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Without water, the body will shut down its need to ingest food

(December 17, 2002) Bethesda, MD According to the United Nations, 14 African countries now face water scarcity or water stress. By the year 2025, experts agree that eleven more countries will join the list and half the world will live with water stress.

The consequences of water drought can be terrible a loss of livestock and crops can lead to overall starvation of a nation's population. International relief agencies may respond with necessary food supplies. But their largesse in offering food may be for naught, for a new study suggests that without water, the body's physiology will cause the body to involuntarily reduce feeding, leading to dehydration or anorexia. The findings suggest that deprivation is mediated by a sensor located in either the gastrointestinal tract or in the mesenteric veins draining the gut. In the absence of drinking water, signals from this sensor provoke the early termination of a meal.

The authors of the study, "Reduced Feeding During Water Deprivation Depends on Hydration of the Gut," are Guus H. M. Schoorlemmer and Mark D. Evered, both in the Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. Their findings are published in the November 2002 edition of the American Journal of Physiology Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, a publication of the American Physiological Society (APS).

Background

Humans join rats, dogs, cows, camels, and other mammals in reducing food intake during water deprivation. This inhibition of eating assists body fluid regulation in two ways. First, there is normally a large volume of osmotically sequestered water in the gut. Inhibition of feeding allows absorption of this water. Second, the reduced solute load or dissolution of food reduces urinary water loss.

There are several ways in which water deprivation might inhibit food intake. First, drinking is normally associated with eating and disrupting that patter
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
17-Dec-2002


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