On this edition of the blog it's time to look at the implications of not drinking enough water on a daily basis. The '8 glasses per day' theory is so well-known that it's become a cliche, never mind the raft of contradicting information out there about just exactly how much water you need to be drinking (which by the way, is at least 2 litres a day!). As part of our commitment to make healthier drinking water more accessible for everyone, we are equally keen to make sure you know about the consequences of not drinking enough. You'd be amazed how many little irritations you experience in your day-to-day life can be linked to lack of hydration. Here are 5 of the most common ramifications of not drinking enough water:
1. Decrease in Physical Performance
That's right, if you're an athlete of any sort - amateur or professional - not drinking enough water can have a severe impact on your physical performance. Multiple scientific studies have found links between decreased physical performance and dehydration.
The average male body contains 60% water while the average female body is made up of around 50% water. For athletes, this proportion can often increase by up to 10%. Depending on your level of perspiration and pre-exercise hydration levels, it can be difficult to maintain the levels required for peak performance.
A Hydration and Physical Performance study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2007 found that losing even 2% of your body's water content can 'significantly impair physical performance'.
2. Reduction of Cognitive Brain Function
Often referred to as 'dry brain', even slight levels of dehydration can cause dips in mental focus and cognitive function. A 2015 Loughborough University study testing the driving ability of dehydrated volunteers showed that the drivers committed a significantly greater number of lane drifting, late-braking and crossing the rumble strip errors than the adequately hydrated group.
Surprisingly, the dehydrated group provided equally as bad results as volunteers who completed similar tests at the legal limit for blood alcohol content.
These findings are an alarming warning of the cognitive dangers associated with dehydration.
3. Lack of Concentration and Mood Changes
Another study from the Journal of Nutrition measured the mood and concentration in young women. One group were provided with adequate water intake to compared with a group given diuretics and exercises to induce dehydration. The study found that at just 1% lower than the optimal hydration level, participants in the dehydrated group reported headaches, lack of focus and increased irritability.
Harris Lieberman, co-author of the study stated: “Dehydration affects all people, and staying properly hydrated is just as important for those who work all day at a computer, as it is for marathon runners". This highlights how susceptible we all are to dips in hydration levels that have knock-on effects throughout the day.
4. Increased Chance of Constipation
It's not glamorous but one of the major causes of chronic constipation is simply lack of adequate hydration. If you are dehydrated, your large intestines take the fluid from the food that you've eaten, causing stools to form in a harder nature making it more difficult to pass through your bowels.
A publication in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a signifiant relationship between liquid deprivation and constipation in elderly people. In children, low fluid intake was not as significant a factor unless there were cases where voluntary intake was substantially lower than normal.
5. Dry Skin
Dehydration can also be a factor in skin dryness. Of course there are varying degrees of dry skin and a range of factors which can contribute towards it, however dietary habits including lack of water and high consumption of alcohol and caffeine are considered to be detrimental to skin health.
A 2007 study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that skin health significantly improved in a group of participants who drank 2.25L of mineral water each day for 4 weeks, having previously drank very little. This shows that the participants' skin health was worse in the period without sustained consumption of water, meaning if you're not drinking enough water you may be putting your skin under unnecessary stress.
Therefore, the next time you're experiencing one of these uncomfortable occurrences and are left scratching your head, don't forget about the power of drinking plenty of water. It may just make your irritations disappear.