Since the human body is about 60% water, replacing water that you lose through sweating and urinating is extremely important. If you drink less water than you lose, you could face some very serious health problems. Health authorities have long recommended drinking 2 liters (half a gallon) of water a day.
What happens when you drink less than a liter (1 quart) of water a day? Dehydration can be a serious medical issue. What are some of the most serious issues that chronic dehydration causes?
Can you get cancer from not drinking enough water? How do joints react to not getting enough water? We’ll address some of these questions. You might be surprised at the negative effects of not drinking enough water.
Chronic dehydration can lead to problems with the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract. Infections, kidney stones and kidney failure can result from not drinking enough water. UTIs are painful and can cause kidney damage and sepsis. Kidney stones are painful and may require medical intervention.
The risk of bladder and colorectal cancers is higher in people who don’t drink enough water. This is possibly because the kidney and colon aren’t cleaned out regularly and cells develop cancerous properties.
Not drinking enough water seriously affects brain function. The most serious issues are seizures. If you are dehydrated, electrolytes like potassium and sodium get out of balance and lead to seizures.
Even if you don’t seize, you may have decreased brain function. One study showed that a 1.36% loss of body weight in fluids impairs moods and concentration and increases headaches. That percentage is quite a bit – you generally have to sweat heavily. However, not replacing water after you lose it can add up.
If you don’t drink enough water, your body can’t move solid waste through your intestines. You end up being constipated. Constipation can have some unpleasant side effects. If you strain to pass feces, you can develop hemorrhoids – painful lumps of pooled blood trapped under the skin.
You might develop a fecal impaction. In this dangerous condition, feces harden and build up in the colon. It can lead to problems with the digestive system.
Chronic dehydration can cause high blood pressure or hypertension. When cells lack water, the body constricts blood vessels through release of a hormone called vasopressin. Hypertension is dangerous. It can lead to heart failure, strokes, damaged arteries, and other CV problems. Hypertension is also linked to certain types of dementia.
Drinking more water can help to alleviate hypertension. Water alone won’t drop high blood pressure since there are many factors, but it definitely helps.
Chronic dehydration can lead to joint damage. Dehydration allows cartilage that cushions and protects bone ends to rub together. That weakens the cartilage and causes damage. Eventually, you will develop arthritis in that joint and suffer even more pain and loss of function.
If you stop the chronic dehydration, water can help new cells form and repair cartilage, as long as the damage isn’t too advanced. Since joints wear under normal use, keeping them well hydrated is very important.
These are only five of the results from drinking less than a liter of water a day. There are more! It should be pretty obvious that drinking enough water is very important.
Did you know that drinking too much water can be just as dangerous? In order to drink exactly the amount of water you need, follow these guidelines. If you are thirsty, drink. When you are no longer thirsty, stop. Your body is the best judge of how much water you need.
You don’t need to drink just water either. Juicy fruits and other liquids count. Just try to avoid sweetened drinks to avoid other health issues.