Health Problems That Can Be Caused by Chronic Dehydration
Fatigue, Energy Loss
Dehydration of the tissues causes enzymatic activity to slow down, including enzymes that are active in the production of energy. This production can fall so low in the case of acute dehydration that the individual suffering from it may not even be capable of standing up. He or she remains prostrate and motionless, in a somnolent or even unconscious state.
Although it does not go to this extreme, chronic dehydration nonetheless engenders a sense of chronic fatigue and lassitude. The effect on a person's psychic state is a noticeable lack of enthusiasm while working and a loss of joy in living.
If a person in this situation starts drinking sufficient quantities of water again (the question of quantity is discussed in chapter 6 of my book), his or her energy returns. A generous intake of water retriggers enzymatic activity, hence the return of energy. Regaining strength and energy is one of the effects mentioned by the majority of people who increase their water consumption to bring it back to normal levels.
When an alimentary bolus (a mass of chewed food) enters the colon, it contains too much liquid to allow stools to form properly. The excess water is absorbed by the wall of the colon to reduce this content. The removal process continues until the stools acquire their normal consistency, which allows easy evacuation.
With chronic dehydration, however, the removal of liquid can be excessive. As the body is not receiving enough water from the outside, it seeks to obtain it from all possible sources. One of the means it has available is to withdraw it from one part of the body to put it at the disposal of another. In this case, the body withdraws more water from the stools than it would normally. They then become dry and hard and difficult to eliminate.
Constipation caused by chronic dehydration can be corrected only by increasing daily water consumption. The body then ceases to make extra withdrawals of water from the stools, and they regain the necessary moistness to be eliminated normally.
Various digestive disorders can be caused by a lack of water: poor digestion, gas, bloating, pain, nausea, indigestion, and loss of appetite. In fact, the body produces 7 liters of digestive juices daily. In the event of chronic dehydration, the secretions are less abundant, and the digestive process cannot perform properly.
In this case, water should not be consumed during meals but separately, throughout the day, especially thirty minutes before mealtime . An amount of 10 ounces or 3 deciliters at a time would be appropriate . This ensures that the quantity of water available for the production of digestive juices is sufficient.
Gastritis, Stomach Ulcers
To protect its mucous membranes from being destroyed by the acidic digestive fluid it produces, the stomach secretes a layer of mucus. This mucus is composed of 98 percent water and 2 percent sodium bicarbonate. The large quantity of water forms a thick barrier between the mucous membranes and the acids of the gastric juices. Because of its alkaline properties, the bicarbonate that permeates the mucus also neutralizes the acids that attempt to cross this protective barrier.
In a state of chronic dehydration, the stomach does not have enough liquid available to properly manufacture the mucus. Among people who are predisposed to these kinds of disorders, some zones of the stomach do not have a good lining of mucus and thus are poorly protected. These zones can be attacked by the acids, which first cause an inflammation of the mucous membrane (gastritis), then lesions (ulcers).
In such cases, rather than resorting to artificial palliatives, it is preferable to assist the body to produce its own palliative, or protective mucus, by drinking more. A fairly generous consumption of water helps the stomach again produce sufficient amounts of mucus so it can protect its walls from attack.
Excess Weight and Obesity
Those who are overweight are eating more than their bodies are capable of using and eliminating. But why do we have a tendency to eat more than our physiology needs? There are numerous possible reasons, but one of them—thirst—is rarely mentioned.
There are two ways to satisfy thirst: we can drink a lot of fluids, or we can eat foods rich in water. If we opt for the second solution, the body receives the liquids it needs, but it also takes in nutritive substances it doesn't need, which contribute to its weight. More often than we might think, when we are thirsty we make the mistake of eating rather than drinking.
Although the two sensations are distinct, thirst is often confused with hunger. One reason is that eating can soothe thirst. A second reason is that the fatigue that accompanies dehydration is wrongly interpreted as a lack of energetic fuel, that is, sugar. In both cases we are dealing with a false sensation of hunger.
When we confuse thirst and hunger, a vicious circle is rapidly generated, because the more we eat, the greater is our need for water with which to manufacture digestive juices. So the more we eat, the thirstier we become. And because we are already confusing the sensation of thirst with that of hunger, we again eat instead of drink, which only increases our need for water, which is again mistakenly interpreted as hunger.
To break this vicious circle and reduce the quantity of food ingested, water consumption must be considerably increased. If we drink much more than we normally would (more than 2 liters a day), these false sensations of hunger cease. The quantity of food consumed shrinks and adjust to the body's needs.
In addition to the beneficial effect of the reduction of food intake, the overall metabolism is stimulated. This occurs because the rehydration of the tissues retriggers enzymatic activity, and thus the combustion of excess fat as well.
Cholesterol is one of the body's most useful substances. It is harmful only when present in excessive amounts, and then its greatest threat is to the circulatory system.
Out of the total quantity of cholesterol found in our bodies, one third comes from food, and the body produces two thirds. This production takes place in the liver and intestines. Hypercholesterolemia, the medical term for excessive cholesterol in the blood, can therefore have either an external cause (the foods we eat) or an internal cause (endogenous overproduction).
Among the numerous functions it performs, cholesterol takes part in the construction of the membranes (or walls) of the cells. Its role consists primarily of making them impermeable. The cells' need for cholesterol is constant, so the body produces it constantly. But this production can become excessive under certain circumstances and lead to hypercholesterolemia. This is notably the case with dehydration.