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Continuing Education

Who's Stealing My Hydration?

Posted on September 30, 2017 at 9:35 PM


This information is solely provided to assist you in a conversation with your physician. Consult your physician regarding the applicability of any information provided to your symptoms or medical condition. Only your physician is qualified to determine what is right for you and your specific health concerns

                                Who's Stealing My Hydration? 

You drink water, you eat your veggies, sometimes you even have your hydrating juice- but your body is stubborn when it comes to moving your hydration in a positive direction. You go through your list of usual suspects: could it be a medication, am I too hot, too cold or too hormonal? Is my activity too robust or not enough? Maybe it’s my aches and pains or my chronic disease that’s thwarting my hydration. It’s maddening when you struggle to pinpoint your hydration thief without success! Well it might be time to add another culprit to your dehydration list: STRESS!

The link between hydration and stress reduction is well documented. You are more likely to get dehydrated when you’re under stress because your heart rate is up and you’re breathing more heavily, so you’re losing fluid. If you are already dehydrated, your body can’t function properly and that can lead to more physical stress and oh my…your physical stress is often stuffed into that big, ugly bag you tote around called emotional stress. Yes it’s true: all of our organs, including our brains, need water to function properly and the truth is that your body doesn’t discern whether your stress is emotional or physical. One grabs the other and next thing you know your body is spiraling downward and taking your hydration level right along with it! When your stress is up, your body is going to respond with a temper tantrum that can bludgeon you mentally and physically.

OMG - Those Darn Hormones!


When your hormones don’t hold hands and play nice; well things don’t usually end well.

Let’s start with the adrenal glands. When you’re under stress, your adrenal glands pump out stress hormones. When you are constantly under pressure, eventually your adrenals become exhausted and next thing you know your body has adrenal insufficiency. Here’s where the “holding hands and playing nice comes in”. Your adrenals also produce the hormone aldosterone, which helps regulate your body’s levels of fluid and electrolytes. As your adrenal fatigue progresses they are not “holding hands” and your body’s production of aldosterone drops, triggering dehydration and low electrolyte levels. Cortisol and Adrenaline are hormonal BFF’s. Surges in these hormones can be life-saving during a brief confrontation with marauding, flesh eating zombies but for the overbooked, chronically stressed gal or guy- too much of these hormones can not only make your body resistant to sufficient hydration but have been linked to overweight/obesity concerns as well as a plethora of very scary health risks.

                                   When you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated!

Stress and Dehydration: Breaking the Cycle

Staying hydrated throughout the day will not magically make your stress triggers disappear. But if you’re already stressed, your body won’t appreciate the additional stress of dehydration adding to its workload. Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated (that’s 1- 16 oz bottle of water), not to mention that person who just stepped on your last nerve, can increase your cortisol levels. Whenever certain people, places and/or times in your life contribute to extra stress - give out a primal scream and then reach for a glass of water. Just getting enough fluids may help your body squirm loose from the clutches of stress.

                                    It's a Vicious Cycle


Stress can cause dehydration, and dehydration can cause stress. You can break this cycle by implementing more hydrating strategies and removing as many of your stressors as possible. When I was terribly overweight, not one of my doctors ever mentioned that I might be chronically dehydrated but my nutritionist pinpointed it almost immediately. I learned that it is normal to confuse thirst for hunger and that when we ignore our body's thirst signals; overtime we become unable to easily recognize them. Constant sugar cravings can be one hidden sign of dehydration. My nutritionist use to say that my body was asking for water, I was just hearing Boston Crème Pie! Digestive ailments, especially acid reflux and allergen responses could be signs of chronic dehydration. With dehydration, histamine levels can increase and your immune system can send out aggressive warriors to pick a fight with pretty much anything traveling through your digestive track. So if your tummy is not happy, it just might be functional not a lack of humor! Stress can result in many of the same responses as dehydration which can confuse your body. (Increased heart rate, depression, nausea, fatigue, and headache are the most common). Taking a good hard look at your lifestyle is important. Are you consistently feeling “overbooked”? Are you so busy taking care of everyone else that you fail to take care of yourself? Are you the “chronic fixer”? Can you remember the last time you did something just for you that was fun and/or relaxing? Do you take time to just be quiet and breathe? If you are chasing life without rest; you just may be increasing your odds of suffering digestive, emotional, hormonal and/or physical diseases that will finally bring you to your knees. While you are contemplating your other lifestyle choices, why not start with the commitment to consistently adhere to balanced eating , work on achieving and maintaining a healthy hydration level and breathe. Anything you can do to diminish the physiological responses of stress is worth the effort!

Tips for Supporting Hydration Each Day

• Be Consistent!

• Carry an ice filled, insulated sports bottle with you and fill it up as needed.

• Keep water on your desk at work. • Limit caffeine • Lower sodium intake

• Include hydrating vegetables and fruits; especially at snack times

• Keep a glass next to your bed. Many of us wake up dehydrated first thing in the morning.

• Sip…Sip. Sip throughout your day. Eight glasses all at once isn’t good for you!

• Give your hydrating juice recipe a try

• Remember to adjust your hydration to accommodate your activity/exercise; especially in warmer weather.

These are the resources that provided the information that I used in this article and shaped my opinion “Dehydration Symptoms.” Mayo Clinic. 2011. (November 22, 2012)“Dehydration.” NHS Choices. 2011. (November 22, 2012

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Reply MichaelLoask
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