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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

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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