The Effects of Dehydration in the Body

A reduction of just one percent in the hydration levels of the body can cause performance drops of up to 14 percent. In what other ways can dehydration affect us?
The Effects of Dehydration in the Body

Last update: 26 May, 2020

The effects of dehydration can have fatal consequences for the body. However, before reaching this extreme point, there are a series of symptoms and effects that we should know about.

Maintaining good levels of hydration is essential. This is an aspect in which both older people and endurance athletes should exercise with extreme caution, as they’re more likely to suffer from dehydration.

Dehydration comes before thirst

Especially with athletes, it’s common for the body to activate thirst mechanisms when it’s already dealing with a water imbalance. A loss of 1 percent of body water can lead to a 14 percent drop in performance. For this reason, it’s very important to stay well-hydrated during exercise.

There are many valid ways to stay hydrated. According to a study published in the journal Hospital Nutrition, it’s essential to establish a hydration strategy before, during, and after sporting events. One way to guarantee fluid replacement can be to drink around 6 ounces (200 ml) of freshwater every 30 minutes of exercise.

Losing body water can cause cramps

One of the causes of muscle cramps is an electrolyte imbalance. Dehydration may be another cause.

Losing body water during physical exercise can cause the athlete to suffer from muscle aches or pain. For this reason, it’s essential to stay well hydrated, especially when the temperature and humidity conditions are high.

A young female athlete suffering from the effects of dehydration in her body

The appropriate strategy to prevent this type of pain is to consume sports beverages that contain water and mineral salts. This is a great way to ensure a supply of electrolytes, which can help reduce the incidence of muscle cramps, according to a study published in 2015.

Dizziness, one of the possible effects of dehydration in the body

One of the typical consequences of dehydration in the body is feeling dizzy. A loss of 3 to 4 percent of total body water can cause a decrease in blood volume, which will in turn, lead to defects in the distribution of nutrients on a cellular level. This situation can also cause organic inefficiencies that may put our health at risk.

As a matter of fact, if the dehydration levels increase, you can stop producing sweat in order to save as much liquid as possible. Heat strokes that are associated with the absence of sweat are the ones that have the worst prognosis.

A woman drinking a sports beverage to fight the effects of dehydration

Vegetable consumption to prevent the effects of dehydration

When planning a correct hydration guideline, we must take into account the water provided by certain foods. Vegetables are mostly composed of water, and for this reason, including a good portion of them in our diet reduces the risk of complications associated with water imbalances.

Regular intake of certain fruits, such as melon or watermelon, can promote a good level of hydration in the body. This type of food is most common during the summer, so it’s a great option to consider during high-temperature periods. Eating them will contribute to our daily water intake and help us reach the liquid requirements for the body.

On the other hand, it’s also essential to consume mineral water. Nowadays, drinking sugary soft beverages is a much too common practice. Those types of drinks, despite being quite refreshing, don’t have the same ability to improve the hydration levels of the body. They also contain far too much sugar, which can damage our health in the medium term.

For these reasons, we should save soft drinks for very specific occasions. On the contrary, water is something that must appear in our daily diet; we should be drinking around two liters every day.

A wide variety of fruits and vegetables with high water content

The effects of dehydration: a danger to the body

Remember that dehydration processes can put your health at risk. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure the intake of freshwater on a regular basis.

You should increase your consumption even more if you’re doing any type of sports activity. Doing so will reduce the risk of muscle cramps and pain, as well as the chances of suffering from major health problems.

Also, don’t forget to include vegetables in your everyday diet. Their high water content is a perfect complement to stick to good hydration guidelines. Fruits should also be present in your diet. And never replace freshwater with sugary soft drinks.

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  • Mar Bibiloni M., Vidal Garcia E., Carrasco M., Julibert A., et al., Hydration habits before, during and after training and competition days among amateur basketball players. Nutr Hosp, 2018. 35 (3): 612-619.
  • Young G., Leg Cramps, BMJ Clin Evid, 2015.

The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.