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How Dehydration Can Affect Immune Function

How Dehydration Can Affect Immune Function

To stay healthy, people have to take a variety of factors into consideration. There is more to overall health than eating right and exercising. Drinking enough water is a crucial component when it comes to all bodily systems running as they should. After all, the body is made up of over 60% water. When it comes to the immune system in particular, having enough water in your body is vital.

The immune system keeps the body safe from pathogens that can cause illness and chronic health conditions. When it is working as it should, the body’s defence system can keep you well protected against viruses, bacteria, and other types of threats. If the body does not get enough water, however, organs and other systems falter. When it comes to the immune system, being dehydrated can cause serious problems and decrease the system’s ability to do its main job.

What is dehydration?

Dehydration is the term used to describe an absence of the adequate amounts of water in the body. If your body is signaling that you need water by telling you that you're thirsty, it means you're already dehydrated. You don't have to lose a lot of water to be dehydrated. A loss of as little as 1.5% of the total amount of water in your body can lead to dehydration and the symptoms that go along with it.

When a person is dehydrated, they can experience unwanted symptoms such as a headache, fatigue, dizziness, light-headedness, low blood pressure with a high heart rate, chills, and dark-coloured urine. Dehydration can also affect your mental health and lead you to feel irritable, anxious, or confused.

The body can lose water in a variety of ways. The main way you become dehydrated is by not drinking enough water throughout the day. Other ways the body can lose too much water include excessive sweating, increased exercise, or symptoms of illness such as vomiting or diarrhea.


Image by Manki Kim on Unsplash: How does water affect the immune system?


Why is hydration important for the immune system?

The nutrients that we feed our body are vital when it comes to the immune system and its function. Vitamins and minerals are sent to various organs and other areas of the body through the bloodstream. The bloodstream is made up of mostly water, and if there isn't enough water in the body, that transportation system becomes hindered. The immune system also requires water to help rid the body of toxins and waste materials.

Water also plays a role in carrying oxygen throughout the body to each of the cells. When the cells don't have enough oxygen, they also can't function properly. By drinking enough water, you can give your body what it needs to fight off pathogens, help to remove toxins, and utilize oxygen in the cells.

Does drinking water improve the immune system? 

Drinking enough water can do wonders for the immune system. There are several key benefits that you get from drinking enough water. The first is oxygenating your blood and flushing out toxins. When the blood has enough water content, it can carry oxygen throughout the body and enter the cells that need it most. This will allow all your bodily systems to function as they should. Water also helps your kidneys remove toxins that may have built up in your body, and gives your cells the nutrients it needs to expel waste and keep everything running smoothly.

The lymph is a part of your body that circulates white blood cells, which are vital to immune function. The lymph carries water and nutrients to the blood and helps to transport white blood cells and other immune cells from the thymus and bone marrow to other areas of the body. If there is not enough water in the body, the lymph is unable to transport immune cells to areas they need to go to fight off pathogens.

Water also plays a large role in food digestion, and since nutrients are a vital component to a strong immune system, having enough water means that your body will be able to digest nutrients properly and therefore strengthen immunity.

One other benefit of being hydrated is keeping both the eyes and the mouth clean. It sounds strange, but if the eyes and mouth are moist, they are able to repel dirt, parasites, and other germs that could cause illness.


Image by Munro Studio on Unsplash: Drinking at least eight glasses of water per day can help keep you hydrated.


Does dehydration weaken the immune system?

Being dehydrated can cause many bodily systems to falter, including the immune system. Since water has such powerful benefits for immune health, being dehydrated can lead to an increased susceptibility to infections. Dehydration especially affects innate immunity, the type that everyone is born with. When the immune system becomes weakened due to lack of water, you may find yourself catching a cold more often, dealing with the symptoms for a lot longer than you normally would, or experiencing more severe symptoms than usual.

Water is a must if you want to stay as healthy as possible. It's recommended that we drink eight glasses of water per day to keep up with the needs of the immune system and the rest of the body.


Featured image by Andrew Ren on Unsplash

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