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THE UNDERESTIMATED EFFECT OF WATER AND HYDRATION ON HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

Mya Care Blogger 16 Aug 2022
THE UNDERESTIMATED EFFECT OF WATER AND HYDRATION ON HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

Disclaimer: Please note that Mya Care does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided is not intended to replace the care or advice of a qualified health care professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen. Do not reproduce, copy, reformat, publish, distribute, upload, post, transmit, transfer in any manner or sell any of the materials in this blog without the prior written permission from myacare.com.

It’s no secret that without water, one would perish within a matter of days. Despite knowing the importance of water for life, we know relatively little about water, where it comes from, and why it’s an essential part of our biology.

This article attempts to discuss why we need water, the risks pertaining to dehydration, and which sources of water are best for overall health and well-being.

Why We Need Water

So far, scientists have identified three very important roles for water in the body:

  1. Cell Function. The most obvious biological need for water would be to replenish cellular fluids and to maintain their balance for cellular function. The internal compartment of any given cell mostly comprises of water, in which hundreds to thousands of chemical reactions take place. The quality of cellular water therefore affects the overall function of every cell. Water can also be viewed as a structural component of cells that holds the cell in the correct shape when adequate hydration is maintained. Cells in all tissues shrink when dehydrated and swell when overly hydrated, which affects its structure and function.
  2. Fluid Ion Balance. Water is required by cells for the movement of useful substances and to regulate their levels both inside and outside of cells. During dehydration, ions are concentrated outside of cells and battle to move without depriving cells of fluids. The body eliminates less water when dehydrated, voiding more concentrated urine. During over-hydration, the opposite occurs, diluting ions and interfering with their movement in and out of cells.
  3. Thermoregulation. In the case of humans, water is required for producing sweat and for thermoregulation. When we sweat, heat is lost due to evaporation which helps to normalize core body temperature when elevated. Hot water in the form of bathing and warm beverages also contributes towards keeping the body warm in cold weather.

Much remains to be learned on the dynamics of water at the chemical and atomic level inside of cells, and how these dynamics impact upon cellular reactions and processes.

How Thirst and Hydration are Regulated in the Body

The kidneys are the main organs involved in regulating body water levels and blood pressure. This is achieved through controlling the elimination of fluids from the system. The hypothalamus coordinates with the kidneys for this to occur and regulates the sensation of thirst alongside the tastebuds.

During dehydration, extracellular electrolyte concentrations increase in the body. This activates osmoreceptors inside cells, as well as baroreceptors outside of cells due to extracellular pressure. These factors signal for the hypothalamus to release vasopressin, which initiates water retention and production of concentrated urine.

With adequate hydration, electrolyte levels are diluted, which inhibits receptor activation and vasopressin release. If one is deficient in electrolytes, the response to dehydration may be blunted and cells may battle to absorb water; both of which can increase dehydration severity and related risk of mortality.

Sensation of Thirst. When fluid is consumed, the tastebuds send signals off to the brain which inform it of the mineral salts in the fluid. As a result, it responds by downregulating the sensation of thirst. The brain is unable to tell the difference between water poured over the tongue and ingested water that makes its way to the bloodstream. This is the reason why one can feel satisfied immediately after drinking a glass of water when thirsty.

Other organs and body systems involved in regulating hydration include the gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system, skin, and respiratory tract which provide feedback to the hypothalamus about the body’s total hydration status.

Adverse Effects of Dehydration

Dehydration is a potentially life-threatening occurrence. Adverse effects of dehydration include[1]:

  • Increased Oxidative Stress. Water is not only vital for cooling, but also serves as a vital source of oxygen to regulate cellular respiration. Consequently, dehydration is associated with increased oxidative stress and inflammation at the cellular level.
  • Fatigue and Reduced Endurance. Dehydration reduces one’s ability to perform physical activity with an optimal output, promoting fatigue and a lack of endurance. Keeping hydrated protects against fatigue, helps to maintain endurance and is also known to decrease inflammation associated with exercise. Exercise can induce dehydration that persists for hours after, particularly if initiated in a mildly dehydrated state or when acclimatizing to hot environmental temperatures.
  • Headache and Decreased Cognition. Inadequate hydration has reflected reductions in cognition across studies that have manifested in different ways. Some results report deficits in short-term memory, visual perception and physical coordination in response to dehydration, while others reveal headache onset, reduced attention span, lower arithmetic ability, and emotional volatility. These effects were often more pronounced in studies that assessed dehydration in the context of heat stress. Rehydrating is not known to increase one’s cognitive capacity, but does seem to improve mental alertness.
  • Associated with Delirium Risk. Severe dehydration has been proven to induce delirium, serving as a risk factor for both delirium and dementia. Many forms of illness that predispose one to delirium typically include a component of severe dehydration as well. These include having an altered electrolyte balance, profuse water loss (or retention), nutritional deficiencies, metabolic deficits and kidney dysfunction.
  • Potential Kidney Damage. The kidneys are specialized organs that regulate fluid balance in the body as a whole. Adequate water ensures the kidneys function at their best. In dehydration, the kidneys use less water and more energy to function and produce urine. This alone increases the risk for damage. Dehydration is also associated with kidney and bladder stone formation.
  • Reduces HPA Function. Dehydration and hypernatremia have been associated with decreased activation of the stress response in mice put under pressure. The dehydrated mice showed reduced cardiovascular, adrenal, and behavioral symptoms in response to a well-documented stressor.[2]
  • Affects Heart Rate and Blood Flow. Dehydration reduces the water content of blood, causing compromised circulation, lower blood pressure and increased vasoconstriction to compensate. Drinking water can lower heart rate and beneficially increase blood pressure. This effect is different to that observed for increased electrolyte concentrations in the bloodstream, as it serves to normalize blood pressure. Excess fluid is simply voided through kidney elimination.
  • Negatively Impacts Digestion. Water is required for maintaining several aspects of digestive function. It is required for digestion, nutritional absorption, colonic fermentation, optimal intestinal transit time and stool formation. The gut is also the main site for water absorption and rehydration, recorded to absorb up to 20 liters per day from ingested solids and liquids. Dehydration influences all these functions, promoting nutrient loss, indigestion, gut dysbiosis and constipation.
  • Insulin Resistance and Hyperglycemia. Cellular and animal studies show that cellular dehydration induces similar metabolic effects to hyperglycemia and insulin overload[3] [4]. A high-sugar diet has also been shown to induce dehydration, which was reversed with adequate water intake. Hydration may lower the incidence of hyperglycemia in those with diabetic ketoacidosis.

By contrast to the above effects, adequate hydration improves overall health and well-being[5], particularly in most of the above highlighted areas.

Risk Factors for Dehydration

The following can increase the risk for dehydration:

  • Decreased Fluid Intake. Low fluid intake is an obvious risk factor for dehydration; however, it may not be obvious how much fluid one ingests daily. We get fluids from a variety of foods, beverages, and cellular processes, each of which contribute differently to hydration (see below).
  • Electrolyte Imbalance. If body electrolyte levels are too diluted or too concentrated, the risk for cellular dehydration is increased. Many refined beverages contain minerals and other substances that can increase blood pressure and the risk for dehydration. Furthermore, nutritional deficiencies and profuse mineral losses can result in impaired ability for rehydration.
  • Heat Stress. Sweating is a functional form of water loss that is required for body cooling. Prolonged sweating progressively increases water loss and the risk for dehydration.
  • Age. The elderly are more at risk for dehydration due to having a decreased response to dehydration on average. Studies reveal that older individuals tend to drink less, feel less thirsty and do not take in enough fluid to rehydrate when exhibiting a body water deficit.
  • Gender. Women appear to be slightly more prone to getting dehydrated in response to fluid restriction by comparison to men.[6] When deprived of fluids, the male body compensates appropriately to conserve fluids, while the female body does not. Theoretically this could be related to the way in which fluid dynamics are affected by the menstrual cycle and female sex hormones[7]. While the study confirmed that the menstrual cycle did not improve or detract from the outcome in women; the lack of fluid conservation in response to fluid deprivation may be protective of the menstrual cycle, which already promotes fluctuations in vasopressin and body water dynamics in order to function.
  • Chronic Diseases. Many diseases convey elements of dehydration, such as nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, hormonal and metabolic dysregulation, decreased kidney function and more. Any such factor can increase the risk for dehydration. Health conditions associated with dehydration include kidney stone formation and kidney disease, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, dental cavities, and urinary tract infections.
  • Physical Inactivity. In a small study on healthy male athletes, it was shown that prolonged bed rest induced dehydration. These effects were counteracted through supplementing with fluids and electrolytes.[8]

The Effects of Different Water Sources on Hydration and Health

While it’s important to keep hydrated, it’s still unclear how much water is needed on a daily basis for optimal health. Experts advise to drink between 2.5 and 3.5L per day[9] in order to keep urine diluted and to protect the kidneys. Water intake requirements vary between individuals in accordance with daily physical activity, temperature, and body size[10].

In a small study, increasing water intake in healthy volunteers was shown to lower systolic blood pressure, increase body temperature, reduce concentrations of nitrogen in urea and improve kidney filtration.[11]

The source of water is an important consideration to make. Both food and beverages can contribute towards one’s daily water intake, yet water is the only beverage that consists of 100% water. Other water sources will contain a variety of other nutrients that may affect hydration positively, negatively or neutrally.

Different water sources are discussed below in the context of hydration and health.

Mineralized Water

Mineralized water is essentially the golden standard for optimal hydration purposes. Yet there is no currently known understanding of what kind of mineralized water is best for human health. Minerals are found in almost all types of water in varying concentrations and not all minerals are necessarily conducive to hydration.

  • Electrolytes

The most important minerals for rehydration are the electrolytes, which have been shown to improve hydration when present in consumed liquids in healthy ratios.[12] Basic electrolytes consist of Mg, Ca, Na, K, Cl and bicarbonate, and typically occur in a number of forms in water.

While sodium and potassium are generally thought to be the most important electrolytes relevant to hydration, large concentrations of any electrolyte can promote dehydration and high blood pressure. Moderate concentrations in the right ratios help to stabilize the movement of fluids and keep body water levels balanced. The kidneys are very skilled at conserving electrolytes if intake is insufficient to maintain adequate hydration[13].

Water is most rich in calcium and magnesium, both of which have an impact on body sodium and potassium levels. Researchers speculate that calcium and magnesium ought to be present in water in a ratio of 2-3 parts calcium to 1 part magnesium. Calcium levels in water are associated with water palatability and “freshness;” whereas low mineral content is associated with less palatable (“bitter”) water.[14]

  • Bottled Mineral Water

Contrary to popular opinion, the majority of bottled water contains a low level of minerals compared to that found in tap water. The low mineral content of bottled water was proven to negatively impact bone mineral density and fertility of lab rats[15]. The study highlights how the mineral profile of natural bottled water, artificial bottled water and purified bottled water are all relatively similar.

Thus, most of the bottled water sold is low in minerals and cannot truly be regarded as optimal mineralized water.

  • Filtered Re-mineralized Water

Filtered water proved to have the best results in a small scale study conducted on lab rats. By comparison to reverse osmosis water and tap water, the filtered water showed the best results in terms of lowering blood pressure, increasing antioxidant activity and lowering markers of inflammation.[16]

  • Hard Water vs Soft Water

Hard water generally refers to water with a high calcium carbonate content, however various forms of magnesium, sulfate, chlorine and several metals can also contribute to the hardness of water. By contrast, soft water maintains low levels of these compounds.

Water hardness may be permanent or not, depending on the composition of the dissolved solids it holds. Carbonate hard water compounds, such as calcium carbonate, can be removed from the water with boiling. Non carbonate compounds cannot, such as calcium sulfate.

Possible Adverse Effects of Hard Water. There is currently a small body of evidence that highlights adverse effects associated with long-term hard water consumption. A few epidemiological studies show a weak association between hard water intake and cardiovascular disease, various types of esophageal and digestive cancers, neurological deficits, and all-cause mortality. [17]

Soft Water May Be Worse. Other studies point towards the opposite conclusion, showing that soft water very low in minerals is likely to be worse for overall health than hard water high in minerals[18]. There is likely to be an optimal health range for calcium and magnesium content in water. More research is required before firm conclusions can be drawn.

The mineral makeup of the hard water is known to affect the result:

Excess calcium intake can increase the tendency for kidney stone formation[19], which detracts from kidney function and body water regulation. Nonetheless the risk of this occurring as a result of hard water consumption is minimal, as keeping hydrated protects against kidney stone formation and kidney dysfunction. Furthermore, some studies show that calcium binds to oxalate which further serves to lower the risk for kidney stones.[20] In those with impaired kidney function, excess calcium intake may increase the risk for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

Water low in calcium can increase the risk of bone fractures, demyelination, other neurodegenerative diseases, and premature birth. An elevated magnesium content is likely to protect against cardiovascular disease[21] and cerebrovascular disease.

While tap water may be higher in minerals, the mineral forms, variety, and chemical additives are all known to detract from health in the long run. Tap water is usually classified as ‘hard water’ and is usually high in calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is not easily absorbed by the body, and therefore is regarded as safe in the quantities found in drinking water.

Common Water Contaminants

Surveys of water in the US have shown that even water purification facilities of the highest standards are prone to having small amounts of pollutants. Some of the most common tap water contaminants are briefly discussed below:

  • Iron may be present in pipes due to rusty faucets. Iron-laden water can stimulate the growth of water-borne pathogens, including E. Coli[22], and is known to increase bodily inflammation when ingested. Studies show an association between iron exposure and irritable bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis[23]. Iron overload may increase carcinogenic cell mutations and promote a specific type of cell death known as ferroptosis. The iron content of groundwater is usually much higher than seen in surface water, and thus iron overload may be a potential risk for borehole users.
  • Copper is another contaminant found in tap water[24] due to the presence of copper fittings, pesticides (copper sulfate) and the pipes in old buildings. Due to low absorption, toxic side effects of copper are mostly reported in cases of acute exposure to large quantities. Symptoms include internal bleeding, ulcers, liver decay, jaundice, kidney damage, cardiovascular concerns, shortness of breath and neurological complications[25]. The presence of copper in drinking water is increased in soft water and if the plumbing is left stagnant, is heated or the water contains a lower pH.[26] Copper may be able to accumulate in the body over time, however little is known about the effects of long-term chronic low-dose exposure.
  • Halogens are other common contaminants found in tap water, often present as a result of industrial operations. Fluorine and chlorine are routinely added to water in treatment plants for sterilization, with strict measures in place to control their presence in the final product. Studies show that these halogens form by-products during the disinfection process that are known to be toxic[27], promote inflammation[28] and accumulate in the body over time.[29] [30] In rural and developing areas, control measures may be less stringent and the water may contain higher levels of these chemicals.
  • Plastic. Bottled water also contains plastic compounds that leach from the bottle over time, many of which have been shown to possess endocrine disrupting properties. Furthermore, despite its publicity, bottled water may be at an increased risk for microbial contamination depending on the way in which its processed.
  • Coliform Bacteria. Outbreaks of coliform bacteria, such as E. Coli, have been reported to occur semi-frequently in tap water in the US[31]. In many developing countries, water is a known issues in this regard. Coliform bacterial infections are a leading cause of water borne illness. In areas with frequent outbreaks, home water filtration systems are optimal.
  • Other. Aside from the above-mentioned pollutants, trace amounts of other substances can be found in tap water. These include hormones, pharmaceuticals, fire retardants, pesticides, detergents, heavy metals, nitrates, volatile organic compounds and more. The concentrations of these substances are extremely small, and a slow bioaccumulation has been observed throughout the food chain. The effects of life-long exposure to these pollutants are still largely unknown and will likely depend on the quantities found at varying water sources.

Reverse Osmosis Water (Demineralized Water)

Reverse osmosis refers to a method of water purification that efficiently removes more than 99% of contaminants. While this is one of the most effective ways to purify water, it also removes all minerals, producing completely demineralized water. Demineralized water is commonly known to detract from health and hydration.

Electrolytes are required for optimal hydration at the cellular level. Consumption of water devoid of minerals serves to dilute electrolytes in the body, which theoretically results in cellular dehydration in the long run, due to improper uptake and utilization of water by the cell.

Research additionally indicates that reverse osmosis water purification systems are prone to bacterial growth at higher ambient temperatures (±35°)[32] [33]. The minerals in water typically contribute towards its purity, and in the right ratios, help to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria while encouraging neutral or beneficial bacteria to flourish.

Like bottled water, reverse osmosis water may contain small levels of plastic polyamide compounds due to the way in which it is processed (via polyamide membranes).[34]

Structurally Altered Water

Aside from minerals and pollutants, the structure of water can be changed through adding different forms of its basic components hydrogen and oxygen. Water that has been structurally altered can have different health properties, as described below.

  • Ozonated Water

Ozonated water is water that has been treated with ozone or O3. The dissolved O3 content has been shown to disinfect water by oxidizing a wide range of bacteria and parasites. Over the course of 30 years, ozonation was shown to reduce the risks associated with water chlorination of surface water.[35] In the case of sepsis or acute digestive infection, ozonated water may help to reduce inflammation by inhibiting gut bacteria and their harmful metabolites.[36]

Unfortunately, ozone may additionally oxidize other pollutants and disinfectants, generating harmful chemical by-products.[37] A small study revealed that some parasites may become resistant to ozone treatment and promote disease in those who ingest ozonated water.[38] Other data suggests that ozone may interfere negatively with metabolism and respiratory function, as well as increase the risk for stress, allergic reactions, gut dysbiosis and diabetes in susceptible individuals.[39]

In terms of hydration, consuming ozonated water is not likely to cause dehydration or interfere with the movement of cellular fluids. However, due to its potential metabolic effects, it may increase hydration requirements.

  • Oxygenated Water

While oxygen is part of water’s basic formula, water can trap extra oxygen molecules when stirred. Normal drinking water contains roughly 6-8mg extra O2 per liter. Studies have confirmed that the extra oxygen (15-500mg/L) does not contribute positively or negatively towards health or hydration[40]. In a study conducted on runners, beverages supplemented with extra O2 improved lactic acid clearance and post-work out recovery, but not athletic performance.[41]

  • Carbonated Water (Sparkling Water)

Carbonated or sparkling water is known to be acidic, able to improve digestion and enhance the feeling of fullness.[42] The mineral profile of sparkling water varies, yet is similar to that of still water with a trend for higher bicarbonate levels.[43] There does not appear to be a difference in hydration status between carbonated and still water.

Sparkling water may erode teeth[44] and flavored sparkling water has been shown to be roughly as acidic as orange juice[45]. Studies show that ingesting large amounts of carbonated beverages may result in gastric distress[46].

  • Hydrogen-Enriched Water

Hydrogen-enriched water appears to be as hydrating as ordinary water[47] and is sold commercially for its alleged health benefits. Some in vitro experiments reveal that hydrogen-enriched water can protect against the inflammatory effects of dehydration better than double distilled water.[48]

Research on mice reveals that it may protect the lungs and blood from damage related to fine particles. This effect was not observed in mice fed ordinary purified water.[49] Other possible benefits include enhancing cellular antioxidant defense systems, improving regeneration[50], lowering inflammation[51], increasing longevity markers[52] and reducing symptoms of metabolic acidosis. Hydrogen-enriched water was shown to mildly improve sprint performance in athletes, as well as lower fatigue and recovery time.[53] [54]

  • Heavy Water (Deuterium Oxide)

Heavy water, also known as Deuterium oxide (D2O), is water containing a heavy isotope of hydrogen (deuterium) that weighs double that of normal hydrogen.

Normal water contains 1 atom deuterium for every 6760 atoms of hydrogen, which roughly translates to 148 ppm deuterium in ordinary drinking water.[55]

While very little is ultimately known about deuterium, it is acknowledged that it affects cellular processes including division and energy metabolism.[56] Elevations tend to pose adverse effects on these processes, while reductions could improve cellular functions.

Deuterium in Cellular Respiration. The cell works towards breaking deuterium down into smaller hydrogen particles, which contribute towards lowering the presence of oxygen free radicals. While this may be beneficial in some applications, it has been shown to increase cellular growth and aberrations in metabolism. This may pertain to the fact that deuterium found in place of ordinary hydrogen in DNA chains increases the mutagenicity of the cell.[57] [58]

Deuterium-enriched water appears to have a slightly sweeter taste that can activate sweet taste receptors.[59] While it is not yet currently known what effects this may pose on metabolism, dysfunction in these receptors is associated with metabolic diseases, including diabetes and obesity.[60]

Benefits of Deuterium Depletion. Consuming water with less deuterium typically decreases the deuterium content of the cells in the body. This reduces the energy requirement for the cell, enhances regeneration and regulates cell growth by ensuring less deuterium is incorporated into important cellular structures. Studies reveal that consuming such water may increase free radical content relative to the difference in deuterium, however this is known to normalize after an adjustment period. In experimental studies, deuterium-depleted water had anti-inflammatory benefits for rats with sepsis[61] and was shown to slow growth in tumor cells[62] [63].

Deuterium-Depleted Water is sold commercially as a health supplement. From the perspective of cellular hydration, research reveals that the cell is best hydrated in a low deuterium environment and that deuterium-depleted water is likely to be protective against the effects of dehydration.

Commercial Beverages

Water is present in all beverages, however not all beverages are equally as hydrating. Studies that review hydration in the short term (24hours), and under stable environmental conditions, show that the type of beverage does not affect hydration status in the body.[64]

However, longer term studies and those testing conditions that challenge hydration reveal that beverage choice may affect body water status. Most results show a minimal impact, highlighting the general importance of ingesting fluids to remain hydrated.

  • Beverages high in minerals. Fluids with electrolytes may help to prevent dehydration or promote rehydration, depending on the context. In hot environments where water is lost due to excessive sweating, beverages that promote water retention help to preserve hydration status.[65] However, excessive water loss to meet cooling requirements will eventually lead to dehydration, even with an increase in body water retention.
  • Salt and Sugar water has been shown to increase water retention and aid in lowering water loss in girls exercising in a hot humid environment.[66] Neither plain water or salt-sugar water prevented mild dehydration under these conditions.
  • High Fat Beverages. Bovine Milk has been shown to hydrate better than water and other beverages in a small study on 11 participants that broke a sweat while exercising.[67] Milk has a higher fat and protein content compared to water, as well as an abundance of minerals conducive to hydration. The fat and protein content of milk is likely to promote water retention, while the minerals may aid the regulation of body fluid dynamics.
  • Protein Heavy Beverages. High protein intake can cause the kidneys to take a mild strain[68] that may promote dehydration[69]. Nonetheless studies show that the body adapts to a higher protein intake without compromising hydration status. This has been confirmed in small preliminary studies, in which exercising individuals hydrated optimally using protein-enhanced beverages.[70]
  • High Sugar Beverages. Long-term studies have shown that sales and human consumption of processed beverages have increased over the last few decades, particularly with regard to sugar sweetened beverages. Not surprisingly, drinks high in fructose and glucose are known to increase the risk for becoming dehydrated.[71] The risk may be mitigated with sufficient water intake. In a small group of young men, hydration was unaffected by combinations of soda and/or fruit juice when consumed alongside water over 24hours.[72]

Herbal Beverages

Unsweetened beverages containing phytochemical nutrients are not likely to affect hydration status differently to plain water. However, some nutrients are known to alter body water dynamics:

  • Antidiuretic use promotes increased water absorption and facilitates rehydration in dehydrated individuals. Prolonged use of strong diuretics may cause dehydration[73] alongside sodium or potassium deficiencies.[74]
  • Caffeine increases blood pressure, boosts mood[75] and has diuretic properties. It may partially protect against unwanted side effects of dehydration due to its antioxidant potential.
  • Tea tannins may increase core body temperature and promote vasodilation. This can increase water loss under hot environmental conditions or during physical activity.

Water from Solids

It is estimated that 20-30% of our water intake is derived from foods.[76] The amount of water present inside food varies. According to the USDA nutrient database[77]:

  • Most fruits, vegetables and dairy contain a relatively high water content ranging from 70-99%.
  • Animal meats, legumes, and hard cheeses are estimated to comprise of between 20-70% water.
  • Dried fruits, fats, refined sugars and highly processed foods contain as little as 0-20% water.

A diet high in foods that mostly consist of water is generally associated with good health and well-being. These foods are typically nutritious fruits and vegetables. Those who consume a healthy diet or who exercise a minimum of 3 times a week appear to have healthier hydration habits.[78]

On the other hand, a diet abundant in low-water foods is often associated with adverse health effects, including fat, sugar, wheat, cereal grains, animal products and refined “junk” foods.

Food Preservation. Dehydration is used for preservation of organic materials in agriculture, food processing and medicine manufacture.[79] Therefore there may be less water present in foods that have been dehydrated. Dehydrated cells are easily prone to damage when exposed to oxygen, which is able to lower their nutritional value. However, it may increase the content of unaffected nutrients, such as minerals.

Other Considerations

Hydration can be affected by a few other factors, which include:

  • Water Quality. Hard water can reduce the degree of bioactive nutrients in beverages, such as tea or coffee. Lower water pH increases extraction and bioavailability, with the exception of certain low pH metal ions which are capable of fully inhibiting nutrients that bind to them.[80]
  • Temperature. Beverages consumed at or close to room temperature proved to be the best for rehydrating after an intensive workout.[81] However, the difference between beverages of different temperatures is marginal.
  • Frequency. One study highlights that ingesting smaller quantities of fluid over a longer period of time improves its retention in the body by comparison to ingesting the full amount in one shot.[82]
  • Dehydrated Absorbent Foods. Absorbent low-water foods, such as wheat and other cereal grains, typically draw water out of the body during digestion. This causes them to expand and may promote dehydration, indigestion, and bloating post consumption.

Conclusion

Water is one of the most vital nutrients for life on the planet. Without water, we would perish within a matter of days. Our cells require water to function and therefore it is important to remain adequately hydrated. Dehydration can promote the risk for both inflammation and numerous diseases. The risk for becoming dehydrated is increased in those who do not hydrate enough, who have electrolyte imbalances, the elderly, women, those living a sedentary lifestyle and those with pre-existing diseases.

In order to improve hydration, it’s important to opt for water from a clean source that is not devoid of minerals. Calcium and magnesium are important minerals that should be present in healthy drinking water. Water intake from other kinds of beverages impacts their ability to hydrate, with sugar-sweetened beverages being less dehydrated than other types of non-water beverages. Physical activity, drinking fluids at room temperature and drinking small amounts consistently throughout the day can improve hydration substantially.

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