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Not Drinking Enough Water? Science Says Your Respiratory System Will Suffer

Not Drinking Enough Water? Science Says Your Respiratory System Will Suffer

Water is our life force.  We all know that we should drink water regularly in order to maintain our overall health. And while the consumption of water is on the rise, it is only the second most popular drink – soft drinks still reign supreme.

Water and your respiratory system

Research has shown that dehydration vastly affects all of the systems in your body including your respiratory system. Drinking water helps to thin the mucus lining your airways and lungs. Dehydration can cause that mucus to thicken and get sticky, which slows down overall respiration and makes you more susceptible to illness, allergies and other respiratory problems.

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1. Dehydration makes it difficult to clear out mucus

When you don’t drink enough water, excessive mucus builds up and produces a plethora of side effects in your body. The mucus that forms in the back of your throat (although may be in your nose) triggers coughing, which is your body’s way of trying to expel it. Mucus buildup isn’t dangerous, but it is irritating. It can cause you to feel like you’re gagging or make breathing more difficult. Overproduction of mucus in the lungs occurs when the lungs become inflamed. The mucus that is created can become thick and sticky which quickly produces illnesses in the body and wreaks havoc on the respiratory system.

2. Dehydration can lead to chronic bronchitis

Bronchitis is caused by inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the lungs, which congests the airways and causes coughing. Bronchitis involves the loss of copious amounts  of water from the body. Those suffering with chronic bronchitis, most often deal with dehydration as well. A bronchitis diet should include lots of fluids and hydrating foods. These fluids also help the body to flush out toxins.

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3. Chronic dehydration can cause breathing problems

Dehydration causes some of the white cells to convert the amino acid histadine into histamine, which triggers allergic reactions. Once re-hydrated, these cells decrease their histamine production, and breathing symptoms dissipate. Water is used in the nasal passages, bronchial tubes, and lungs and to keep them moist. But when you breathe out, moisture from these tissues is expelled and every breath in brings in drying air. Under hydrated conditions water is rapidly replaced.

4. Dehydration can exacerbate asthma

Asthma is respiratory condition marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs which causes difficulty in breathing. It usually results from an allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity. When asthma occurs  a person’s airways become inflamed, narrow and swell, and produce extra mucus, making it difficult to breathe. Proper hydration keeps mucus thin, which reduces its ability to further constrict airways.

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5. Dehydration can trigger allergies

Allergies are caused by a histamine reaction in the body.  If you are allergic to pollen, your body views pollen as a danger and overreacts, causing your immune system to produce histamines to fight the irritants.

Histamines also have other functions, including regulating the body’s water supply.  A 1995 Dutch study confirmed that dehydration triggers histamine production as a defensive mechanism to preserve water remaining in the body as well as to prevent future loss. When we are dehydrated, histamine production increases and can cause us to have the symptoms of seasonal allergies such as runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. This accelerated histamine production to compensate for the body’s lack of water is easily avoided by simply drinking more.

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How to have proper hydration

Staying properly hydrated is one of the key components in maintaining a healthy respiratory system. These three healthy habits can increase hydration:

  • Drink a glass of water before each meal. This is a quick and easy way to increase your water intake. When you sit down to have a meal, down a glass of water (this will also help you consume less calories).
  • Eat foods with high water contents. Fruits and vegetables are a great way to increase your water intake. This also includes eating things like soups and drinking milk.
  • Carry your water with you. Research shows that when water is close at hand, consumption increases. Keep a bottle of water in your purse, your car and at your desk.

There is no formal recommendation for a daily amount of water people need. That amount obviously differs by what people eat, where they live. Your body will tell you when you are dehydrated, listen and take corrective action. A body well-hydrated with water just works more efficiently.

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Denise Hill

Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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