Hydrate or Die, part 1
Everyone knows that water is good for us but I don’t think people truly understand how essential water is for our health. Most people don’t know or realise what happens to our body if we don’t take in enough water on a daily basis.
Long-term dehydration can lead to a whole host of problems ranging from:
? Low back pain
? Neck pain
? High blood pressure
? High cholesterol
? Weight gain
Over the coming weeks I’m going to shed some light on why water is so important to life and why increasing your daily intake will go a long way to a fitter, healthier lifestyle as well as preventing and in some cases “curing” some of the aliments and diseases listed above.
My goal at the end of this series of articles is to highlight the link between chronic dehydration and disease emergence and provide you with enough information to make changes to your nutrition and hydration plan to help prevent many of the “dehydration diseases” so common today, and if a totally irreversible problem hasn’t developed, this information can cure them!
Water, The Basics
Scientists believe that all life came from water and that includes the evolution of the human species. These primitive life forms depended on water for everything. As early life forms started to venture away from water and onto land, water was still a vital part of their survival and therefore they didn’t wander too far. Over time life started to venture further on land and developed an intricate and complex water rationing system to allow long periods of survival away from water.
And this holds true for the primitive mammals that eventually evolved into modern man. Now despite this evolution, fresh clean water is still essential to our survival and to go just 24 hours without water will have a serious impact on your health. In fact we cannot survive more than a couple of days without a constant top up of fresh clean H2O.
During evolution primitive man didn’t always have access to clean water on a daily basis like we do now and so the body developed a complex water management system to ensure our survival.
Since every system in the human body is reliant on a constant level of optimal hydration in times of shortage the body would ration water to protect the vital organs, and this system is quite savage in nature. The bodies main priority in any water shortage is protection of the brain. The brain is only 1/50th of the bodies total weight but receives 18-20% of the bodies blood supply and so the body will pull water away from other areas to ensure the brain gets an adequate supply of blood and water.
One of the biggest downfalls of modern society is thinking that drinking tea, coffee, colas, alcohol and any other manufactured drinks is a suitable substitute for fresh clean water. The body needs fresh clean water to function and to not provide it on a regular basis can cause the body to become stressed and if left unchecked for prolonged periods of time can lead to a catastrophic failure of bodily systems resulting in disease and death!
It’s true these drinks are “dissolved” in water but they contain things that actually rid the body of its vital water supply as well as vital vitamins and minerals. And due to either caffeine or the added chemicals to make these beverages taste nice people are developing a preference for these drinks rather than drinking “boring” water. Even young children are brought up on sugar-loaded drinks instead of water. Is it any wonder that more and more children are overweight and developing adult diseases such as adult on-set diabetes and obesity?
With the food industry getting ever more influential by spending billions to brain wash us in to thinking low fat, calorie free, fat free, foods are good for us. If it’s not the marketing machine that’s sucking us in to their lies it’s the sneaky tricks of adding heaps of sugar or MSG disguised in it’s many pseudonyms. We are becoming addicted to this junk because we are never quenching our bodies basic needs and that is to provide it with plain fresh water daily, instead we choose not to drink water because we think the body can get the fluids from all the processed commercial junk out there.
To compound issues, many medical practitioners are unaware of just how important water is to the many chemical reactions that happen every minute of every hour of the day. Chronic dehydration will lead to the loss of function of many of the body systems. This is a basic mistake and one that has prevented modern medicine from moving forwards. Instead doctors are lead by the multi billion dollar pharmaceutical to prescribe drugs that merely mask the symptoms of disease. They do not cure disease. Again, if we look to the start of this article many of these diseases are caused by chronic dehydration and poor nutrition doctors are failing to check patients nutritional and hydration habits before they prescribe drugs. Adding chemicals to an already stressed body is only going to compound the issue until the patient is taking more than one type of medication which brings on more problems. Eventually the patient dies of a “labelled” disease which could have been prevented if the route cause of the problem was sought.
There needs to be a complete U-turn and paradigm shift with modern medicine, doctors and scientists should spend more money on preventing disease happening in the first place and this starts with the most basic of education. Correct nutrition following the EAT Smart principles and an optimal hydration plan should be filtered down to everyone. Parents especially need to be informed of the dangers of poor hydration for their children. It form a part of the education of these school children. Painting a proper picture of the dangers of poor hydration should help.
In closing this article I recommend that you increase your daily water intake to one litre for every 50lb of body weight to start and to remove all other beverages.
Hydrate or Die, part 2
If you remember back to Hydrate or Die part one I mentioned that dehydration caused a whole host of ailments from:
? Low back pain
? Neck pain
? High blood pressure
? High cholesterol
? Weight gain
Today I wanted to concentrate on why dehydration causes pain and what you should do to help eliminate it.
Pain that cannot be determined as coming from injury or an infection should be considered a cry for water from your body. The sensation of pain comes from local changes around the nerves that are responsible for monitoring the acid/alkaline balance in the body. This mechanism is designed to safeguard the body against the build up excess acid from movement & metabolic processes that could eat into and burn the cells of the body and cause damage.
When you don’t drink enough water the body is unable to wash away the excess acid. When this happens the nerves send signals to the brain to inform of the increase in the acid levels.
Up to a certain point the body deals with this without you knowing but beyond a certain threshold your body will break this silence and make the conscious mind aware of the situation. If you then fail to increase your water intake the body will keep increasing the intensity of pain until movement and mobility of the effected area this happens to prevent an additional build up of acid and toxins caused by movement.
Because we have become so disassociated from our bodies most people fail to recognise this pain for what it is – a sophisticated, localised thirst signal and a cry for water and instead resort to popping pills made from toxic chemicals, which merely mask the damage that is being done. Drinking plenty of water will usually eliminate the condition but when the problem is left unchecked for an extended period of time and the pain becomes more and more intense doctors usually resort to prescribing drugs or putting someone under the knife for a condition which could have been resolved by eliminating toxic foods and drinking a lot more water.
The pains associated with dehydration are many and include dyspeptic pain which can range from simple heart burn to gastro-oesophageal reflux, nausea and vomiting. Most people take antacids for these when water is the missing ingredient!
Other pains associated with dehydration are rheumatoid arthritis pain, angina pain, low back pain, leg pain on walking, migraine and hangover headaches, colitis pain and false appendicitis pain!
As you can see, there are lots of common “pain” signals that are the bodies subtle way of telling you it is thirsty. But instead of listening to what our bodies are telling us most people pop down the antacids, antihistamines or other pain killing medications.
If we were to take a more proactive approach to our health and fitness these painful conditions could be alleviated or even eliminated altogether. For the above mentioned symptoms try increasing your water intake for two days to at least 2.5 litres per day before you resort to taking analgesics or other pain killing medications. If these symptoms are not “treated” with an optimal level of hydration they could cause permanent damage to the body and can eventually become an irreversible disease and these diseases can spiral all the way to obesity, diabetes and cancer!
And according to the Columbia University School of Public Health, 95% of cancer is caused by poor nutrition and bad environment.
Just think, we can prevent one of the biggest killers by changing our approach to nutrition and EATing Smart, eliminating as many man made chemicals from our lives and making fresh water the centre point in which everything else revolves around.
I’ll be back in a few more days with part 3 of “Hydrate or Die” where I’ll be talking about low back and neck pain.
Until then, keep drinking at least 1 litre of water per 50lb of bodyweight.
Hydrate or Die, part 3
As you may recall from my last two articles in the “Hydrate or Die” series that natural water is the corner stone of a healthy life and that dehydration can have severe and devastating effects to the human body.
From low back and neck pain, angina, headaches, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, asthma, allergies and diabetes.
And not forgetting that 95% of cancers are caused by poor nutrition, and as nutrition begins with water keeping your body properly hydrated will go a long way to you living a fit, healthy, long disease free life.
Now with water playing such a big part of “life” without it we will simply die, it makes sense that a lack of it can cause us trouble. In Hydrate or Die part two, I spoke about how pain was a signal of localised dehydration.
With this in mind, a lack of water and a state of dehydration can lead to low back pain.
This is because the spinal joints, the intervertebral joints and their disc structures, are reliant on water for theirdifferent“hydraulic” properties of the water stored in the discs core.
Water not only acts as a lubricant for the contact surfaces of the spine but also acts to support the compression weight of the upper body through the water store in the intervertebral discs.
In fact 75% of the upper body’s weight is supported by the water stored in the discs core. The other 25% is supported by the fibrous materials around the disc. Water acts as a lubricating agent as well as is “shock absorber” which bears the force produced by weight on the joint or the tension produced by the muscles acting on the joint.
As adequate hydration is needed to keep the intervertebral discs at their “optimum hight” a lack of water in these discs is going to lead to low back pain as the disc themselves become dehydrated. When this happens the discs wont be able to support the bodies weight as efficiently but not only that, because the bones of the spine are now closer together you are much more likely to suffer from wear and tear to the bones and degenerative bone diseases. Being overweight will make matters worse!
So, before you start popping pills to get rid of your back pain, try increasing your water intake first. If you’re are the 1 litre per 50lb of bodyweight then and still suffering, the next step would be to get a Kinetic Chain Specialist to assess your posture for contributing factors that may be pulling your body out of alignment. The Kinetic Chain Specialist can then design a corrective exercise and nutrition strategy that can help alleviate the problem.
Correcting bad posture will not only help alleviate your back pain but it will also help prevent neck pain. As all Kinetic Chain Specialists know, the body is only as strong as it’s weakest link a weak area in one part of the body will also cause problems elsewhere. So if you are suffering from low back pain, through something known as the “Lovett Brother Relationship” which describes the skeletal reciprocity between paired bones of the cranium, pelvis and spine. This happens because the body is trying to keep a balanced vertical position against gravity. To do this bones at opposite ends of the spine will move in equal and opposite directions to maintain a centre of gravity.
This basically means that if your sacrum is out of alignment then the occiput bone at the base of the scull will be out of alignment.
If L5 is out of kilta then C5 will move in an equal but opposite direction. This is going to lead to pain, with pain comes a down regulation of the muscles through involved through a process called arthrokinetic inhibition. When this happens you will start to develop pain in other joints as you develop faulty movement patterns caused.
Back pain is one of the biggest problems in the Western World and most of it can be eliminated through correct hydration and a corrective exercise, nutrition, and stretching program.
You can also keep your back pain away by paying attention to your posture. Think the typical “Royal Marines” posture: chest out, shoulders pulled back and down. Also setting your workstation up to your individual height will help as well.
So next time your back starts giving you gyp and before you reach for the pain killers make sure you hydration levels are up to where they should be and you may find, all other things being equal your back pain goes away.
Hydrate or Die, part 4
In part the of Hydrate or Die I spoke to you about the role of water in joints relating to the spine and how dehydration can lead to back and neck pain. And this dehydration can lead to degeneration of the spine due to the decreased height of the intervertebral discs. This is going to lead to yet more pain!
Today I would like to talk about how a lack of water can lead to migraine headaches.
Migraine headaches can be brought about by dehydration caused by the following situations: excess bedding that will prevent the body from properly maintaining its temperature while you’re sleeping, alcoholic beverages which will initiate cellular dehydration as well as interfere with your bodies hormones leading to fat gain. Migraines can also be brought on by dietary and allergic triggers, which will increase histamine production.
According to Dr Batmanghelidj in his brilliant book “Your Body’s Many Cries For Water” a migraine seems to be an indicator of critical body temperature regulation at times of “heat stress.” Dehydration plays a major role in the onset of migraine headaches.
Prevention is always better than cure! Therefore preventing yourself from becoming dehydrated will ‘cure’ your migraine headaches.
So to prevent migraines caused by dehydration we then need to recognise when the body is likely to become dehydrated as well as recognise the signs of dehydration.
Under normal circumstances there are many factors affecting the bodies need for water including respiration, perspiration and digestion including the bodies ‘residual’ hydration levels in the first place.
Our bodies’ need for water will increase under circumstances such as:
• An increase in climate temperature.
• Living at higher altitudes.
• During physical activity.
• Illness such as vomiting and diarrhoea.
• If you have a cold or flu.
• If you have any chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, alcoholism, cystic fibrosis or any adrenal disorder
• If you are taking medications.
• If you are drinking beverages containing caffeine or alcohol.
• Time spent in air conditioned buildings and long flights.
So it makes sense to increase your water intake during the above circumstances.
For instance if you’re on a long flight you should drink water during the flight and stay away from caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. You should also get up to stretch and walk about the cabin (if possible) to prevent blood pooling in the legs and to prevent blood clots from forming.
Also if you recognise any of the following symptoms you may be dehydrated:
• Excessive thirst.
• Dry mouth & lips
• Low blood pressure
• Muscle weakness.
• Blue lips.
• Less frequent or decreased urination.
• Increased heart rate.
• Increased respiration.
• Sunken, dry eyes.
• Painful Kidneys.
• Dry skin
• Skin that doesn’t snap back when pinched and released.
Children can also show further signs, such as:
• An absence of tears when crying.
If any of the above signs and symptoms of dehydration go unchecked long enough a cascade of reactions begin to happen in the body altering the chemical make up inside us all, leading to a whole host of preventable illnesses and diseases.
For instance losing as little as 1%-2% of your body weight in water is the beginning of dehydration and you may not even feel any symptoms.
Losing 3%-5% can seriously affect your concentration, reaction times and judgement. Driving while 3-5% dehydrated has the same effects as driving while under the influence of alcohol. So if you are going on a long journey, be sure to drink plenty of water and take frequent stops to stretch and get some fresh air.
Losing 9%-15% of your body’s water weight is severe dehydration and is life threatening.
One of the simplest way to check if your dehydrated or not is by checking your urine when your go to the toilet. Dark coloured urine signals a dehydrated state. Ideally your urine should be light straw coloured or clear.
If you have dark urine then you should start to increase your water intake to 1 litre per 50lb of bodyweight. You should also be aware that when you are dehydrated you should avoid all fluids containing caffeine and alcohol.
You should also drink more water after you exercise to replace all the fluids you lose through sweat. In effect the water you drink during exercise doesn’t count towards your daily fluid intake.
Which reminds me, time for a glass of fresh water,
Hydrate or Die, part 5
In part 5 of Hydrate or Die I’m going to talk about stress and depression, but cheer up it’s not all bad
Depression is said to exist when the brain finds it difficult to cope with a stressful emotional state as well as cope with other attention-demanding activities at the same time.
This situation can become so all-consuming that the person becomes incapacitated by it, and in the long run such a stressful drain on the brain can lead to different physical and mental manifestations which are labelled by doctors according to that individuals outward behaviour patterns.
Some form of ‘depression’ is said to be a natural phenomenon and plays a vital part in developing a persons character and in coping with these different feelings of negativity helps to develop our ‘inner metal.’
Depression is almost always a passing feeling if love, care and empathy are available to push the individual towards a resolution of the negative thoughts.
It’s unfortunate, but not all individuals can cope with these inner feelings of negativity and are often prescribed medications to help them cope with the depression.
These chemicals can be quite dangerous and lead to other issues further along the road. Depression as such isn’t a deficiency of Prozac but rather a state that can dome about through dehydration.
When you understand the pathology that is associated with ‘social-stresses’ such as fear, anxiety, insecurity and persistent emotional problems. The resulting onset of depression can be traced back dehydration and a water deficiency in the brain.
I’ll explain: The brain uses water to produce hydro-electricity to provide energy for all the functions of the brain. With a deficiency of an adequate water supply the level of energy produced by the water drive of these hydro-electric pumps is decreased and many of the brains functions that are dependant on this go down.
This inadequacy of brain function is recognised as depression and this depressive state caused by dehydration can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome. If we return the body back to optimal levels of hydration then the brain will be able to function more efficiently therefore improving the symptoms of chronic fatigue considerably.
When the body becomes dehydrated the physiological responses that occur are the same as what happen when coping with stressful situations.
Therefore dehydration causes stress and stress causes further dehydration!
When you have an argument with your spouse, a disagreement at work or through ‘things not going your way’ you can feel stressed. These are ‘stresses’ that you recognise. But the body can also become stressed for other reasons.
Imagine your body as the most stressful person you know, the slightest little thing tips them over the edge. Your body is like the person.
So when you don’t drink water, your body becomes stressed.
When you have poor nutritional habits, your body becomes stressed.
When you don’t sleep properly, your body becomes stressed.
When you drink alcohol, your body becomes stressed.
All these stresses add up and your body reacts in the same way by assuming a crisis situation and goes into a ‘fight or flight’ stance.
When this survival mechanism kicks in the body dumps a ton of hormones into the blood stream to ready the body to fight or run for its life.
One of the hormones released is cortisol. Cortisol is know as the ‘stress’ hormone.
Cortisol along with cortisone are responsible for the ‘remobilisation’ of energy stores in a crisis situation as well as suppressing the immune system, thus reducing inflammation and pain at sites of injury.
During evolution this ‘stress response’ secured the survival of the human race but it would seen that the body doesn’t recognise the new social situation that modern man now lives in, at least on a biological level.
Normally the ‘fight or flight’ response would be a short term response to the perceived emergency situation and the body would return to normal once the danger had passed. But if the body remains stressed through dehydration, poor nutrition, alcohol, smoking, lack of sleep etc. then cortisone and cortisol levels will remain elevated and the body will continue to feed off itself breaking down muscles tissue and damaging bone.
So by removing the ‘stress’ will help the body to return back to it’s ‘normal’ operating mode and in effect help to relieve depression.
Start by cleaning up your diet by removing all nutritional stresses and increasing your water intake. Once the body is back in balance you will notice you are more able to cope with stress and will be less likely to develop depression and chronic fatigue.
By Marc Kent
Author: Commando Fitness Blueprint
Marc Kent Health & Fitness Barnstaple