Low Water Intake & Cholesterol

Server pouring water for woman
A server is pouring a woman a glass of water. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Frequent water consumption is essential for your survival as at least 70 percent of your body is comprised of the liquid. Low water intake quickly leads to dehydration, which causes the development of a variety of health problems. In response to dehydration, your body increases its production of cholesterol to keep cell membranes moist and pliable, which allows tissues to exchange nutrients for waste in an efficient manner. Low water consumption also reduces the volume and the flow-rate of your blood, which may increase the risk of cholesterol accumulating in your arteries.

Low Water Intake

Sixty-four ounces of water, divided into eight glasses of eight ounces evenly spaced throughout the day, is often recommended as a healthy level of daily hydration, but your individual needs will vary and depend on your size, metabolic rate, activity level and the temperature of your environment. According to the book “Human Metabolism: Functional Diversity and Integration,” it is important to realize that your thirst response doesn’t usually kick-in until you are already slightly dehydrated, so habitually drinking water every day regardless of thirst is the best strategy.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Symptoms of dehydration can occur quickly and take you by surprise. According to MayoClinic.com, initial symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth and lips, mild thirst, tiredness, reduced urine output, headache and dizziness, whereas severe symptoms include severe thirst, confusion, cramps, complete lack of sweat and urine, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing. A less obvious effect of dehydration is the change in how your body manages cholesterol.

Dehydration and Cholesterol Levels

Chronic dehydration may increase your circulating blood cholesterol levels as your body attempts to produce more and deposit it within cellular membranes to maintain pliability and to prevent further loss of water, according to the book “Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach”. According to a Canadian study published in a 1994 edition of the journal “Clinical and Investigative Medicine,” dehydration during fasting was found to increase total serum cholesterol levels, including HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and apolipoproteins A-1 and B. However, additional research is needed before claims can be made that drinking lots of water can lower blood cholesterol levels.

Dehydration and Low Blood Volume

Dehydration decreases blood volume, which impacts arterial pressure and blood flow. When extra cholesterol is released into your bloodstream due to dehydration, it has a greater chance of depositing on your arterial walls because of the reduced flow-rate. The cholesterol buildup can eventually harden into a plaque, leading to atherosclerosis and increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.

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