The Dangers of Dehydration
(NaturalNews) The human body is composed of 75 percent water and 25 percent solid matter. To provide nourishment, eliminate waste and conduct all the trillions of activities in the body, we need water. Most modern societies, however, no longer stress the importance of drinking water as the most important "nutrient" among nutrients. Entire population groups are substituting water with tea, coffee, alcohol and other manufactured beverages. Many people don't realize that the natural thirst signal of the body is a sign that it requires pure, plain drinking water. Instead, they opt for other beverages in the belief that this will satisfy the body's water requirements. This is a false belief.
Common Beverage Substitutions Lead to Dehydration
It is true that beverages such as tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks, sports drinks and juices contain water, but they also contain caffeine, alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners or other chemicals that act as strong dehydrators. The more of these beverages you consume, the more dehydrated your body becomes because the effects they create in the body are exactly opposite the ones that are produced by water. Beverages containing caffeine, for example, trigger stress responses that at first have strong diuretic effects, leading to increased urination. Beverages with added sugar drastically raise blood sugar levels. Any beverage that provokes such a response coerces the body to give up large quantities of water. Regular consumption of such beverages results in chronic dehydration, which plays a part in every toxicity crisis (the body's effort to rid itself of accumulated toxins).
There is no practical or rational reason to treat an illness (toxicity crisis) with synthetic drugs or even with natural medications and methods unless the body's need for hydration has been met first. Drugs and other forms of medical intervention can be dangerous for the human physiology largely because of their strongly dehydrating effects. Most patients nowadays are suffering from "thirst disease," a progressive condition of dehydration. Some parts of the body may be dehydrated more than others. Unable to remove toxins from these parts due to insufficient water reserves, the body is faced with the consequences of their destructive effects (toxemia). The lack of recognition of the most basic aspects of water metabolism in the body more often than not becomes a "diagnosed" illness, when it is really the body's desperate cry for water. What doctors generally refer to as disease, is largely an advanced condition of dehydration and the resulting inability of the body to rid itself of waste materials and toxins.
Those who have lived for many years without proper water intake are the most likely to succumb to the buildup of toxins in the body. Chronic disease is always accompanied by dehydration and, in many cases, caused by it. The longer a person lives on a low water ration and/or on a high ration of stimulating beverages or foods, the more severe and long-lasting will be the toxicity crisis. Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach ulcers, hypertension, cancer, MS, Alzheimer's, and many other chronic forms of disease are preceded by years of "body drought." Infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses cannot thrive in a well-hydrated body. Drinking enough water is, therefore, one of the most important disease-prevention measures you can take.
Those who do not drink enough water, or who unduly deplete their body's water reserves through overstimulation for a period of time, gradually lower the ratio of the volume of water that exists inside the cells to the ratio of the volume of water that is found outside the cells. Normally, the water ratio inside cells is higher than the one found in the cell environment. Under conditions of dehydration, the cells may lose up to 28 percent or more of their water volume. This certainly undermines all cellular activities, whether the cells in question are those of the skin, stomach, liver, kidney, heart or brain. Whenever there is cellular dehydration, metabolic waste products are not removed properly. This causes symptoms that resemble disease, but they are really just indicators of disturbed water metabolism.
Since more and more water begins to accumulate outside the cells in order to dilute and help neutralize the toxic waste products that have accumulated there, the dehydration may not be apparent to the afflicted person. He may, in fact, notice that he begins to hold on to water in his legs, feet, arms and face. His kidneys may also begin to hold on to water, markedly reducing urinary secretion and causing the retention of potentially harmful waste products. Normally, cellular enzymes signal to the brain when cells run low on water. Enzymes in dehydrated cells, however, become so inefficient that they are no longer able to register the drought-like condition. Subsequently, they fail to convey the emergency situation to the brain, which would normally push the "thirst alarm button."
Demetria, a 53-year-old Greek woman, consulted me to find relief for the painful condition of gallbladder disease. Her skin was dark gray, indicating a high concentration of toxins in her liver and throughout her body. Seeing how dehydrated (and swollen) her body was, I offered her a glass of water. She said, "I never drink water; it makes me sick!" I told her that her natural thirst signals were no longer working due to cellular dehydration, and that without drinking enough water, her body could not return to balance. It was obvious to me that her body would use any amount of water she drank to instantly remove some of the toxins lurking in her stomach, giving rise to nausea. In her case, any therapy other than drinking water would have been a waste of her time and money. Demetria's difficult condition required that she begin sipping small amounts of hot, ionized water every half hour (see directions in "General Guidelines" of Chapter 6, Timeless Secrets of Health and Rejuvenation, www.ener-chi.com) to help remove these toxins until she was able to drink larger portions of regular water.
A dehydrated person may also be suffering from a lack of energy. Because of a shortage of water inside the cells, the normal osmotic flow of water through the cell membrane becomes severely disturbed. Similar to a stream running down a mountain, the movement of water into the cells generates "hydroelectric" energy, which is subsequently stored as ATP molecules (the main source of cellular energy). As a rule, the water we drink keeps the cell volume balanced, and the salt we eat maintains the balanced volume of water that is kept outside the cells and in circulation. This generates the perfect osmotic pressure necessary for cellular nourishment and energy production. In a dehydrated state, the body fails to sustain this vital mechanism, thereby leading to potentially serious cell damage.
The Pain Connection
Another major indicator of dehydration in the body is pain. In response to an increasing shortage of water, the brain activates and stores the important neurotransmitter histamine, which directs certain subordinate water regulators to redistribute the amount of water that is in circulation. This system helps move water to areas where it is needed for essential metabolic activity and survival when facing such a shortage, as may occur during a drought. When histamine and its subordinate regulators for water intake and distribution move across pain-sensing nerves in the body, they trigger strong and continual pain. These pain signals may manifest, for example, in rheumatoid arthritis, angina, dyspepsia, low back problems, fibromyalgia, neuralgia, migraine, and hangover headaches. They are necessary to alert the person to attend to the problem of a widespread or localized form of dehydration.
Taking analgesics or other pain-relieving medications such as antihistamines and antacids can cause irreversible damage in your body. They not only fail to address the real problem (which may be dehydration), but they also cut off the connection between the neurotransmitter, histamine, and its subordinate regulators, such as vasopressin, Renin-Angiotensin (RA), prostaglandin (PG), and kinins. Although the action of pain-killing drugs can relieve localized pain for a while, it also precludes your body from knowing the priority areas for water distribution. This can greatly confuse your body's internal communications systems and spread chaos throughout the body. Antihistamines -- oftentimes referred to as allergy drugs -- effectively prevent the body's histamines from ensuring balanced water distribution.
The problem worsens once the body has reached a certain pain threshold. In addition to jeopardizing the water-regulating mechanisms, these painkillers become ineffective because the brain takes over as a direct center for monitoring pain perpetuation (unless, of course, the body is properly hydrated again). If your body produces lasting pain for no apparent reason (not caused by an injury), before drawing any other conclusions, you should interpret this as the body's cry for water and its attempt to remedy an unbalanced condition. Prescription pain medication suppresses the body's primary signal of dehydration. Pain killers "short-circuit" the body's emergency routes for water supply; they also sabotage proper waste elimination and sow the seeds of chronic illness.
There is enough documentation to show that pain medications may have fatal side effects. They can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, which kills thousands each year. The morphine-type compounds these legal drugs contain can also lead to serious, life-altering addictions. When the famous radio host, Rush Limbaugh, announced on his radio program that he was addicted to pain medication, his life was in shambles. But he is not alone in this. There are millions of people who initially started off by taking an "innocent" Advil for the occasional headache, but ended up being unable to live without strong painkillers. Once you start using dehydrating medications like these, you will mostly likely develop the same kind or even worse pain over and over again.
The most recently documented and widely popularized side effects of pain killers, such as Vioxx, Celebrex and the over-the-counter drug Aleve (Naproxen), should tell you that there are no safe painkillers. These drugs were found to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes by at least 50 percent. Aspirin and other "harmless" drugs belong to the same class of painkillers as the above. Today, there are millions of heart disease sufferers, who out of ignorance and misguided trust in the medical system, the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry, believed that taking a little innocent baby pill wouldn't do them any harm. The revelation that this little pill could destroy their heart or damage their brain if they took it for more than 10 days may be no less than shocking. But how many people listen to such warnings if all they want is to "get rid of that annoying pain"?
Taking a "harmless" little pill that makes you feel better within a matter of minutes and allows you to get on with your life may feel like the right thing to do. And, if the pain medicine tastes delicious, the "miracle drug" couldn't possibly do you any harm, or could it? Tylenol Extra Strength "cool caplets," the latest craze among painkilling medications, makes these dangerous drugs appear harmless. It's both a breath mint and a pain reliever. But is it really a sound idea to add the temptation of flavoring to a pain-reliever that, by the FDA's own admission, plays a role in at least 100 reported (a fraction of the real figure) unintentional deaths each year? This may change now that the scandals surrounding drug approval and the revelations concerning shoddy research are increasingly being exposed; or will it? If you were to ask people on the street if they considered acetaminophen to be a completely benign medication, most would respond with a "yes." That totally undeserved reputation may only be reinforced when mint flavoring is added to the mix.
Once you decide to end a drug addiction, life is not going to be easy. Those who are able to afford a rehabilitation treatment, can choose a rapid anesthesia detox for about $5,900. To become truly rehabilitated, though, they will need to deal with the underlying causes of the pain that originally led them to take addictive drugs. The bottom line is this: The body's natural pain signal is a perfectly normal response to an abnormal situation -- simple dehydration. In many cases, the body's blood vessel walls, liver bile ducts, lymphatic ducts, kidneys, intestinal tract, and other organs of elimination are so congested that chronic dehydration becomes inevitable. To restore health, the body needs to be cleansed and nourished properly, which is the main theme of my book.
Most people have no real understanding of what pain is. They rarely perceive it to be an important part of the body's healing efforts. Pain is always a sign of resistance to what moves or flows naturally. The resistance can occur either as a result of some physical obstruction, such as constipation or lymph congestion, or from an emotional resistance to a particular person or situation. Once recognized, the causes of resistance can usually be resolved. Fighting pain tends to lead to more pain, whereas releasing the resistance lessens the pain. Even if you experience some pain while supporting the body through cleansing, rest and good nutrition, the pain actually helps to accelerate the healing. If you stay with the pain, rather than suppressing it with drugs, you will find that it will decrease naturally in a matter of hours or a few days. Trying to combat every ache or pain with painkillers, on the other hand, is an addiction that causes much fear and more pain in your life. Feeling one's pain with an attitude of acceptance removes all kinds of fear from your life. In addition, the pain experience itself will stimulate the secretion of the body's own natural painkillers and healing hormones -- the endorphins. Overall, once you have identified and dealt with the causes of the pain, it is just a matter of time before the pain disappears altogether.
Of course, in the rare case that the pain becomes simply unbearable, the use of painkillers may be unavoidable. At the same time, the pain-afflicted person should get on a hydration and cleansing program, as well as end any dehydrating influences in his life.
"Body Drought" - The Strongest Type of Stress
The human brain, working round the clock, requires more water than any other part of the body. Typically, the brain contains about 20 percent of all the blood that circulates through the body. It is estimated that brain cells consist of 85 percent water. Their energy requirements are not only met by metabolizing glucose (simple sugar), but also by generating "hydroelectric" energy from the water drive through cell osmosis. The brain depends greatly on this cell-generated source of energy in order to maintain its hugely complex processes and efficiency.
Water deficiency in the brain tissue cuts down the brain's energy supply, and thereby subdues many of its vital functions -- a situation most people call depression. With a lower than normal level of brain energy, you are unable to meet your physical, personal and social challenges and subsequently succumb to fear, anxiety, anger and other emotional tribulations. You may feel drained, lethargic, stressed and depressed. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), for example, is mostly a symptom of progressive brain dehydration that results from the inability to readily remove all metabolic waste matter and cellular debris from the brain and other vital parts of the body. What CFS sufferers refer to as "brain fog" is actually an accurate description of the congestion that occurs in the brain. CFS is not a vicious disease that somehow gets hold of a person for no apparent reason. It may disappear quite spontaneously when the afflicted person stops stimulating the brain with such things as caffeine, tobacco, medication and animal products and begins a consistent program of cleansing, hydrating, and nourishing the body. [For more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), please see the articles page on the author's website, (www.ener-chi.com)]
The Stress Response
When dehydrated, the body has to put up the fight of a lifetime -- similar to the one experienced during a famine or a "fight or flight" situation. It responds to such a crisis by mobilizing several powerful hormones, including adrenalin, endorphins, cortisone, prolactin, vasopressin, and Renin-Angiotensin (RA). Endorphins, for example, help us to withstand pain and stress and allow the body to continue most of its activities. Cortisone orders the mobilization of stored energies and essential raw materials to supply the body with energy and basic nutrients during the crisis. This hormone actually allows the body to feed off itself, a situation that is warranted during a famine. Of course, this is also very stressful and potentially dangerous for the body, as can be seen by such emotional expressions as, "I cannot cope anymore," or "This is really eating at me."
Many patients with rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) or other degenerative diseases take cortisone drugs, which often give them a boost of energy and morale for a relatively short period of time. The "success" of the drug, however, only lasts for as long as the body can tap into any energy and nutrient reserves still left. Once the body has used up its emergency provisions, it will barely function anymore, and the symptoms of disease will worsen considerably.
Constriction of blood vessels
When the cells in the body are under-supplied with water, the brain's pituitary gland produces the neurotransmitter vasopressin, a hormone that has the ability to constrict blood vessels in areas where there is cellular dehydration. During dehydration, the quantity of water in the bloodstream is reduced. Vasopressin, as its name suggests, squeezes the vascular system, i.e., the capillaries and arteries, to reduce their fluid volume. This maneuver is necessary to continue having enough pressure in the vascular system to allow for a steady filtration of water into the cells. This gives vasopressin a hypertensive property. High blood pressure is a common experience among people who are dehydrated. A similar situation occurs in the liver's bile ducts, which begin to constrict in response to water shortage in the body. Gallstone formation is a direct result of dehydration.
Drinking alcoholic beverages suppresses the secretion of vasopressin and thereby increases cellular dehydration. If alcohol consumption is excessive, cellular dehydration may reach dangerously high levels. The typical "hangover" that occurs after alcohol abuse is nothing but an extreme state of dehydration of the brain cells. To survive the alcohol-induced "drought," the body has to secrete more stress hormones, among them the addictive endorphins. With regular consumption of alcohol, that is, having a drink every day for several months or years, dehydration increases even further, and endorphin production becomes an addictive occurrence. This may lead to alcoholism, a disease that has devastating consequences on a person's personal and social life.
Water Retention and Kidney Damage
The Renin-Angiotensin (RA) system becomes activated whenever there is a shortage of water in the body. This brilliantly designed system is used to direct the body to hold on to water wherever possible. It instructs the kidneys to inhibit urination and tightens the capillaries and the vascular system, particularly in areas that are not as vitally important as the brain and the heart muscles. At the same time, it stimulates an increase in the absorption of sodium (salt), which helps the body to retain water. Unless the body returns to its normal level of hydration, the RA system remains activated. But this also means that the pressure of the blood against the walls of the blood vessels remains abnormally high, thereby causing the damage that is known as cardiovascular disease.
Hypertension and the retention of urine in the kidneys may lead to kidney damage. Conventional treatments for this condition consist mostly of diuretic (urine-forming) drugs and restricted salt consumption. Both can have severe drawbacks. Diuretic drugs, which are used to normalize blood pressure, as well as reduced salt intake, strongly undermine the body's emergency measures to save the little water it has left for normal cellular activities. The resulting stress response causes a further increase in dehydration, and the vicious cycle is complete. Many of the kidney transplants performed today are a result of chronic dehydration, which is caused by something as simple as not drinking enough water, consumption of alcohol, eating foods high in animal protein, or overstimulation of the nervous system.
The Caffeine and Alcohol Drama
The caffeine contained in such beverages as tea, coffee, soft drinks and most power drinks, not only stimulates and stresses both the central nervous and immune systems, but also acts as a powerful diuretic. For every cup of coffee or tea you drink, your body has to relinquish up to three cups of water to remove the toxic caffeine. It cannot afford to give up this water without suffering some sort of damage. The caffeine-containing soft drink beverages work in a similar way. Caffeine, being a nerve toxin, stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete stress hormones and to trigger a strong immune response that may give you the false impression that this newly found energy and vitality was somehow provided by the consumed beverage.
The secret behind these stimulants is that the immune reaction mobilizes enough energy for you to feel perked up and clear-headed, at least for as long as your body remains stimulated. To remove the caffeine from the blood, the body is forced to take water from its cells. This results in cellular dehydration and temporary thinning of the blood. Because the thinning of the blood makes you feel good, you won't notice the imminent danger of dehydration. The dehydrating effect of the caffeine in soft drinks is ample reason to avoid them. Unfortunately, caffeine is not the only culprit in soft drinks.
Soft Drinks May Seriously Harm Your Health
New evidence confirms that soft drinks cause serious cell damage. Research from a British university suggests a common preservative found in drinks such as Coca-Cola, Fanta and Pepsi Max has the ability to switch off vital parts of DNA -- a problem more usually associated with aging and alcohol abuse. This can eventually lead to cirrhosis of the liver and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's. The findings reveal serious consequences for the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who consume carbonated beverages. They also reopen the debate about food additives, which have been linked to hyperactivity in children.
The biggest concern centers on the safety of E211, known as sodium benzoate, a preservative used for decades by the $150 billion global carbonated drinks industry. Sodium benzoate derives from benzoic acid. It is used in large quantities to prevent mold from forming in soft drinks such as Sprite, Oasis and Dr Pepper. This common preservative is also added to pickles and sauces.
In the past, sodium benzoate had already been identified as an indirect cause of cancer. When mixed with the additive vitamin C in soft drinks, it produces benzene, a carcinogenic substance. Now, Dr. Peter Piper, professor of molecular biology and biotechnology at Sheffield University, England, has released the results of his research on the impact of sodium benzoate on living yeast cells in his laboratory. Professor Piper discovered that benzoate damaged an important area of DNA in the "power station" of cells known as the mitochondria. He told The Independent on Sunday, May 27, 2007: "These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether. The mitochondria consumes the oxygen to give you energy and if you damage it -- as happens in a number of diseased states -- then the cell starts to malfunction very seriously. And there is a whole array of diseases that are now being tied to damage to this DNA -- Parkinson's and quite a lot of neuro-degenerative diseases, but above all, the whole process of aging."
While referring to outdated tests done by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, Professor Piper said, "The food industry will say these compounds have been tested and they are completely safe. By the criteria of modern safety testing, the safety tests were inadequate. Like all things, safety testing moves forward and you can conduct a much more rigorous safety test than you could 50 years ago."
It is obvious that the government is not going to take a stand against the powerful food and beverage industry. It is up to everyone to protect themselves and their families against the careless policies and practices of those in charge of public health. Not allowing your children to drink soft drinks is one of the most important things you can do for their safety and good health. The same applies to sport drinks, which according to a report issued by the University of Californian in Berkeley can raise body weight a stunning 13 pounds each year if only one 20-ounce bottle is consumed each day.
A new study conducted at Boston University School of Medicine (released August 2007) shows that drinking as little as one can of soda -- regular or diet -- per day is associated with a 46 percent increased risk of metabolic syndrome which plays a major role in heart disease and diabetes. According to the study, other harmful side effects of soda, both diet and regular, include:
* A 31% greater risk of becoming obese.
* A 30% higher risk of having a larger waist line.
* A 25% higher risk of developing high blood triglycerides or high blood sugar.
* A 32% greater risk of having low levels of good cholesterol.
* A trend toward an increased risk of high blood pressure.
Over the long term, the effects of the acidity, sugars, artificial flavors and sweeteners, and such preservatives as E211 contained in soft drinks can be devastating to the body. It would take 32 glasses of water at an alkaline pH of 9 to neutralize the acid from just one 12 oz. cola or other soda. In response to ingesting a cola, apart from risking dehydration, the body will have to use up reserves of its own stored alkaline buffers, mainly calcium from the bones, teeth and DNA. This raises the body's alkalinity levels in order to maintain proper blood alkaline pH levels. Once these reserves are exhausted, your life is at risk. There are enough acids in one soda to kill you, if your body didn't possess a mechanism to neutralize them. How long it takes before your body succumbs to the acid attack and suffers an acidosis depends upon how soon your mineral buffers are depleted. Acidic blood levels are a leading cause of death!
Caffeine, which is a major component in most soft drinks, removes water from the body faster than the body can absorb it again, thereby generating constant thirst. People who frequently drink soft drinks are never really able to quench their thirst because their bodies continually and increasingly run out of cellular water. Some college students drink as many as 10-14 cans of cola a day. Eventually, they confuse their bodies' never-ending thirst signal with hunger and begin to overeat, causing swelling and excessive weight gain. Apart from its diuretic action and its addictive effects on the brain, regular caffeine intake overstimulates the heart muscles, causing exhaustion and heart disease.
Alcohol's diuretic effect on the body is similar to that of caffeine-containing beverages. For example, drinking one glass of beer results in the body forfeiting up to three glasses of water. As mentioned before, a hangover is the result of alcohol abuse, which causes the brain to suffer severe dehydration. If this occurs repeatedly, a large number of brain cells become damaged and die. As a result, many important brain functions slow down or become depressed. Recovery is possible to a certain extent if alcohol consumption is discontinued. To properly rehydrate the body, please carefully follow the directions in Drinking Water — The Greatest Therapy, Chapter 6 (of Timeless Secrets of Health and Rejuvenation).