Even a small drop in hydration levels can massively affect people’s performance. Dehydration disturbs coordination which results in dizziness; can affect muscles, causing people to become weak; and cause damage to the heart. Therefore, the importance of staying hydrated cannot be underestimated.
It’s been well documented that a large portion of the population do not consume the recommended two litres of water per day. Drinking two litres of water – or eight cups – a day has long been thought of as one of the best ways to combat dehydration and stay healthy. But this guidance has actually had a negative effect on some people who have taken the idea too literally.
A number of weight loss products contain diuretics. The idea is that they help to minimise the amount of water in the body, and as a result, get rid of bloating and weight gain as a result of water. They encourage more frequent urination thanks to their key ingredients, including senna leaf, buchu leaves, apple cider vinegar caffeine, cascara sagrada, juniper berry and dandelion root, and are available in general shops, online and from pharmacies. Often marked as weight-loss aids, they essentially work by pulling excess salt and retained water from the body, which in turn makes people look slimmer.
Despite being widely available, diuretics as a weight loss aid have been under the microscope for quite some time. Looked at by experts as a nothing more than a fad, there is no evidence to suggest that these types of weight loss supplements actually help people to lose weight – instead they just rid the body of water. And for some, that has resulted in them becoming incredibly dehydrated – sometimes to dangerous levels due to stimulating the body’s elimination of fluid and electrolytes including sodium and potassium, needed for the body’s fluid balance.
As diuretics help to excrete the extra fluid, this facilitates the heart’s work. Excess use of diuretics can cause too much fluid to leave the body in the urine, which can result in dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration due to diuretics include decreasing amounts of urine despite becoming dehydrated, an increased thirst, dry lips and dry mucous membranes. After a longer period, the skin is also prone to becoming dry, sweating is likely to decrease, dizziness can occur and balance can be affected, before some are caused to lose consciousness. On the more severe end, dehydration can lead to damage of internal organs, primarily the kidneys, liver and brain.
Therefore, this two litres of water guidance is not worth its weight for some. The guideline is based on a minimum of two litres of water per day, and people are advised to judge for themselves on whether they need more due to external factors, such as strenuous exercise, illness, or importantly, if they are taking diuretics. And it’s important that if people decide to take these kinds of tablets, they know all the factors – including the symptoms of dehydration – and adjust their fluid intake accordingly in order to avoid serious health implications.
How much water do you drink?