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Don't Let Your Brain Shrink! The Serious Risks of Not Drinking Enough Water Every Day
Here's everything you need to know about daily water consumption.
First thing in the morning, I used to always remind my kids to drink a full glass of water before they start the day. Now, after reminding them thousands of times, they do it without me hounding them! After I drink my own water I do my "fire" drink. It's a glass of water mixed with 1-2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 3-4,000 of vitamin C, 1 teaspoon of curcumin, dash of cinnamon, and a dash of cayenne pepper. I have not had my kids drink this, but they do drink my fresh ginger juice or my fruits-and-greens smoothies. (Photo Credit: Dr. Corinne Weaver)
Can drinking enough water daily really help me with my health issues?
Just like I do with my kids, I tell every patient I see to DRINK WATER!! Almost every time I do a blood or urine analysis, I can tell the patient is dehydrated. Staying hydrated is key.
At few key statistics related to water intake and composition are important to note: the human body contains roughly 11 gallons of water broken down into these fractional parts: blood is 85% water, muscle is 80% water, brain is 75% water and bones are 25% water. With the value and percentage of water making up nearly 66% of the human body it plays a tremendously important role in normal physiological functions.
This is largely why dehydration, when present, can lead to a number of critical problems including: migraines, constipation and even kidney stones.1 Lack of water in the body can also take a toll on the health of your BRAIN, affecting mood and overall cognitive and emotional function. When dehydrated, a person may be more prone to feelings of fatigue, anxiety and irritability.
Did you know that dehydration can shrink your brain?
About three-quarters of your brain is water and when the body is dehydrated your brain volume actually decreases. It is this shrinking process to which medical researchers attribute dehydration headaches. Mild or temporary dehydration can alter the brains function and impact mood as shown in a 2013 British Medical Journal study2 in which 20 healthy women in their mid-20s were deprived fluids for 24 hours. While no clinical pathology was observed in the biological parameters such as urine, blood and saliva, thirst and heart rate did increase and urine output was drastically reduced. As expected, the urine also becomes darker in color.
The authors of the study noted this, about mood effects in their subjects:
"The significant effects of (fluid deprivation) on mood included decreased alertness and increased sleepiness, fatigue and confusion. The most consistent effects of mild dehydration on mood are on sleep/wake parameters …"2
The good news here is that within 20 minutes of drinking some water, effects such as those detailed above are reversed. Dehydration-induced headaches are also rapidly alleviated once you rehydrate. Interestingly, cold water absorbs 20% faster than room temperature water, so to increase the speed of recuperation it would seem prudent to have chilled water for this recovery process.
A study from Harvard University found more than half of American children are dehydrated, which can have serious consequences for their health and academic performance 3, 4, 5. About a quarter of kids in the U.S. don't drink enough water, daily. Boys were 75% more likely to be low in hydration status as compared to girls. This apparent link shows that boys tended to select more sugary beverages than girls did 6.
Your whole body suffers when you're dehydrated.
Dehydration is typically rated as mild, moderate or severe depending upon percentage of water loss the body experiences. There are quite a number of blood markers contained within our normal testing that can highlight this for you and your doctor. These include but are not limited to: RBC value variations (MCH, MCHC), electrolyte imbalances (Sodium, Potassium, etc.) and even changes in kidney panel values (BUN, Creatinine, etc.).
Other ways to evaluate your body for dehydration include:
- Urinary frequency – most people urinate between 4-7 times per day, depending on bladder size and amount of urine for release. If you urinate less than 4 times or not at all then you need to drink more water.
- Urine color - this is one of the easiest ways to determine your hydration status. The color of the urine is determined by concentration of waste in the fluid. The more water you have in your body for your kidneys to mix with waste products, the lighter in color your urine will be. You should be drinking enough water for your urine to be a light yellow color. Darker colors can mean that the kidneys are being forced to work too hard. While not a common finding among sedentary citizens, over-hydration can become a problem especially in endurance athletes if they consume way too much water. This situation can also create additional stress on the kidneys and other fluid regulatory pathways in their system.
- Odor – urine should be nearly odorless. The scent of the urine will be dependent on a few factors including hydration status, foods eaten in the past 24 hours and whether or not an infection is present. The more concentrated the urine is the stronger your urine will smell of ammonia.
An important note here is that medications and UTIs (urinary tract infections) can also change the color and odor of the urine. If you have an infection, urine may appear cloudy and/or tinged with blood. An abnormally sweet odor from your urine may indicate that you have a high level of glucose in your urine from an uncontrolled diabetic state. Other conditions that affect urine's odor can include liver and gall bladder disorders. Therefore, having an in-office dipstick urine test done annually is suggested for anyone interested in maintaining a watchful eye on their health.
How much daily water consumption is recommended?
There are various ways to calculate this daily intake to the ounce. One that we use is this, drink 1 quart of clean, filtered (reverse osmosis) water for every 50 pounds of body weight per day. Do not exceed 3 quarts a day, regardless of body weight. Athletes and those working outside during summer temperatures may require more daily water to satisfy urine color requirements. Start measuring how much water you take in daily and see how much you are actually getting in.
What filtration is best for drinking water?
I recommend www.drweaverswater.com. We have been using this system for the past 5 years and love it. I believe investing in a good water filtration system is very important, probably the most important when it comes to your health. This water system can help you to alkalize easily and efficiently. It provides your body with alkalizing minerals and will help it to better control over-acidity. The common American diet, regular and ongoing stress, and environmental pollutants can create over acidity in the body leading to acidosis. Drinking alkaline water is the easiest way to help your body to maintain its essential state of alkalinity.
Taking one step at a time with your health is critical.
If you are drinking sodas start by eliminating one soda to one glass of water a day. I have found amazing results when people just start to drink more water. Sounds simple but I have found it's the little things that can count the most!!
Staying on top of dehydration can prevent brain imbalances and even the need for hospitalization. Getting your blood and urine analyzed on an annual or semi-annual basis can also allow you to stave off major health problems before they start. Contact us if you'd like to learn more about what our testing can do for you.
I hope my column speaks to you and you can wake up each morning with a purpose. What I do every day is a calling, and I give God the glory for allowing His gifts to work through me. I do believe in miracles, because I get to see them every day! If you would like to contact me with your health concerns email me directly at Dr@drcorinneweaver.com. For more information you can go to www.DrCorinneWeaver.com or sign up for my closed Facebook group #NoMoreMeds-Community for more healthy tips https://m.facebook.com/groups/1845828392308723 .
Dr. Corinne Weaver
Dr. Corinne Weaver is a compassionate upper cervical chiropractor, educator, motivational speaker, mother of three, and internationally bestselling author. In 2004, she founded the Upper Cervical Wellness Center in Indian Trail, North Carolina. Over the last 13 years, she has helped thousands of clients restore their brain to-body function. When she was 10 years old, she lost her own health as the result of a bike accident that led to having asthma and allergy issues that she thought she would always have to endure. Then, after her first upper cervical adjustment at age 21, her health began to improve thanks to upper cervical care and natural herbal remedies. This enabled her to create a drug-free wellness lifestyle for herself and her family, and she also enthusiastically discovered her calling to help children heal naturally.
Dr. Weaver was recently named one of Charlotte Magazine's "Top Doctors" in 2016 and is now a number-one internationally bestselling author to two books: Learning How to Breathe and No More Meds.
Upper Cervical Wellness Center is known for finding the root cause of health concerns through lifestyle changes, diagnostic testing, nutraceutical supplementation, and correction of subluxation (as opposed to just medicating the symptoms). The practice offers cutting-edge technological care at its state-of-the-art facility, including laser-aligned upper cervical X-rays, bioimpedance analysis (measures body composition), digital thermography (locates thermal abnormalities characterized by skin inflammation), and complete nutritional blood analysis, which is focused on disease prevention.
- Medical News Today May 19, 2017
- British Journal of Nutrition 2013 Jan 28;109(2):313-21
- American Journal of Public Health June 11, 2015 doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302572
- Epoch Times June 16, 2015
- CNN June 15, 2015
- Washington Post August 31, 2011