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Dehydration; there’s a lot more to it

Water is an essential nutrient that our bodies has always needed and will always need. Without it life cannot be experienced in a healthy way, if at all. People do not realize the importance of water and its effect on the major organs of our body. We give little thought to water, the fluid that preserves our health, maintains our body temperature, prevents headaches, and most importantly, keeps us hydrated daily.Many consider water to be the only appropriate beverage for hydrating while some use other beverages to achieve similar benefits. According to, The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health water is essential for life. Not only is hydration emphasized but so is the awfulness of dehydration that we all are trying to avoid. It is not an easy process to come up with techniques to stay hydrated in this day and age with so many different other beverage options to choose from. Staying hydrated does not mean to chug water for hours each day, it may not mean to limit yourself only to water, however there are many different meanings behind staying hydrated in order to avoid the monstrosity of dehydration.

It is constant that as humans we are being told the importance of drinking water however we really do not know what would happen to our bodies with no water. In the article from the Journal of Athletic Training “Exercise in the Heat. I. Fundamentals of Thermal Physiology, Performance, Implications, and Dehydration” it states that the human body is composed of about 65% water, separated into extracellular and intracellular fluid. From that, if at one point of the day our body does not have 65% water does that result in the awful effects of dehydration? There could be so many different meanings behind the word “dehydration”. Dehydration is a serious health issue that so many people deal with and it comes from our body not having enough water in it. Some of the major aspects of our lives that water intake has an impact on are physical performance, cognitive performance, delirium, gastrointestinal function, kidney function, heart function and hemodynamic response, headaches, skin, and chronic diseases all found from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health article “Water, Hydration and Health.” Also found from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health article was that when one does not have water in their systems humans can survive only for days because water compromises 75% body weight in infants to 55% in elderly and is extremely important for cellular homeostasis. Water intake effects health, energy, weight, and human performance and functioning.

Many individuals wisely drink water to avoid dehydration. But they do so without knowing what happens to a dehydrated body or whether water is the best preventative. Dehydrated bodies don’t necessarily lose consciousness from a lack of water, but the health consequences are serious nonetheless. Inside the bodies of athletes doing strenuous exercise—or even couch potatoes clicking the remote—fluid lack can permit dangerous body temperature changes or disregulate blood flow to vital organs and the brain. There’s no excuse to risk ill-health when drinking, on average, eight 8-ounce glasses of liquid every day can prevent it.

Dehydration has always been thought of as an unpleasant occurrence that individuals experience. When hydration comes to mind it is particular to think of athletes. Athletes are required to take part in hydration tests because of its significance. Dehydration reduces athletic performance and also puts athletes at risk for bad injuries and at times death. According to Robert Oppliger in Sports Medicine the monitoring hydration has significant value in maximizing performance during training and competition We know that drinking water is key for athletes because it affects how they perform and not being hydrated could result in injuries but have we ever wondered what water is doing that causes athletes bodies to crave it so badly. It is a given that athletes sweat during exercise and it is not uncommon for athletes to lose 6–10% of body weight in sweat loss stated from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. (Dehydration can occur before exercise (hypo-hydration) or it can develop during exercise (exercise induced dehydration). Being involved in sports is when we hear most often that it is important to always drink water before and after practice. That is because water is what helps regulate our body temperature, allows our muscles to contract, also our body keeps a normal body temperature by sweating out water which occurs throughout exercise. Meanwhile, body fluid balance is controlled by both physiological and behavioral actions. However, when there is lack of fluid availability, exposure to extreme environments, or illness, inability to maintain fluid balance can seriously jeopardize health and the ability to perform. The terms euhydration, hypohydration, and hyperhydration will be used. According to the Wilderness Medicine Textbook, Euhydration defines a normal, narrow fluctuation in body water content, whereas the terms hypohydration and hyperhydration define, respectively, a general deficit (hypohydration) and surfeit (hyperhydration) in body water content beyond normal.

In contrast to athletes being dehydrated and having injuries as a result of dehydration there is also such thing as overhydrating. Over-hydration normally occurs to those who are involved in exercise that last longer than three hours, that is because the amount of sweat increased causes the athlete to not have enough sodium in their blood stream. However according to Casa from the Journal of Athletic Training, excessive overdrinking should be avoided because it can also compromise physical performance and health. In the past, there have been instances that individuals whose blood sodium falls to a low level and their brain swells, which can result in seizures, coma, and death. Over-hydration is not referred to as often as hydration or dehydration because it is not as common.  As stated in the article, Hemodynamic response to submaximal exercise after dehydration and rehydration in high school wrestlers there was a study was done on high school student athletes who lost weight by restricting fluids because they were required to do so. Cardiac output, heart rate, stoke volume, and oxygen difference were measured in 16 high school wrestlers during exercise at normal weight, after a four or five percent weight loss, and following one hour of rehydration. Weight losses were accomplished over 48 hours by fluid and food restriction as well as intermittent exercise. It was concluded that despite a short rehydration period, the cardiovascular dynamics of these high school wrestlers rapidly returned to normal during moderately heavy work because of the small plasma changes that accompanied the 48-hour weight loss. When individuals are not aware of the proper amount of water to drink it is not efficient to intoxicate the body with water. As found on the SportMedbc website in the article “Hyponatremia or overhydration- who is at risk?,” the amount of water an athlete should drink depends on their volume of sweat and the sodium concentration of their sweat, both of which can vary depending on aerobic fitness, exercise intensity and ambient temperature. The constant concerns regarding athletes being hydrated or dehydrated will never disappear.

However, hydration is still important for everyone else in the world. Overwhelming evidence discusses how important it is to drink water on a regular basis because most times anything other than water has negative side effects.  If we were outside at a three-day festival and did not have enough water in our system, would we would pass out? Would our brain dry out? Would our body shut down? Dehydration has many effects on our body that are not all positive but somehow not all negative. Dehydration: the insides of our bodies change, our brain changes, so many different parts of our body are affected greatly when we are dehydrated. Dehydration can occur at any point in time, it is likely to occur during exercise or strenuous activity but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen on an everyday basis to just any human being. As found on the University of Chicago Press Journal in the article “Physiological and Biochemical Zoology”, Dehydration also causes an increase in the concentration of body fluids, changes in the organ masses, evaporative water loss diminished and causes water reabsorption to increase. Dehydration challenges the water balance and also decreases the water flux. Dehydration will not always affect the body that others can physically see but the insides of the body start to experience difficulty. Bodies are not able to function as well without having enough water in their system. Individuals may feel like they are going to pass out because their blood volume decreases and that causes blood pressure to drop which then leads to not having enough blood and oxygen in the brain which can also force one to experience those feelings.

Even though water is the easiest type of drink to get no matter what and has many positive benefits there are still people who refuse to believe that it is the best fluid to hydrate us at all times. But R.L. Calderon in the Food and Chemical Toxicology warns individuals that there are a number of chemical contaminants identified in drinking water. Some people swear on sports drinks hydrating our bodies faster than water because osmolality is the concentration of dissolved particles in a fluid. Sports drinks contain dissolved minerals (sodium, etc.) and carbohydrates, whereas water doesn’t, so water doesn’t reach the bloodstream as quickly. According to “Which Fluid Hydrates Best: Water or a Sports Drink?,” there was a study done at San Antonio Catholic University in Spain that compared two drinks one having more grams and carbohydrates than the other and the result was that the drink with more carbs and grams hydrate individuals better We could take it as the one drink was similar to water because there was very little grams and carbohydrates present. Sports drinks are likely to be used for one or more of the following: to stimulate rapid fluid absorption, to supply carbohydrate as a substrate for use during exercise, to speed re- hydration, to reduce the physiological stress of exercise, and to promote recovery after exercise. Similar to that study found in the article “The optimal sports drink,” water is not the optimum fluid for ingestion during endurance exercise, and there is compelling evidence that drinks containing added substrate and electrolytes are more effective. Increasing the carbohydrate content of drinks will increase the amount of fuel which can be supplied, but will tend to decrease the rate at which water can be made available Taken from that, water is not the best drink for athletes to drink during their strenuous activity like it always has been thought of, there must be other fluids that they incorporate in order to keep their performance up because if not their body can shut down and not perform to the best of their ability.  The long-lasting idea that anything other than water such as iced tea, coffee, tea, and sodas dehydrate us and to stay away from them. It is not always negative when one does not drink only water, studies show in “Water, Hydration and Health” that if an individual were to pick up a soda or coffee it may be advantageous because it allows water losses to be replaced before thirst-producing dehydration takes place.  This is also supported by published studies in the American Journal of Physiology showing that caffeinated drinks (and, to a lesser extent, mild alcoholic beverages like beer in moderation) may indeed be counted toward the daily total of the 8×8, as well as by the large body of published experiments that attest to the precision and effectiveness of the osmoregulatory system for maintaining water balance With that being said, it shows that maybe 8 ounces of just water are not needed daily in order to keep an individual hydrated and without those 8 ounces a person will not become ill or not have negative side effects. It also brings forth something that not many people know and that is that all of those caffeinated drinks such as iced tea, coffee, and soda can be counted towards the total of how much fluid one consumes daily that contributes to hydration.

Below is findings from the article “Are you Drinking Enough Water” from the Spectrum on different foods that people eat in order to stay hydrated.

  • Cucumbers–96 percent water
  • Radishes–95 percent water
  • Tomatoes—94 percent water
  • Bell peppers–91 percent water
  • Watermelon–91 Percent water
  • Strawberries–90 percent water
  • Cantaloupe–90 percent water
  • Raspberries–85 percent water
  • Apples –80 percent water
  • Grapes–80 percent water

Those are just a few. There are other ways to get hydrated too. Some other options might be:

  • Infused water
  • Coconut water
  • Chicken or vegetable broth or soups
  • Applesauce

Studying this group of foods it is water intake it is just in different form instead of just drinking the liquid from a bottle of cup.

In order to not become dehydrated, one needs to be aware of how to stay hydrated and the process that it takes to have enough water in our system in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to achieving any goal there are always strategies to do so. For example, in order to be hydrated each day people set strategies such as drinking a certain amount of water by this time, the next amount of water 3 hours later and so on so that they can make sure they are hydrated each day and drinking the amount of water that their body requires.It is critical to know that hydration does indeed take time, it will not happen from taking a sip of water every other hour.  At the end of the day being dehydrated is extremely bad for humans. It is unbelievable how many individuals suffer from dehydration. As McArthur stated from the Spectrum, depending on the lifestyle that each individual lives it is important that we must drink at least half of our body weight in ounces of water daily and that is because our bodies are made up of 55-75% water and we do in fact lose water daily by breathing. Some do not enjoy drinking plain old water, it is a suggestion to eat certain foods that we can get water from; the best source is fruits and veggies. This may be news to some but it is another alternative way for those who refuse to drink straight water all of the time to get themselves hydrated.

Staying hydrated is not something that one can force on anyone, it must be something that one forces on themselves. Being dehydrated will not cause death, it does in fact have an impact on something as important as one’s cognitive performance, kidneys, heart function and skin found from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. There is simply no way that anyone can avoid drinking water completely and still live a healthy lifestyle. There may be some days that one does not need to drink as much water as another day and can consume the other beverages such as soda, coffee, or alcoholic beverages but those fluids need to be combined with the consumption of water. Dehydration will always be as bad as it is made out to be because one’s body needs water for proper functioning. Dehydration may affect some worse than it affects others, however it will never be positive. Water has such an important role in one’s health it is essential to the survival of humans.



“Are you drinking enough water?” 2016, Jun 10. The Spectrum.

“Hydration Testing of Athletes” Springerlink. December 2002.

“Hyponatemia or Overhydration- Who is at Risk? “ SportMedbc. 2017.

“Not Good, but Not All Bad: Dehydration Effects on Body Fluids, Organ Masses, and Water Flux through the Skin of Rhinella schneideri (Amphibia, Bufonidae)” . The University of Chicago Press Journals. 3 January 2017.

Popkin B. M., D’Anci, K. E., Rosenberg I. H. (2010.) “Water, Hydration and Health.”US National Library of Medicine National Insititutes of Health. 68(8), 439-458.

Dehydration and Rehydration. Book Chapter- Wilderness Medicine Textbook. 2012. Retrieved from

Exercise in the Heat. I. Fundamentals of Thermal Physiology, Performance Implication, and Dehydration. Journal of Athletic Training. (1999.) Retrieved from

Hemodynamic response to submaximal exercise after dehydration and rehydration in high school wrestlers. 1 Jan 1977. Retrieved from

Shirreffs SM. The optimal sports drink. Schweizerische zeitschrift fur sportmedizin und sporttraumatologie. 2003;51(1):25–30. Google Scholar

Valtin H. “Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.” Really? Is there scientific evidence for “8× 8”? Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2002;283(5):R993–1004.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Calderon  R.L., (2000). “The epidemiology of chemical contaminants of drinking water”.Food and Chemical Toxicology. 38(1), S13-20.

Fitzgerald M. (2018) “Which Fluid Hydrates Us Better: Water or a Sports Drink?”

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