Water (H20) is one of the most vital nutrients in the body. In fact, without it, the body wouldn’t survive beyond a couple of days. Cells, in particular, need enough water to function fully and optimally. Dehydration can have a whole array of impacts on the body - including on our skin, our brain, our kidneys and a number of other organs.
One of the problems today, however, is that we don’t think of dehydration as a significant health challenge and with how busy so many of our lives are, we often grab for a drink on-the-go, rather than truly understanding how best to hydrate our bodies from a cellular level (more to come on this).
These hydration challenges are only made worse by the available options for many ‘grab and go’ drinks. If you’re not grabbing for a bottle of water, it is likely that in a world of shiny and misleading brand and advertising, you might be picking a drink claiming to be ‘hydrating’ and ‘thirst-quenching’ but that actually is loaded with real high sugar content, artificial sweeteners, colourings and flavorings. Even the healthy juices. Don’t believe us? Flip the bottle around and have a look at the sugar content and the ingredients list.
Similarly, drinking from the tap comes with its own challenges so for those invested in their health and wellbeing, it can often be a catch-22 in terms of knowing where to get the right water supply from.
Ok, we all know dehydration is not good - but is it really that bad?
Yes! Dehydration is actually a major deficiency and many people are not consuming adequate amounts of water to actually support proper hydration and overall health of them, their skin, their brain, their organs and so much more.
The symptoms around cellular dehydration are lengthy and can include:
- Brain fog / issues with concentration
- Body joint aches and pains
- Fatigue / lethargy
- Anxiety / depression / ADHD
- Dry Skin
- Excess Cellulite
As well as:
- Increased onset of joint degenerative disorders
- Impaired detoxification and the body’s ability to detox
- Slower recovery from exercise and injury; and
- Increased heart rate.
But it goes further than that. It also impacts the skin, the brain, the organs and so much more.
Dehydration & the skin - I’m interested. Let’s go
Skin health is a true passion of ours at Agent, so we were fascinated to learn that there is a difference between ‘dehydrated skin’ and ‘dry skin’. Dry skin is a skin type - often lacking oils or lipids within the skin - whereas with dehydrated skin, there is an actual lack of water in the top layer of the skin.
Unlike dry or flakey skin, dehydration often shows up on the skin not only as ‘dry skin’ but also as sunken eyes, skin dullness, darker under-eye circles than normal, as well as increased wrinkling. It’s great to understand these characteristics so you can identify what might be going on with your skin. We definitely notice dehydrated skin after long days in the sun or after intensive travel and/or contact with AC units and then are able to take action in terms of rectifying the problem.
One of our favorite tests is that you can perform an at-home test to quickly help determine if your skin is dehydrated. Simply take a small portion of skin between your fingers and gently squeeze it. The skin should quickly bounce back to normal instantly. If it does not, or if it begins to wrinkle as it returns to normal, your skin may be dehydrated.
Remember - unlike dry skin, dehydrated skin cannot be treated with topical creams. When you maintain proper hydration levels in your body, your skin will stay hydrated as well.
Dehydration won’t just impact the way that your beautiful face will age - it may also impact your organs
Dehydration is much more than a skin deep issue. In fact, dehydration can really impact every organ in your body. The reason for this? As dehydration progresses, the volume of fluid in the body as a whole decreases, and blood pressure may fall. As the pressure in the body falls, this can decrease blood flow to vital organs including the kidneys - making it harder for them to do their job. More generally as well, like any organ with a decreased blood flow; it has the potential to fail to do its job and so dehydration can have a body wide negative impact on your organ health.
We are also fascinated by the connection between dehydration and depression. The brain requires 85% water to function optimally - more than any other organ in the whole body - and that means that water deficiency in the brain can have a BIG impact.
What this means in practice is that your brain is strongly influenced by your hydration status. The brain has been shown to immediately cut down its energy supply when dehydrated - increasing fatigue, lethargy and depression and research studies show that even mild dehydration, such as fluid loss of 1.4% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration.
Wow, ok. So do I need to drink more water? Especially after exercising?
Yes - and no. There is much more to hydration than water consumption. Mounting evidence is starting to show that effective water consumption is not just about how much water you drink but, instead, is about effectively delivering water and electrolytes at the cellular level through cellular hydration.
Ok. So hydration and cellular hydration, what’s the difference?
Taking it back to basics - hydration is the process of when something absorbs water. I.e. replenishing the water in our bodies through drinking liquids, eating high-water content foods or even getting ourselves hooked up to an IV-drip.
Cellular hydration is different, however.
So what is cellular hydration?
To understand cellular hydration, we need to understand the importance of mitochondria in this process, and the body more generally. Mitochondria are the “energy powerhouse” of the body - and mitochondria are widespread - found in almost every human cell. They make ATP which is the basic unit of energy that our cells, and the human body, need to run properly.
This set of cellular functions relies on how well our cells send electrical charges across the membranes of each cell. When our body (and thus our cells) are dehydrated, the membranes of our millions of cells become loose and this means that the electrical charge will struggle to pass on the electrical function. On the flip side, however, when our cells are well hydrated, the membranes stay well-organised, tight and working properly which means that they are more effective at doing their job and passing the electrical charge onwards.
I get it, but what’s really the importance here?
As well as the optimal level of balance between these electrical charges, to function optimally, our body needs and wants there to be a balance between water and mineral levels too - both inside and outside of the cell.
Let’s chat minerals
When we are dehydrated, there is less water than minerals in the extracellular matrix (aka the outside part of the cell) and this causes a higher ionic concentration outside the cell.
To help get the body back into balance once again, the water stored inside the cell travels outside the cell to help the body balance this out. What this means in practice is the cell becomes smaller and shrinks as the water volume is evacuating from the inside of the cell.
Has this got something to do with my urine being darker when I’m dehydrated?
Yes! Exactly that. As the water is leaving the cells and the cells are shrinking in volume, the kidneys then excrete more concentrated urine as it is trying to help your body retain the water - as well as keeping the water to mineral balance.
Ok, I think I understand the basics here - cellular hydration is important, and so is the mineral levels in our cells. What are the factors that actually impact whether or not my body absorbs the water that I put in?
Good question. The way that the body consumes water is as follows:
- It enters through the mouth and digestive tract;
- It travels into the intestines;
- Where it is then, hopefully, absorbed into the cells via the bloodstreams.
At this point - it is down to the ion ratio concentration and the difference between the inside and outside of the cell that will impact whether the cell pulls the water into the cell.
What this means is that - you can drink lots of water but then just pee it out before your cells absorb it.
The following can also increase the risk of cellular dehydration:
- High intake of caffeinated / alcohol / sugary and soft drinks;
- Intake of medications - many of these are diuretics and can cause an increased risk of dehydration;
- Chronic kidney issues - if the body is not able to get rid of concentrated urine, the problem can get worse;
- High blood sugar levels - this interferes with the balance in and outside of the cell as the body will try to balance the blood sugar level inside the cell;
- Intensive exercise without effective electrolyte replenishment; and
- Exposure to electromagnetic fields.
How can electromagnetic fields impact my hydration levels? That sounds quite crazy.
For sure. Electromagnetic fields (known as EMF) are created by all electricity as it travels to, from and within our electrical devices (think cellphones, cell phone towers, power lines, wifi routers and more). Society has seen an explosion of these EMF fields as the demand for electricity and man-made electromagnetic fields has been steadily increasing over the last few decades and to make things worse, it is now thought that 3-5% of the global population are actually developing hypersensitivity to these electrical currents - particularly from their wireless routers in their houses.
If water becomes exposed to high electromagnetic (EMF) or radio frequency (RF or cellular) frequencies, the water becomes ‘stressed’ and it changes structure into something we know as ‘unstructured water’. Almost all of the water that we come into contact with now is unstructured.
On top of that, when water is mechanically filtered, treated with chemicals and contaminated with various toxins the structure changes. Unstructured water actually has a decreased ability to move into cells and aid with cellular hydration as correctly ‘structured’ water may - and on top of that, when the body is then moving into a state of cellular dehydration, it then leads to a greater vulnerability to the stress of these frequencies - meaning that the body is then less able to repair the ensuing damage from the cellular hydration. A vicious cycle.
Understanding the impact of EMFs on water is a great place to start as this is something that we are going to see more and more awareness of this in the coming years.
Now we have a good understanding of the importance of cellular hydration, how to keep the body in balance, and why we need to, let’s look into top ticks around how to keep your cells hydrated as effectively as possible with some top hacks to incorporate into your daily wellness regime.
1/ Incorporate electrolytes into your diet
Consider incorporating electrolytes into your water source.
When you incorporate electrolytes along with an abundance of water, it can increase the electric charge across your cell’s membrane. This allows water to cross the membrane more efficiently, allowing it to go where it is needed for optimal functioning. In simpler terms, your cells will be able to get hydrated more easily.
At Agent Nateur, our favorite electrolyte support is linked here.
However - remember - you don’t need electrolytes every time you’re intaking liquid. Keep these for the intense exercise days or when you’ve been outside in the sun for a long time.
2/ Sip on water throughout the day
You’ve probably heard this before. Sip, don’t glug! Sipping on water throughout the day allows your cells to absorb this water consistently rather than overwhelming it and the body pushing it out quickly. Small and often.
3/ Incorporate foods high in water content
You can eat your water too! Focus on incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet daily to help increase your levels of cellular hydration - particularly melons (watermelon, honeydew or cantaloupe), strawberries, pineapple, peaches, oranges, bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, lettuce & zucchini.
4/ Don’t rehydrate with sugar drinks
Avoid sugar-laden drinks at all costs. These are not an optimal source of hydration. Clean water is your best bet and - structured water? Even better.
5/ Consider structured water
Consider incorporating ‘structured’ water into your daily life to resupply your body with the type of water and cellular hydration it needs, as well as increasing your resilience to the presence of cellular, wireless and EMF producing technology that we are all exposed to constantly.
So remember, the goal is to have your cells hydrated. Invest in this, and you will see the benefits. More energy, better focus and concentration, better skin quality, digestion, mental health - and more.
6/ Consider filtered water
If a structured water machine is not an option, consider a home filtration system. Our favorite is from Pure Elements Water linked here.
7/ Incorporate more fiber into your diet
Last but not least, fiber. This is often overlooked. Fiber adds bulk and depth to the products that you eat and it helps it stay in your gut for longer. It keeps you more full, allows you to digest the food better and then absorb the nutrients from the food sources. Be sure to increase your fiber - particularly veggies as they are also full of nutrients, antioxidants, etc.
By Louise Rumball / @iamlouise rumball
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.