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Water - Who Needs It

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

The aging population today is most sensitive to health problems associated with water consumption, the reason being is that water primarily maintains the function of vital organs, and as we age our vital organs need water to maintain efficiency as this is reflected in the regulation of body temperature. To understand this point, Healthline.com reports that dehydration doesn't reduce heat loss, or increase body temperature in older adults during exercise as it does in younger adults, though this may seem beneficial, what it means is that when aging people exercise their bodies don't adjust to the rate of sweat loss to prevent further dehydration. This results in greater strain on the heart, shown by a more pronounced increase in heart rate, which can lead to complications in aging adults. This doesn't mean aging adults need to stop moving, but suggests taking precautions in warmer environments that could be a cause of increased mortality rates.

One thing we know for sure is that water regulates body temperature through the production of sweat, called perspiration. Sweating is the release of a salt-based fluid from your sweat glands. Hypohidrosis, or the absence of sweat can be dangerous because the risk of overheating increases. You can become dehydrated and have a higher than normal risk for heatstroke if you suffer from hypohidrosis, although, if you suffer with this your may already be dehydrated. Sweat is made mostly of water, however, Healthline reports that about one percent of sweat is a combination of salt and fat.

Healthline further reports that researchers suggest that reduced sensitivity in aging populations due to elevated blood osmolality (concentration of salt) could explain that blunted effect of dehydration on hearing loss and body temperature regulation during exercise in greater heat. We've already been informed that dehydration impacts both Eustachian tube dysfunction, and is associated with Tinnitus symptoms. More importantly, the regulation of body temperature in older adults is not influenced by the increase of salt in the blood, this less than efficient body temperature regulation contributes to increased risk of heat exhaustion, stroke, and adverse heart problems. Perhaps it's important to note here that dehydration can cause blood pressure to drop, however, it doesn't always cause low blood pressure.

Although fever, vomiting, severe diarrhea, overuse of diuretics, and strenuous exercise can lead to dehydration; hypertension, or high blood pressure is common in people who are chronically dehydrated. When the body's cells lack water, the brain sends a signal to the pituitary gland to secrete vasopressin, a chemical that causes the constriction of blood vessels. This causes blood pressure to increase which leads to hypertension. One sure way to control hypotension, and hypertension is to prevent dehydration by increasing blood volume with fluid intake. Fluid to consider includes increasing mineral salts by drinking mineralized non-fluoridated water. Some companies add mineral salts to water, which increases sodium levels for people with high blood pressure. In this case, the best form of water is natural with mineral salts of proportional content that include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonate, iron, and zinc, or as directed by a physician.

Facts to be aware of about the aging process is that the thirst centre located in the hypothalamus reduces efficiency, so the brain doesn't always give the signal that we need to drink. A probable cause of this hypothalamus inactivity in human populations is indicated by research reported through the National Library of Medicine in their study of the effect of fluoride on the hypothalamus published January 2010. This study concludes that fluoride could change hormone levels of each layer of the hypothalamus which reveals reproductive endocrine disturbing effects, and that the reproductive endocrine disturbing effects in men maybe more severe than those in women. The way the hypothalamus works is that it links the nervous and endocrine systems by way of the pituitary gland. Its function is to secrete releasing hormones and inhibiting hormones that stimulate or inhibit production of hormones in the anterior pituitary. When the body gets low on water, the hypothalamus increases the synthesis of an antidiuretic hormone, vasopressin (a hormone that causes the blood vessels to constrict), this hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland which follows through to the kidneys.

Drinking caffeinated beverages can be like playing Russian Roulette for aging as some researchers believe caffeine could block a hormone that helps keep the arteries widened, as well as caffeine causes the adrenal glands to release more adrenaline which creates multiple effects, including increasing breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose through the conversion of glycogen to glucose in the liver cells. The adrenal glands produce cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine, these are chemicals called excitatory hormones, or neurotransmitters that get our bodies ready for dangerous situations that help you respond to stress by opening the arteries, and increasing blood flow, in contrast vasopressin can cause blood vessels supplying blood to the brain to narrow as much as 27%, after drinking a caffeinated beverage, which can slow down our ability to think and perform mental tasks. For people with low blood pressure, drinking caffeine can temporarily elevate blood pressure, however the catch is that caffeine is a diuretic, which means that increased urine output leads to loss of mineral salts. People who drink coffee that is processed at very high temperatures are at a greater risk of heart disease, as caffeine has been shown to make arteries stiff which contributes to hardening of the arteries as we age.

Water in its natural form is the fountain of youth overlooked by many. It is the magical substance that promotes longevity as our body consists of sixty percent water. Youthfulness and health may go hand in hand for those who choose a dietary regimen that includes 11.5 cups of water for women, and 15.5 cups of water for men, or as recommended by the Mayo Clinic on Healthline.com. Although Mayo Clinic's report is above the normal recommended amount of 8 cups a day suggested by most physicians, 8 cups then must be the new minimum for health and wellness minded individuals. Keep in mind the needs of each individual body is different, one must grow to be aware of how much water is necessary for efficient performance of their own body. Be wise, be aware.


References:

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/as-you-get-older-you-need-to-drink-more-water-heres-why


Kahn, April. "What To Know About Dehydration": https://www.healthline.com/health/dehydration March 5, 2019.



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