5 Ways You Didn’t Know Dehydration is Affecting Your Body

It’s not good.

By Jenn Rose Smith

We’ve all heard the old adage about eight glasses a day. But what if there were other, smarter ways to hydrate your body, besides just drinking crazy amounts of water? According to Dana Cohen, MD, author of the new book Quench, there most definitely are. She’s a traditionally trained physician who has practiced integrative/functional medicine for over 20 years, and her new book is all about harnessing the power of hydration for ultimate wellness.

Dr. Cohen says that many American women are suffering from the effects of chronic, low grade dehydration. Those effects include more a lot more than just dry skin and urinary tract issues — they can influence every area of your life, from cognitive thinking to movement.

Read on to discover 5 unexpected ways dehydration is affecting your body, and for Dr. Cohen’s groundbreaking discoveries on the best ways to stay hydrated. 

Tell us a little bit about your new book, Quench. What inspired you to write it?

Quench addresses the problem of low grade, sub-clinical dehydration that affects most of us, and is implicated in many chronic diseases. There’s groundbreaking science showing a new phase of water existing in our cells and in nature. It’s by getting more of this “gel water” from plants that’s more effective at hydrating us without having to drink more regular liquid water. Think cactus, aloe, and chia seeds — all extremely hydrating.

We give recipes for smoothies, soups, water infusions, and other hydrating foods loaded with this kind of water. There’s a simple 5-day plan that anyone can and will benefit from, from the elderly to the super-fit. Also there’s brand new research on fascia — the connective tissue network that surrounds every organ and cell in our bodies — it’s because of this research that movement is the second half of the hydration equation. Fascia acts as a hydraulic pump in the body and we have to move to increase flow!

image by sakara

How common is dehydration common among American women?

I believe that most of us go through our days not optimally hydrated. Our environments are terrible with climate controlled rooms, uv lights, electronic devices, processed foods, and increasing medications — to name some of the culprits that are sucking the hydration out of us faster than we can replenish.

How much water should we drinking per day? Does it vary by your age? Time of year? Whether you’re pregnant or not?

Everyone is different, we are different shapes and sizes, we do different activities, some sweat more than others.. there’s no one size fits all. The Quench plan let’s you find your own optimal hydration. But if I have to give a rule of thumb I would say drink half your weight in ounces, more if you are pregnant or a heavy exerciser who sweats a lot.

kitchen, waterimage by nikole ramsay

Scroll down for five unexpected ways dehydration can effect the body according to Dr. Cohen:

Dehydration can actually make you dumber.

Even as little as a 2% loss in hydration can lead to a decline in cognitive function. I believe that fatigue and brain fog are early signs of dehydration.

It puts you at a serious health risk.

Chronic dehydration day in and out is a risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s. It also puts you at risk for certain cancers like colon and bladder cancer.

water, topo chicoimage by molly culver

Not getting enough water can age you, fast.

Hydration is truly the fountain of youth. In the book we talk about healthy fats and the relationship to hydration. It has to do with your cell walls, we need fat to keep our cells walls heathy so hydration can move in and out freely. There is no topical product that can beat inner hydration as a sign of youthful skin. Ancient Chinese princesses used to eat lychee fruit to keep their skin youthful. Lychee is loaded with gel water, you can see it and taste it. (Caveat-lychee has a lot of sugar, so small quantities, or I often recommend a supplement called Oligonol, which is made from lychee and you can open the capsule and put it in your smoothie.

image by outdoor voices

Dehydration inhibits mobility.

Hydration keeps us moving fluidly — pun intended. Less joint pain, more range of motion.

Not getting enough water spells trouble for your digestive tract.

Lastly we forget that hydration is not only important for what goes in but it is important for what goes out. In order to properly detoxify we need to be well hydrated.