How do hydration and dehydration impact your metabolism?
Water is the foundation of life, making up a big part of our bodies and helping our body’s systems work smoothly. Although we hear a lot about healthy habits, the importance of drinking adequate water is only sometimes given the attention it deserves.
Water greatly impacts how our bodies work, especially when it comes to our metabolism – how our bodies process energy. There’s no doubt that athletes understand this, but many other people don’t realize how important it is. This is particularly true for groups like bariatric patients, who need to avoid sugary drinks and focus on drinking enough water.
This article explains how water and our body’s energy processes are linked. This article will explain how keeping a good fluid balance in your body can benefit you in many ways.
Hydration and Its Important
Our bodies maintain a balance between water intake and water loss through hydration. In addition to regulating temperature, nutrient transport, waste removal, and cellular communication, water plays many other physiological roles. As well as supporting metabolic processes, it is essential for various bodily fluids, such as blood and lymph.
Following are some important metabolic processes in which hydration is involved:
Hydration and Metabolism
Efficient Nutrient Transport:
Proper hydration aids in the transportation of essential nutrients across cells. Food is broken down into simpler molecules by enzymatic reactions in water, facilitating nutrient absorption and energy production.
Body temperature and metabolism are intertwined. Hydration is essential for regulating body temperature efficiently. In this process, dehydration impairs the body’s ability to regulate its core temperature, leading to increased metabolic pressure.
Optimal Energy Utilization:
In addition to facilitating the efficient conversion of nutrients into energy, hydrated cells function optimally. Researchers have found that well-hydrated individuals have a higher resting metabolic rate, which can help them manage their weight and balance their energy levels.
Waste products produced by metabolic processes need to be excreted. Water intake supports removing waste products through urine, preventing their buildup, which may harm metabolic efficiency.
A dehydration state may hinder the proper functioning of various metabolic processes and, in fact, cause many problems.
Dehydration’s Impact on Metabolism
Slowed Metabolic Rate:
Dehydration can result in a decreased metabolic rate. The body burns fewer calories during physical activity when it lacks sufficient water, causing energy production to be less efficient.
Impaired Nutrient Absorption:
Dehydration can compromise nutrient absorption in the digestive tract. Consequently, ingested food can provide less energy to the body, affecting metabolic processes overall.
Decreased Exercise Performance:
Metabolism relies heavily on physical activity. In addition to impairing muscle function, dehydration can increase the perception of effort during workouts. Thus, metabolic outcomes and energy expenditure are affected.
Some hormones, including those involved in metabolism, are disrupted by dehydration. Dehydration, for example, can raise cortisol levels, contributing to metabolic dysfunction over time.
Hydration’s Influence on Blood Sugar and Insulin Balance
In addition to quenching thirst, hydration profoundly affects blood sugar and insulin balance. When the body is dehydrated, the volume of the blood decreases, which causes glucose to concentrate in the bloodstream. In turn, insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating glucose, triggers a cascade of events. In dehydrated bodies, insulin sensitivity decreases, which may result in insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Well contrast, adequate hydration facilitates efficient glucose transport, utilization, and disposal, contributing to better control of blood sugar levels.
A study titled “A Journey through the Early Evidence Linking Hydration to Metabolic Health” reviews the early evidence that hydration positively affects metabolic health. According to the authors, a decrease in insulin sensitivity and increased glucose production can result from dehydration. Additionally, they review evidence that water supplementation can reduce insulin resistance and fasting glucose levels.
According to the authors, hydration plays an important role in metabolic health. It is recommended that individuals who are at risk of dehydration or metabolic dysfunction drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
How hydration affects blood sugar and insulin levels?
There are several ways in which dehydration or hydration affects metabolism, including glucose production and insulin sensitivity:
Antidiuretic Hormone (Adh):
ADH is a hormone that is released by the pituitary gland when dehydration occurs. Increasing the reabsorption of water in the kidneys by ADH helps conserve water. A high ADH level causes less water to be excreted in the urine, which can make you dehydrated. As a result of dehydration, the liver produces more glucose. Whenever the liver detects that the body is not receiving enough water, glucose is produced.
Insulin (a hormone) aids the body in using glucose for energy. Glucose is not readily absorbed by cells when they become resistant to insulin. The result can be an increase in blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance can also be caused by dehydration. It is because the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are susceptible to damage by dehydration.
Adrenal glands produce glucocorticoids. Insulin sensitivity can be decrease by these hormones, which increase glucose production. Insulin resistance can be further exacerbate by dehydration, which increases glucocorticoids.
The study also mentions that the mechanisms by which hydration or dehydration affect metabolism still need to be fully understand. More research is require to understand these mechanisms fully.
Hydration, Lean Mass, and Muscular Performance
Hydration plays a fundamental role in lean body mass and muscular performance. Water is abundant in skeletal muscle, which comprises approximately 40% of the body’s weight. Dehydration can compromise muscle function, resulting in early fatigue, reduced strength, and diminished endurance.
Muscle protein synthesis, the building and repairing of muscle tissue, requires optimal hydration. Furthermore, it contributes to the maintenance of electrolyte balance, which is essential for the proper contraction of muscles and for the performance of athletes as a whole.
Children between the ages of 10 and 20 in the US are obese, and 60% fail to meet the US Dietary Reference Intakes for water. Several studies have demonstrated that body composition and hydration status are inversely related.
A study investigated the relationship between hydration status and body composition among 1,281 healthy children and adolescents. There were higher body fat levels, waist circumference, and lean body mass in children and adolescents with lower hydration status.
According to these findings, children and adolescents can regulate their body composition more by maintaining a good hydration level.
Gut Microbiome Health and Hydration
In recent years, it has become increasingly evident that the gut microbiome, which consists of trillions of microorganisms residing in the digestive tract, significantly impacts overall health. Staying hydrated is extremely important for gut health, as it facilitates mucin production. This gel-like substance lines the intestinal walls and protects against harmful pathogens.
Mucin production is compromise by dehydration, resulting in gut barriers and increase susceptibility to gut diseases. By maintaining adequate hydration levels, you contribute to the health of your gut barrier and gut microbiome, which in turn contributes to your metabolic and immune systems.
A cross-sectional study examined 123 healthy young adults’ hydration status, gut microbiota, and immune function. The study found that:
The gut microbiota composition of people with lower hydration status differed from those with higher hydration status.
Those with lower hydration levels expressed more pro-inflammatory cytokines and fewer anti-inflammatory cytokines.
According to these findings, gut microbiota and immune function may be regulate by hydration status.
Additionally, the study found that the following factors were associate with lower hydration status:
- Male sex
- Higher body mass index (BMI)
- Lower levels of physical activity
- Higher intake of soft drinks
Overall, the study’s findings suggest that hydration status is an important factor for maintaining healthy gut microbiota and immune function.
Hydration’s Link to Fat Distribution
In emerging research, there appears to be a connection between hydration status and fat distribution. Low hydration levels may increase obesity risk, altering fat distribution patterns compared with well-hydrated individuals. A complex and multifaceted mechanism behind this phenomenon involves hormonal regulation, adipocyte function, and metabolic homeostasis. Despite the lack of clarity on these mechanisms, they underscore the importance of hydration in metabolic health.
One study titled “Estimating changes in hydration status from changes in body mass: Considerations regarding metabolic water and glycogen storage” discusses challenges associated with estimating changes in hydration status.
As a result of metabolic water and glycogen storage, body mass can change, and the accuracy of estimates of hydration status may be affect. The study found the following key findings:
Water produce by the body during metabolism as metabolic water. Approximately 300 mL are consume each day.
Glycogen is a type of carbohydrate that is store in both the liver and muscles. Glycogen contains about 3 grams of water per gram.
Body mass can change due to changes in hydration status, metabolic water, and glycogen storage.
Metabolic water and glycogen storage can affect the accuracy of estimates of hydration status based on body mass changes.
It is a complex process to estimate hydration status based on changes in body mass. The development of more accurate methods for estimating hydration status requires more research.
Cognitive Function and Hydration
In addition to its physiological effects, hydration also profoundly affects cognitive function. In mild cases of dehydration, attention, memory, mood, and decision-making can be impair.
A delicate balance between fluids and electrolytes ensures optimal neurotransmission in the brain. Dehydration disrupts this equilibrium, resulting in decreased cognitive acuity and difficulties performing daily tasks.
One study found that water intake, hydration status, and cognitive performance were associated with older adults with metabolic syndrome.
The study found that:
The level of physiological hydration over two years contributed to a decline in global cognitive performance.
A significant association between 2-year changes in global cognitive function and water intake from beverages and foods was not observing.
Maintaining good hydration status may be crucial for older adults with metabolic syndrome to support cognitive function.
Electrolytes and Minerals: The Vital Components of Hydration
In addition to water consumption, electrolytes, and minerals play an important role in hydration. Electrolytes such as magnesium, sodium, and potassium are essential for nerve function, muscle contraction, fluid balance, and pH regulation.
Electrolyte replenishment is essential for athletes during intense physical activity. Regardless of one’s athletic pursuits, this principle applies universally. Muscle cramps, irregular heartbeats, and impaired metabolic processes can result from electrolyte imbalances caused by inadequate hydration.
In one study, different types of water were examined for their effects on hydration status and short-term anaerobic exercise metabolism.
The study found that:
A significant decrease in specific urine gravity is observing following anaerobic exercise with alkaline water.
In response to high-intensity interval exercise, athletes hydrated with alkaline, low-mineralized water experienced favorable changes in hydration status with a significant decrease in specific urine gravity, increased urine pH, and more efficient utilization of lactate.
However, more research is need to confirm and understand these findings.
Hydration Status Indicators
It is possible to determine the body’s hydration status in many ways. Among the most common methods are:
Urine color: Yellow or clear urine indicates good hydration. A dark yellow or amber urine indicates dehydration.
Urine-specific gravity: The urine-specific gravity measures the concentration of dissolved solids in urine. A low urine specific gravity indicates dehydration.
Body weight: Dehydration can cause changes in body weight. A person who loses more than 1% of their body weight daily will likely be dehydrate.
Skin turgor: Skin turgor is a measure of skin elasticity. You can do this by pinching and releasing a fold of skin on the back of your hand. You are well hydrate if your skin bounces back quickly after being touch. In contrast, you may be dehydrate if your skin remains indented for a few seconds.
Thirst: Hydration is maintained by thirst, a natural mechanism. Dehydration is a common cause of feeling thirsty, and if you feel thirsty, it may indicate that you’re dehydrating.
Strategies To Stay Hydrated!
Our health and well-being depend on hydration. Maintaining good hydration can be achieve by following these strategies:
Listen to Your Thirst: Thirst is our body’s way of telling us when we need to drink water. You should drink water whenever you feel thirsty based on your body’s signals.
Carry a Reusable Water Bottle: Having a water bottle with you throughout the day makes it easy to drink water. When it runs out, refill it.
Set Reminders: In our busy lives, forgetting to drink water is easy. Ensure you take regular sips of water by setting alarms or reminders on your phone.
Infuse Your Water: When plain water doesn’t excite you, add some flavor. A refreshing taste can be achieve by infusing your water with slices of fruits such as lemon, lime, berries, or even cucumber.
Eat Hydrating Foods: Fresh fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water. Consuming watermelon, cucumbers, oranges, and lettuce can help you stay hydrated.
Monitor Urine Color: Be aware of your urine’s color. You’re probably hydrate if your urine is pale yellow or straw-color, but you’re probably dehydrate if it’s dark yellow or amber-colored.
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Coffee and alcohol can increase fluid loss because of their diuretic effects. Make sure you drink enough water to balance your consumption.
Hydrate in Hot Weather: Drink more water to stay hydrated in a hot and humid environment. You should increase your fluid intake in response to these conditions.
Pay Attention to Medications: Some medications can affect your hydration levels. Ask your doctor how medications may affect your hydration needs if you’re taking them.
Remember: Everyone’s hydration needs differ based on age, activity level, and climate. The goal is to maintain a balanced fluid intake that optimizes your body. These strategies will help you stay well-hydrated and support your overall health if you incorporate them into your daily routine.
Hydration and metabolism are intricately connects, transcending conventional notions of thirst quenching. Almost every aspect of human metabolism is affects by hydration, such as blood sugar regulation, lean mass maintenance, gut health, fat distribution, and cognitive function. Maintaining metabolic health requires proper hydration, enriched with electrolytes and minerals.
Modern lifestyles can be challenging, but acknowledging and addressing the vital role of hydration can enhance well-being and optimize metabolic performance.