The most common type of dehydration is chronic and occurs within the cells. This form of dehydration usually goes unnoticed and triggers many health imbalances which are often not connected to dehydration.
The Importance of Water
Water sustains all life. Next to oxygen it is the most important nutrient the body needs. In the total absence of water, dehydration and a breakdown of normal functioning occurs which in a matter of a few days leads to death. Fortunately most of us are getting some form of water from food and drinks on a daily basis.
Is this amount of water enough to support day to day functioning within the body?
Imbalances Connected to Cellular Dehydration include:
- Pain: headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, sore throats, earaches
- Dryness within the body tissues:
- Skin: itchy dry skin, eczema, psoriasis
- Nails: Dry brittle nails
- Hair: Coarse dry hair, alopecia
- Eyes: Dry eyes, eye irritation
- Colon: constipation, IBS
- Lungs: asthma
- Acid reflux, stomach ulcers
- Allergies, food sensitivities
- Brittle bones, arthritis
- Mood swings, low mood
- Poor energy, sugar cravings, poor sleep
- Fluid retention
- Weight Issues
- Blood sugar imbalances: hypoglycaemia, type 2 diabetes
- Abnormal blood pressure
- Abnormal cholesterol
How Health and Wellbeing is influenced by Cellular Dehydration
According to natural nutrition principles, cellular dehydration is triggered by any form of physical, emotional and/or mental stress. Stress switches on the fight or flight response which is a survival mechanism for coping with the perceived level of danger.
The Stress Pathway
The fight and flight response triggers many changes within the body such as increasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, making the blood thicker, raising blood pressure, mobilising energy for the muscles and inhibiting digestion. Water is a key nutrient to the fight and flight process. Repeated stress will therefore increase the need for water and if not supplied triggers further dehydration within the body. If this situation becomes long-term and chronic then the pattern for dis-ease and imbalanced health sets in.
From natural nutrition principles there is a connection of chronic cellular dehydration with wellbeing. The brain should normally be around 85% water and the body is around 75% water. As soon as hydration levels fall below this level then health starts to become affected. For example, when the brain loses precious water this influences brain chemistry which in turn influences mood. The amino acid tryptophan is required by the brain to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin can be considered a "happy" hormone, as it greatly influences an overall sense of well-being and helps to regulate mood. Adequate amounts of water are required for tryptophan to be transported into the brain. Dehydration may limit the amount of tryptophan available to the brain resulting in low mood.
How the Body Copes with Cellular Dehydration
Histamine is released which is a message from the body that there is dehydration. If dehydration is not addressed and histamine levels build then this triggers pain and inflammation. This is a much stronger message from the body that something is wrong and urgently needs to be addressed.
When the body becomes chronically dehydrated it also diverts water from lower priority areas like the colon and skin to other higher priority areas like the kidneys, heart, lungs and brain. Using principles from Herring’s Law of Cure; dehydration within the body progresses from the lesser organs to the greater organs. A similar principle also exists in traditional Chinese 5 element theory where dehydration will usually initially manifest within the colon which is considered as the lowest level and then progressively moves deeper within the body manifesting in the skin, lungs and lastly the brain which is considered the deepest level. This pattern of dehydration is usually seen within families and is often highlighted within their previous generations.
Deep nutritional imbalances and chronic dehydration within a family often span back into previous generations. When nutritional imbalances have not been addressed each new generation manifests a deeper level of cellular dehydration than the previous generation.
When taking case histories I have frequently observed that in the previous generation skin and colon health issues are present and in the subsequent generation lung and/or mental health issues are present indicating that the level of dehydration has deepened from one generation to the next.
The Impact of Cellular Dehydration
Cellular dehydration causes changes within the cell. The outer boundary of the cell known as the cell membrane starts to increase its coating of cholesterol, which is a hard, waxy-like material. This extra layer of cholesterol is designed to help the cell to hold onto precious water when it is in a dehydrated state. If cellular dehydration is not addressed then over time the cholesterol coating thickens and interferes with the transfer of substances like nutrients from entering the cell and disrupts normal cellular communication.
Cellular dehydration also influences the electrolytes: principally sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium. The electrolytes are key players in generating the correct electrical charges within the cells and are essential for correct nerve and muscle functioning. Many areas of the body can become disrupted when the electrolytes are imbalanced. For example, the brain relies on its system of electrical impulses and the muscles within the digestive system will cramp and go into spasm when the electrolytes are imbalanced.
Cellular dehydration and electrolyte imbalance within the body tissues is not an immediate worry for the body to deal with. Obviously if the imbalance builds over time then it will become more of an issue. However dehydration and electrolyte imbalances within the blood are a more urgent matter for the body to address. Any electrolyte imbalance in the blood triggered by dehydration is typically from a loss of calcium ions, which results in a lowering of blood pH making it more acidic. This change in blood pH in turn forces the body to lower blood sugar. The adjustment in blood sugar is a necessary measure to maintain blood pH within normal levels. When blood sugar is lowered in this way the brain in particular becomes affected and triggers feelings of anxiety and stress which in turn influences mood and behaviour.
When the body tissues become acidic, this encourages the growth of harmful micro-organisms like parasites, bacteria, viruses and fungi which prefer the increased acidity. Toxicity and waste products from these harmful micro-organisms can lead to ill health and manifest a range of symptoms like: poor digestive health, pain, inflammation, skin rashes, cravings, poor mood and low energy. In order to address this, the pH of the body tissues needs to be brought back into normal range.
The Main Factors Contributing to Cellular Dehydration
Lifestyle stress which may be any combination of physical, emotional or mental stress triggers the fight and flight response which in turn triggers cellular dehydration.
Other significant factors contributing to cellular dehydration include diet and nutritional imbalances.
Diet is one of the main external sources of cellular dehydration. The common causes of dietary dehydration include low water intake and a nutritionally poor diet high in processed foods and chemicals. Other dietary sources of dehydration include medications and stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and recreational drugs.
Some foods even though they have health-promoting properties can be too dry for the body to cope with. For example foods like whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds require a lot of water to be present in the digestive system for them to be correctly digested. These foods need to be correctly prepared otherwise it will be difficult for the body to digest and absorb their nutrients.
Regular dietary dehydration often leads to the digestive system becoming the first place to be chronically dehydrated. This can manifest symptoms like heart burn, stomach ulcers, bloating, irritable bowel, spasm, constipation and so on.
Hydration is also influenced by fat & oil intake. The omega 3 essential fatty acids in particular play a key role in maintaining cellular hydration. The essential fatty acids are involved in the production of tissue hormones known as prostaglandins which have a range of functions including regulating cell hydration.
A diet which is low or imbalanced in essential fats from an excess intake of omega 6 and low intake of omega 3 leads to an imbalance within the prostaglandins. This type of imbalance often leads to inflammatory symptoms within the body.
In order to successfully produce prostaglandins omega 6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids are required in the correct proportions. Other essential nutritional cofactors to make prostaglandins are also required. These include: phospholipids, zinc, magnesium and vitamins B3, B6, C and E. If these nutrients are not supplied then imbalances within prostaglandin functioning and the endocrine system start to occur.
A diet rich in damaged trans-fats or cooked heat sensitive fats leads to a build up of cholesterol & damaged fats building within the cell membranes of the cells. The build up of cholesterol & damaged fats within the cell membranes disrupts cellular communication and impairs the uptake of nutrients & release of cellular wastes. Overtime this will impair cellular functioning and increase cellular dehydration.
Holistically Addressing Cellular Dehydration
Steps to help address cellular dehydration include:
- Get support with dealing with life issues which are creating stress. Remember that the problem may not go away but your response to it can be changed. Tools like meditation, yoga, counselling, energy healing can all provide positive support.
- Make sure that water intake is matched to the body’s needs. Physical activity, stress levels etc also need to be taken into account when addressing the body’s water needs.
- Hydrate the digestive system by drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before and after each meal.
- Hydrate dry foods as much as possible before consuming: soaking grains overnight before cooking, consuming nuts and seeds which are pre-soaked, soaking dried fruits etc
- Consume foods which are rich in essential minerals like celery, mineral broths and green juices which will help to address electrolyte imbalances.
- Include oily fish and linseed tea in the diet to provide the essential omega 3 fatty acids
- Avoid foods which imbalance blood sugar (refined foods, refined carbohydrates, grains can be an issue for some)
- Avoid dehydrating foods like processed and refined foods, which usually contain chemical preservatives, damaged fats, refined sugars and salt
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, alcohol
- Identify and avoid foods which may be too challenging at this time to digest (gluten, lactose etc) by getting support from a qualified nutritionist
- Get support with healing any internal inflammation particularly within the digestive system and to restore a healthy gut flora.
In natural nutrition a programme is developed for the individual, which is tailored to their unique needs. This programme includes dietary changes and naturopathic cleansing which help support the body to naturally offload internalised toxicity.
When hydration levels improve the body is more able to carry out its normal day to day functions like absorbing and assimilating nutrients, processing and releasing cellular wastes and any internalised toxicity.