Hypotension and Dehydration
It should come as no surprise that when you are dehydrated, there is a lack of blood volume which results in low blood pressure. Symptoms of hypotension include:
- Blurry vision
- Pale and clammy skin
An easy fix is to drink water – plain water.
Don’t fall into the trap of having coffee / tea / alcohol or soft drinks and assuming that will be okay.
Quite often, this may minimally address the hydration issue and actually raise your blood pressure.
Especially in the case of coffee, alcohol and soft drinks.
As an extra health bonus cutting out the sugary drinks and caffeine, you will also lower your sugar intake and lose a few kilos.
A common complaint is “but water tastes boring”.
I can’t admit to understanding that comment. It’s water. It’s supposed to be life-giving not setting off fireworks in your mouth.
Regardless, if you find that you suffer from “boring water syndrome” (not actually a real disease!) you can try some of the following ideas:
- Citrus wedges – cut lemons, limes or oranges into wedges and add to water
- Freeze fruit juices into ice cube trays and pop a couple into a glass of water. You’ll have a flavour hit without the full strength (and sugar) of juice
- Herbs – mint (especially crushed chocolate mint), lemon balm and even lavender are a pretty and healthy touch to waters. Considered a weak infusion they will impart flavour as well as their healing properties into the water.
- Vegetables – yes, vegetable water can taste quite nice. Cucumber is a great example of this!
Hypertension and Hydration
Drinking water is one of the cheapest and healthiest ways to lower blood pressure.
Chronic dehydration causes blood vessels to constrict.
The body will then try to conserve water to maintain blood pressure by reducing water loss through perspiration, urination, and respiration.
Unfortunately, constricted blood vessels will force cardiovascular tissues to work harder, resulting in high blood pressure.
But you can have too much of a good thing.
A study in 2014 revealed that “excess water intake increases blood pressure in healthy individuals” and that the underlying mechanism and the long term effects still need to be explored.”
This was further supported by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center which found that water can “increase the activity of the sympathetic nervous system” resulting in “raised alertness, blood pressure and energy expenditure”.
Similarly, a Red Cross study found that drinking 16 ounces (473ml) of water before blood donations resulted in a decrease of fainting by 20% .
So there appears to be a Golden Window of Water that is optimal for each person.
This will depend on your age, gender, weight, environment and overall physical fitness.
For example a 13 year old female student who spends most of her time in front of the computer is going to require less water than a 35 year old male construction worker who works outdoors.
As a general rule, aim for between 1.5 – 2 L a day of plain water and if possible, take daily blood pressure readings at the same time every day.
This will allow you to monitor your blood pressure and note any correlations with water intake.
The Great Water Debate
There’s a lot of contention between tap water, bottled water, boiled water and filtered water.
Each has their pros and cons, ranging from environmental concerns to cost and the impact on health.
Tap water is freely available, cost effective, environmentally friendly and in most Western countries is subject to constant scrutiny.
According to Stuart Khan, an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of NSW, tap water and bottled water are regulated differently.
Tap water (in Australia) needs to meet much more stringent quality criteria.
However, there have been serious health scares in the past and there was a great deal of press coverage highlighting pipe maintenance.
One must also consider the widespread use of chemicals to ensure water quality.
Boiled water is the result of boiling tap water – whilst this will ensure your water is free from micro-organisms such as harmful bacteria, it can impact taste.
Some people will often state that there is a stronger “metallic” taste to boiled water.
The logic behind that is this: mineral deposits in water do not easily evaporate at boiling temperature.
Rather, there is a certain amount of water that evaporates resulting in a higher ratio of water to mineral content.
The result is more minerals to less water accounting for a more metallic taste.
Filtered water is probably the best compromise. There are many good quality water filters available – from filters that fit onto taps to water containers that have inbuilt filters.
These allow water to be purified of chemicals and other nasties. There are some that are able to alkalise water and there are some filters that work by using pressure to push water through a semi-permeable membrane.
These are known as reverse osmosis filters and are the only filters known to remove fluoride.
Bottled water often claims to have better health benefits, however, there are unscrupulous companies.
Unfortunately, bottled water can be expensive and incredibly detrimental to the environment.