acute thirst. This is a big mistake, according to Dr Batmanghelidj, who found that thirst signals are felt several hours after the body initially becomes dehydrated. During this time, a variety of problems can arise, producing symptoms such as dry skin, fatigue, joint soreness and muscle aches.
It may come as a surprise that your eating habits can have a profound effect on the water in your body. But think about how you respond to a drop in energy, which is one of the first and most noticeable signs that your water supply needs to be replenished. Do you try to elimate this energy deficit with a glass of water, or do you reach for a snack, soft drink, or other unhealthy substitute? If you’re like most people, your answer is probably the latter – and both cultural and physiological factors are to blame.
When your energy plumnets, a chain reaction is set off in your body. These brain releases histamine, a chemical that stimulates hunger by causing sensations in the mouth and stomach. The problem is that this chain reaction that results in hunger is also initiated when you are thirsty, and your brain cannot distinguish between these two needs. In other words, if you are not well attuned to your physical needs, you may easily confuse thrist with hunger, and then immediately attempt to boost your energy with food instead of water.
This confusion is compounded by the fact that a drop in energy usually produces sugar cravings, so the food instantly turned to are ones high in carbohydrates and sugar. A vicious cycle of low energy, unnecessary eating and continued water deprivation ensues, and the ultimate consequence is chronic dehydration – not to mention weight gain.
Chronic Dehydration And Obesity
Considering that how and what you eat can contribute to chronic dehydration, it makes sense that many people who are chronically dehydrated are also overweight or obese. As explained in the previous section, fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of insufficient water consumption. Having low energy not only increases your tendency to overeat, but also makes you less inclined to engage in physical activity. In addition, studies have shown that because drinking water influences your metabolism, inadequate supply reduces the body’s ability to burn fat. The likely result is excess fat storage, particularly on the waist, thighs and buttocks.
Water retention – which results when the body senses its water supply is running low – can also add extra pounds and produce symptoms typically associated with obesity, such as bloating, sagging skin and edema, a disorder marked by swollen wrists and ankles.
Fortunately, both chronic dehydration and obesity are reversible conditions. German scientists at the Franz Volhard Clinical Research Center in Berlin found that people could lose weight by increasing their water intake by 1.5 liters a day – approximately 51 ounces. This amount, they estimated, can help burn an additional 17,400 calories – the equivalent of five pounds – in a single year. Simply put, by rehydrating the body, weight can be controlled and kept at a healthy level, as water both provides energy and curbs the appetite. Dr Batmanghelidj himself discovered that overweight people who consumed two 8 ounce glasses of water before or after each meal were able to distinguish between thirst and hunger, and they began to eat less, both in quantity and frequency. These findings suggest that drinking enough water goes a long way in fighting what many consider to be the most serious health issue facing our population today.