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.

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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
  • Fatigue.
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Headaches.
  • Dizziness.
  • Blue lips.
  • Less frequent or decreased urination.
  • Confusion.
  • 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.
  • Irritability.
  • Lethargy
  • Fever.

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,

Marc Kent

Author: Commando Fitness Blueprint