Dehydration Impacts Your Overall Wellness, Including Your Immune System
Written by Matthew Gines, MS, CNS
Nutritional Consultant – Palisades Center • West Nyack, New York
Matthew Gines holds a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition from The University of Bridgeport. He has over 15 years’ experience working with clients on developing and implementing lifestyle protocols, including healthy eating, stress management and detoxification. He has also obtained a PN Level 1 Exercise and Nutrition Certification and has extensive knowledge on supplements and healthy lifestyle coaching, as well as behavior modification. Recently, Matthew has qualified as a Certified Nutrition Specialist. Through motivational and accountability techniques, as well as focusing on prevention of chronic disease, Matthew is confident he can help you achieve your health and wellness goals.
Email Matthew: MGines@invitehealth.com
Let’s face it. Most of us know we aren’t drinking enough water. Most of us have even become much more aware of the importance of what proper hydration has on our health, especially during the COVID pandemic. But do you know that hydration goes beyond just drinking water? Replenishing essential minerals and electrolytes, especially when sweating a lot and during exercise, is vital for our overall wellness. You are actually weakening your immune system by staying in a dehydrated state. In fact, all of our bodies’ organ systems work better when properly hydrated and that includes our skeletal system.
The Importance of Sodium for Hydration
Water and salt go hand in hand; the loss of water through our regular bodily functions like urination and sweating) without an intake of sodium (from dietary salt) will cause dehydration. A review published in National Academies Press (US) demonstrates this well. Although water, consumed as water, is a major source of liquid in some parts of the world, this review found that much of the water consumed in the United States is taken in the form of other beverages. Median daily intake of water as such among respondents in this Nationwide Food Consumption Survey was 2.8 cups, coffee and tea consumption was about one and one-half cups, and soft drink consumption was one and three-fourths cups per capita. Also, many solid foods, especially fruits and vegetables, contain from 85 to 95% water.
Like dietary fat, salt also has a bad reputation. However, sodium is actually essential for fluid balance and cellular homeostasis, according to a study published in The Journal of The American College of Cardiology. The study looked at how dietary sodium can affect the body, including the heart, kidneys and brain as well as blood pressure and also addresses some controversies. This particular review of 103 randomized men and women between the ages of 40 and 75 found that the amount of salt in the diet should be adjusted to a person’s lifestyle. The old-fashioned way of looking at salt and blood pressure is not so cut and dry. Salt intake should be adjusted to meet sweat loss. A person subjected to high heat and a very active lifestyle will need more salt to compensate for loss as opposed to a salt-sensitive person who is sedentary and lacks potassium in their diet. The review also found that potassium intake, mostly in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables may decrease salt sensitivity and positively affect blood pressure. Sodium is essential for cellular homeostasis and physiological function. Excess dietary sodium has been linked to elevations in blood pressure in salt-sensitive individuals. Salt-sensitivity of blood pressure varies widely, but certain subgroups tend to be more salt-sensitive. The mechanisms underlying sodium-induced increases in blood pressure are not completely understood, but may involve alterations in kidney function, fluid volume, fluid regulatory hormones, the vascular system, cardiac function, and the autonomic nervous system. Recent pre-clinical and clinical data has proven that even in the absence of an increase in blood pressure, excess dietary sodium can adversely affect certain organs, including the blood vessels, heart, kidneys, and brain. Now the other side found that too low salt intake in the body combined with cases of excess loss through sweating and urination as we described earlier, also not enough water intake may lead to severe dehydration. The symptoms seen may be fever, heart arthymia, and hypotension, fatigue, muscle weakness, lethargy, dizziness, dry skin and lips, dry eyes and brain fog. Balance is key.†
“You are actually weakening your immune system by staying in a dehydrated state.”
It’s important to make sure the source of our salt is pure and natural, such as unrefined sea salt made from evaporated sea water or Pink Himalayan Sea salt which comes from caves. These are pure sources of salt that provide essential electrolytes and minerals our bodies needs to function properly, along with proper hydration. Dehydration happens as a result of water being lost from the body, which exceeds water replacement. The human body is made up of around 55% to 65% of water. Two-thirds of that water is inside of our cells and one-third is outside of them. Aim for a goal of drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water and make sure you are getting the recommended 2,300 mg of sodium a day from pure, natural sources. Salt from processed, packaged foods like potato chips, crackers and cookies do not count.
It can be a challenge to drink the proper amount of water each day, whether you may not be used to drinking enough or you simply forget to drink it. Because of this, many of us are deficient in electrolytes and may be experiencing some significant health concerns. The good news is there are ways to get over these hurdles. Let’s explore some.
HidrateSpark: The Smart Water Bottle
I have worked with thousands of clients regarding their nutrition and lifestyle goals and I can tell you without a doubt that I believe water intake is the most important of the fundamental basics of good health. Water is essential for life. Without it, after three to four days, our bodies would shut down. I tend to begin with guiding my clients on drinking the proper amount of water and making sure they have the proper intake of salt. One of the biggest reasons I hear from my clients as to why they are dehydrated is because they flat out forget to drink it. Our brains, specifically the part that tells us we are thirsty is the hypothalamus. Sometimes, we can be walking around chronically dehydrated. In this case, our bodies learn to adapt without adequate water intake and our bodies start to pull the water from other sources, including the brain, lungs, intestines and bones. As a result, our thirst mechanism sort of breaks down and we no longer get the signal from the hypothalamus to drink water.†
The HidrateSpark water bottle is a perfect solution to solving the problem of forgetting to drink your water. It’s a smart water bottle that tracks water intake and it lights up to remind you to drink! It also syncs to a free hydration tracker app via Bluetooth, which features improved sensor accuracy, displays a bold new glow to illuminate reminding you to drink and it’s BPA free. I highly recommend picking this up if you’re like so many people I’ve come across that easily forget to drink their water.
Invite Health’s Alkalizer Powder is an excellent source of Magnesium and Potassium -a must have when we’re talking about essential electrolytes. These minerals are essential to human health. Potassium is required for alkalinity, muscle function, electrolyte balance, and heart health, and Magnesium is required for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Most Americans are deficient in both. The ingredients in our Alkalizer Powder include Magnesium, Potassium and Beta Alanine to help to counter-balance acidic diets for muscle, bone and metabolic health.†
According to a study published in StatPearls Publishing, people may experience uremia, hyponatremia, hypernatremia, hypokalemia, hyperkalemia, metabolic acidosis, and metabolic alkalosis as a result of chronic dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. The study touches base on just how common dehydration is among adults and the negative effects it can have on our health.
There is no gold standard to test for dehydration. Serum and plasma osmolality tests are used often to diagnose but may be affected by the type of fluid lost or the acuity of the fluid loss. A popular definition of dehydration due to water loss is serum osmolality greater than or equal to 295 mOsm/kg. This 2015 Cochrane review of 1,200 adult patients, both men and women aged 40-75, used serum osmolality of greater than 294 mOsm/kg to define dehydration. Weight loss equal to or greater than 3% over 7 days may also be evidence of dehydration. Bioelectrical impedance analysis, urine specific gravity, the osmolality of urine, saliva or tears, tear volume, number of urine voids, and urine volume were not useful as tests by themselves for dehydration in the elderly.†
Green Tea Extract
According to a review published in Frontiers of Nutrition proper hydration can be associated with increased weight loss. According to the mini-review, this is due mainly from a decrease in feeding, and a loss of fat, through increased lipolysis. This review explains about the hypothesis that increased hydration leads to body weight loss, due mainly to a decrease in feeding, and a loss of fat, through increased lipolysis. This is the breakdown of fats and other lipids by hydrolysis to release fatty acids. The review comes from animal, mainly rodent, studies where manipulations of the central and/or the peripheral renin–angiotensin system lead to an increased drinking response and a decrease in body weight. This hypothesis comes from an association between chronic dehydration (extracellular dehydration) and raised levels of the hormone angiotensin II (AngII) linked with many chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. The review goes on to explain these effects involve an increase in metabolism due to hydration expanding cell volume. The results of these animal studies often can be applied to humans. Human studies are consistent with this hypothesis for weight loss and for reducing the risk factors in the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Increased water intake is associated with loss of body weight produced via two mechanisms, decreased feeding and increased lipolysis. The obverse also appears to be true. Mild, but chronic, dehydration is correlated with increased body weight and its dysfunctions. The main reason for this is likely angiotensin II (AngII), the principal hormone of body fluid regulation.†
A number of studies have observed positive effects of Green Tea Extract on fat metabolism at rest and during exercise, among both shorter and longer term intake including this one published in The American Society for Nutrition.he combination of proper hydration, exercise and consuming green tea extract not only helped the participants to increase energy but also to help burn fat according to the review. The polyphenols found in green tea extract help by protecting the body from free radical damage and inflammation. This nasty combination often comes along with excess weight gain and visceral fat. The catechins found in green tea extract helps with fat oxidation and metabolism. It seems that the positive changes to fat metabolism genes may occur in a variety of tissues following longer term Green Tea Extract intake according to the study.†
The body has tightly-controlled systems in place that help to regulate fluid and electrolyte balance in the body.
When it comes to optimal health and wellness, we must help our bodies out by giving it what it needs to perform. Whole foods, sunshine, proper sleep, stress management, fresh air, proper hydration, exercise and quality supplements are things we can provide our bodies to help it out. Remember, our bodies are incredibly good at adapting to its’ environment and whatever treatment we put it through. It is only concerned with staying alive and remaining in a state of homeostasis. Thriving health is up to us to achieve. Choose wisely.
Kory Taylor; Elizabeth B. Jones. “Adult Dehydration”. StatsPearls Publishing; 2020.
- National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on the Tenth Edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances. “Water and Electrolytes”. National Academies Press; US; 1989.
- William B. Farquhar, PhD,* David G. Edwards, PhD,* Claudine T. Jurkovitz, MD,† and William S. Weintraub, MD†. “Dietary Sodium and Health: More Than Just Blood Pressure”. Journal of The American College of Cardiology. 2015 Mar 17; 65(10): 1042–1050.
- Simon N. Thornton1,* “Increased Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss”. Frontiers in Nutrition. 2016; 3: 18. Published online 2016 Jun 10. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2016.00018.
- Adrian B. Hodgson, Rebecca K. Randell, and Asker E. Jeukendrup* ” The Effect of Green Tea Extract on Fat Oxidation at Rest and during Exercise: Evidence of Efficacy and Proposed Mechanisms1”. Advances in Nutrition; 2013 Mar; 4(2): 129–140. Published online 2013 Mar 6. doi: 10.3945/an.112.003269.