Our bodies need plenty of water to be able to function properly, which isn’t too surprising when you consider that so much of it is made up of water. We lose water every day every time we breathe, sweat, go to the bathroom and even blink. If you don’t replace what you’re losing, it can lead to dehydration.


Even being just a little bit dehydrated can make you feel tired and affect your concentration levels. You’ll probably first notice it if you get headaches or a dry mouth.


If you’re dehydrated more often than not, it can affect your health and wellbeing in other ways too. Here are some of the things that could happen if you don’t drink enough to maintain good health.


How to tell if you’re dehydrated

How can you spot the signs that you might be dehydrated? A few of the things that may signal this include:

  • Being thirsty
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling tired and fatigued
  • Having dark colored urine that may also have a strong smell
  • A dry mouth and dry lips
  • Muscle cramps
  • Not going to the bathroom much and not passing much urine when you do go


You could be more likely to be dehydrated if you have diabetes, aren’t very well, have spent a while out in the sun, got sweaty after working out or are taking diuretics that make you go to the bathroom more.


Dehydration and Inflammation

Dehydration can increase the amount of inflammation in your body. As you probably know, inflammation is heavily linked to a lot of illnesses so this isn’t something you want to encourage! High blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, and even cancer are just a few of the health problems that have inflammation as a big culprit.


Dehydration and Immunity

If you’re dehydrated, it’s a lot harder for your body to get rid of toxins and waste products. And if this is the case, it can affect how well your body can fight off infections and other illnesses. Higher levels of inflammation in your body can also have a negative effect on your immunity.

Experts also think that chronic dehydration can make your immune system more likely to turn in on itself and attack healthy cells as well as threats. This is a key factor in autoimmune conditions.


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Dehydration and Kidney Health

When it’s hard to remove waste products from the body, it can result in them building up and causing uremia, an overload of toxic waste products.

Not drinking enough water can also activate a system designed to hold onto the water that is currently in your body. This tells your kidneys to produce less urine and also constricts capillaries in areas such as the brain and heart. This can cause kidney damage if it’s a chronic problem.


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Dehydration and Heart Health

Not being properly hydrated can have an effect on your cardiovascular system too. In particular blood flow can be affected. To begin with your blood pressure is likely to drop, which is why you’re prone to feeling dizzy. As your body tries to raise it again, it can put a lot of strain on your heart. 

There’s another factor too and that involves the production of a chemical that encourages the blood vessels to be more constricted. This also increases your blood pressure as your body will find it harder to pump blood. Again, your heart will be under more stress.


Dehydration and Brain Health

Headaches and concentration problems are some of the signs of mild dehydration but the effects on the brain can go far beyond this. Your brain needs a fair amount of water to keep it functioning at its best – even more so than the rest of your body. This is why even slight dehydration can have a big impact on your cognition and energy levels.  It’s also been linked to depression.


Dehydration and Digestive Health

Usually, you’ll lose a decent amount of water in your stool and this helps it to be passed more easily. If you’re not very hydrated, your body will try to hang onto more water and tries to extract it water from digested food in your small intestine. The end result? Constipation is a lot more likely. Your stool will be harder and drier, which can be a lot more difficult to pass.


Dehydration and Joint Health

Your joints need a certain amount of lubrication to stop them rubbing against each other and not drinking enough water can upset this delicate balance. If you’re well-hydrated, any cartilage that does start to wear away will be replaced by new cartilage but if you’re dehydrated, this is can take a lot longer to happen. The nutrients that you need for repair and renewal find it much harder to get to their destination and joint problems can become a problem.

So there you have it – staying well hydrated can help your immunity and digestion, and keep your heart, kidneys, joints and brain healthier. Have you had enough water today?


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Jesslyn Lim

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach

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