The world is two-thirds water. So is the human body. It might feel a little tough to grasp, but our bodies are 70 percent water. I mean, come to think of it, it isn’t that improbable. The majority of our organs are made up of water. And the most important aspect that makes up our bodies – blood – is actually liquid! Even the brain is mostly water and so are the lungs, which are about 83 percent water.
Once we get used to this idea, which is in fact, the truth, then it doesn’t sound that ridiculous when we say that not drinking enough water is extremely detrimental to the body. And here’s the interesting part – a lack of water in our bodies can actually have psychological effects as well. It makes us less alert and receptive to the environment around us and also has effects on our mood.
Each part of our body is dependent on water to stay healthy and fully functional. It provides nutrition to the bones, which absorb some amount of the water that we drink. It also helps in maintaining the ideal body temperature and provides nutrition to our spinal cord and brain.
However, this doesn’t mean that if you forgot to have water after breakfast this morning, all your bodily functions will be affected. In most cases, a mild case of dehydration can be easily rectified by drinking, say, a couple of glasses of water. However, if your body has been subjected to extreme conditions and is severely dehydrated, it can result in a malfunctioning of the body as a whole.
Here’s a more elaborate look at how dehydration can affect you.
1. How Does Dehydration Affect Your Brain?
Like we have mentioned above, the brain is principally composed of water – two-thirds of it, to be precise. So, when there is a lack of water supply to the brain, it actually shrinks and becomes smaller (1). This is the reason why you get a headache when you have not had enough water.
Apart from this direct physiological impact, it also impacts your mood. Most of all, because of dehydration, your sleeping patterns get affected the most. So, the next time you get a headache and realize it is because of dehydration, just down a glass of cold water! Your brain should revive within 20 minutes.
There are also more serious impacts of dehydration on the brain, especially if it is continuous and happens in regular intervals. For example, if there is excessive sweating while working out and no hydration, the brain goes into what is known as increased ‘fronto-parietal blood-oxygen-level-dependent’ (BOLD) response. This means that metabolic activities will be directly affected because of this.
2. How Does Dehydration Impair Your Cognitive Abilities?
Studies have revealed that dehydration has a major impact on your cognitive abilities (2). Tests were conducted on two groups of drivers – one group was given 250 ml water to drink per hour, while the other group was given just 25 ml. The results showed that the dehydrated drivers (the ones who drank 25 ml of water per hour), made significantly more mistakes than the ones who were hydrated. So, the next time you are going for a long drive, make sure you have your water bottles stacked up next to you.
3. How Does Dehydration Affect Your Body As A Whole?
Even a mild case of dehydration has the ability to send your body’s equilibrium into a tizzy. The thing is, by the time you realize that you are thirsty, you have already lost 2% of your body fluids and the effects of dehydration are already setting in. So, the best thing to do is to make sure you keep sipping on water all day long. While mild dehydration can be easily reversed, some of the long-term effects, like low blood pressure, high cholesterol, dry and aging skin, and high blood pressure can actually become life-threatening.
4. What Are The First Signs Or Symptoms Of Dehydration?
The most obvious way to tell if you are dehydrated is when you are thirsty. Another sign of dehydration is sugar cravings and hunger pangs. If you have dry lips and itchy and flaky skin around the mouth, that is also a very clear indication of dehydration (3). Other signs are muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate. You will also know that you are dehydrated when the amount of pee that you are making is less than average.
Please remember that your body needs more water than food. So, even if you have no other way but to skip a meal, do not skip on the water. It is crucial that you stay hydrated always. Share this with a friend who you know never drinks enough water and motivate them to stay hydrated!