22 . July . 2019 BY Dr. Sharmishtha Deshpande

Water. Our lifeline. We all know deep down how important water is for us, for our health and well being. But how many of us keep track of how much water we drink every day? How do we know if it’s adequate?

Perhaps if we understood clearly how the lack of water, rather the insufficiency of it, can affect us, we would get those 8-10 glasses of water in?!

Dehydration can have a massive negative impact on our body. Apart from it being key to our overall wellness, the health of our hair and skin have a lot to do with water intake.

Now specifically, did you know that drinking inadequate water can have a direct impact on your Hair?
Dehydration can lead to hair becoming dry, frizzy, develop split ends, breaking easily and stopping to grow!

Today, we will break this subject down to understand how water impacts your hair’s health. We will look at how dehydration can actually trigger hair loss and why it is so important that you keep yourself hydrated.

What is dehydration?

Simply put, dehydration happens when more water and fluids leave our body than enter it. It is the condition in which more water is moving out of our cells than what we take in through drinking.

2/3rd of the human body is composed of water, which helps in multiple functions such as digestion, removing out wastes and toxins from the body, secretion of saliva, tears, lubrication of the joints and eyes. It is essential for healthy skin, hair and nails. When you get dehydrated, the water content in the blood begins to decline, resulting in an imbalance in the levels of minerals, salts and sugars.

On a day-to-day basis, our body loses water and fluids through natural processes. What we need to ensure is that we replace this lost quantity of water constantly.

What causes dehydration?

As simple or silly as it sounds, many of us ‘forget’ to drink enough water thanks to busy schedules. We don’t realise we are thirsty! And sometimes, we don’t feel like drinking water because of a sore throat or mouth sores or feeling sick in the stomach! Whatever the reason, we need to remind ourselves the impact dehydration can have, and buck up! Set those water alarms on phones if need be!

The main cause of dehydration is the inadequate intake of fluids to replace what’s been lost. Other factors can include climate, physical activity and diet. Dehydration is also caused by illnesses that may cause fluid loss such as persistent diarrhoea and vomiting.

Elderly people are at greater risk as they don’t drink a lot of water or fluids. People who are diabetic or who suffer from alcoholism are at a greater risk of dehydration. Athletes too can be affected due to profuse sweating. Dehydration is also very common in people who are perpatually in an air-conditioned environment and in the aviation industry.

Having pointed out these specific cases, let us remind you that dehydration is something that can hit any of us, adults, children, teenagers…anyone!… if we don’t take due care.

How does dehydration affect Hair?

Hair is an important part of our body, along with skin and nails. Hair roots are situated inside the scalp so it requires proper nutrition to survive. Water is a key nutrient for the body and hair.

Hair needs lubrication inside and out. Water hydrates our body, regulates our circulatory system and lubricates our hair follicles. (Water is the key source of minerals which are the most important nutrients for hair.) This, in turn, stimulates hair growth.

If there is an insufficient supply of water to the follicles, it will result in hair becoming dull, lifeless, dry, rough brittle and break easily. Thus, one of the main side effects of dehydration on hair is hair loss ultimately. Let us understand this further.

Hair Loss due to dehydration

Hair is the second-fastest-growing organ after bone marrow. It has a 4 to 6-year life span. It has its own life cycle – grows, rests and then falls. Hair fall can happen in two ways, either by shedding or in breakages. Hair sheds from the roots and it breaks off anywhere along the hair strand. Dehydration can cause this shedding and breakage at an accelerated pace, which can affect the length and thickness of the hair.

Each hair shaft is made up of ¼ of water and when the person doesn’t drink enough the water, it causes the shaft to become weak and fragile. It leads to split ends and breakages. And as mentioned above, eventually, hair loss.

If your water intake is grossly insufficient, you will notice entire hair strands coming out even on the slightest touch. You will practically notice the white tip at the base of the hair.

When a person is suffering from dehydration, the amount of water that reaches the hair root is extremely minimal. The body will try to supply more water to vital parts of the body, such as the brain and heart. This leads to excessive shedding because the hair is dying from thirst and there is a slowdown of hair growth because the roots aren’t moisturized enough to stimulate new hair growth.

Because of dehydration, the circulation in the scalp is decreased, with hardly any water reaching into the hair roots. Even if the body tries to save the water, exposure to sun, chemicals and wind will take away vital water further from the hair. Hair then becomes dry from inside out. Hair loss seems sudden and drastic. If unattended, this can eventually lead to balding.

Signs that you are dehydrated

We lose water on a daily basis, it happens through sweat, urine, stool. If that water is not replaced, the body starts to dehydrate.

Some of the early warning signs of dehydration are the frequent feeling of dry-mouth, occasional dizziness or light-headedness, muscle weakness, frequent headaches and fatigue. As the condition worsens, the hair and skin will start to dry out and major complications of health can be expected.

As regards Hair specifically, as mentioned above, Hair, when not hydrated enough, will become dry and very brittle, prone to split ends and breakages.

Water for Hair’s health!

The health of your hair is hugely dependent on water.

Hair has two parts. The root which is situated inside the scalp and the shaft which is the outside portion of hair. Water hydrates the entire hair strand from the inside. It is the main source of energy for hair cells, including the cells that generate new hair growth. Further, water removes all the toxins and pollutants, which can cause hair loss. Dryness of scalp skin along with shrinkage is seen when there is no proper hydration. This can only be restored by drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day and consuming water rich foods. Dehydration halts hair growth.

Water hydrates the hair cells, makes them work the way they are supposed to and this helps your hair grow long and strong. Not just that, it stays in place too. And with hydration, you help keep away hair loss. Staying hydrated thus has huge hair benefits.

Some other benefits of water, which would help with the overall maintenance of good health: controlling those calories, help energise the body, help with healthy skin and healthy kidneys! Let’s not forget, healthier body – healthier hair!

Further! We have spoken largely about the consumption of water and it nourishing hair from within. Water plays as much of a role from the outside as well! Did you know? Hair absorbs approximately 30% of its weight in water? So when your wash, it is absorbing about 30% of its weight in the water you have exposed it to! So! Water from within and from out – give your hair the best access, helping it grow and stay its best!

Remember, your Hair is your body’s barometer! If you are dehydrated, your body signals out first through your hair! Do take notice and correct yourself before it’s too late.

Tips to keep yourself hydrated

Ideally one should have half a litre of water for every 10kgs of body weight which means that if you weigh 60 kgs then you should have 3 litres of water on a daily basis.

Water can be consumed in different forms. Apart from drinking water, you could lock in fluids through various other sources like coconut water, yoghurt, cottage cheese/ paneer, fresh fruits and vegetables. These are water-rich items, packed with multiple vitamins and nutrients that can ensure your body stays well hydrated.

Fruits with high water content such as apricots, blueberries, oranges, grapes, strawberries, peaches, pineapples, plums and raspberries can be consumed. They contain over eighty per cent of water. Melons such as cantaloupe, muskmelon and watermelon have some of the highest water content, at more than 90 per cent. Vegetables such as cucumber, cellary, tomatoes, spinach, bell peppers, cauliflowers, cabbage, zucchini and lettuce have high water content as well.

As long as you’re eating plenty of these water-rich foods (which are incidentally also some of our most recommended Hair foods!) and drinking water whenever you feel thirsty, you won’t face a dehydration problem and be bestowed with healthy hair!

You may use the best of hair products, take vitamin supplements… but if your water intake is inadequate you will not see the results you wish for.

Consult a professional trichologist who’ll guide you through the diet and lifestyle that is best for you, suitable hydrotherapy treatments, ensuring that you avoid concerns of dehydration and hair loss. Periodic check-ups help keep a tab on your hair’s health and well being.

Being confronted with the problem of hair loss is not a choice, but providing a permanent solution for it is indeed a choice – your choice.

With that, we sign off for now! For all things ‘Hair’, do follow our blogs on hair loss, hair care, treatments and solutions and interesting hair trivia!
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