Two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen (H2O), that’s water. Next to air, water is the most essential to our survival and without it, we would die in a few days. It is also one of the important constituents of a balance diet. Water as a vital nutrient has a diverse array of roles to offer, so having a planned out regimen guide for the regular intake of water is as important as a dietary scheduled regimen.
Water makes up more than two-thirds of human body weight. The human brain is made up of 95% water; blood is 82% and lungs 90%. As an important mechanic the body cannot carry out and sustain its normal functions without water, just as a car cannot run without gas and oil.
If the body’s water supply drops to even a mere 2% it may trigger signs of dehydration. When we become dehydrated the body instinctively begins to ration water to each organ but the brain being most important organ, gets the most water. The skin, being the least important, is rationed the least amount of water.
Functions of water
1. Water as universal solvent aids in digestion. Digestion starts with saliva which is basically water. Digestion relies on enzymes found in saliva to break down all foods, vitamins and minerals to be assimilated and utilized by the different cells and organs of the body. Water is also necessary to help digest soluble fiber which aids in bowel movement.
2. Water plays an important role in the transport of nutrient materials to the cells. After the foods are broken down in the digestive system they become water-soluble, which means they can be mixed with water and dissolved in it. The dissolved nutrients can then pass through the capillaries within the intestinal walls. The blood flowing in these walls will in turn pick up these tiny particles of nutrients and distribute them to the different cells of the body through the circulatory system.
3. Water also helps in the removal of waste materials from the body. Adequate water intake enables the body to excrete waste through urination, defecation and perspiration. Water does not only help the kidneys and liver flush out waste but also the intestines. Drinking enough water will also keep you from getting constipated by softening your stool and facilitating the smooth movement of the food you’ve eaten through your intestinal tract.
4. Water prevents you from dehydration. People who are active and engage in vigorous activities have a greater risk of becoming dehydrated especially during hot weather. It is highly recommended to drink water regularly during exercise, especially if it’s intense. We also get dehydrated when we come down with a fever or contract an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. But we can prevent dehydration by drinking water regularly during the day and increasing fluid intake when suffering from fever, vomiting or diarrhea.
5. Water helps regulate body temperature. Our health and well-being are dependent on keeping our body temperature within a very narrow range and water serves this function well. Water has the capacity to regulate the internal temperature of the body in response to the outside temperature. When the outside temperature is very high, water prevents overheating through sweating. When we sweat we release calories in the form of heat and this energy released decreases the internal temperature of the body thereby maintaining a stable body temperature.
6. Water also plays a key role in the prevention of diseases. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily can decrease the risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50% and can even potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer.
7. Water hydrates skin. The skin like any other part of the body is also made up of water. If your skin is not getting sufficient amount of water it will turn dry and flaky and is more prone to wrinkling.
How much water does the body need?
The daily requirement for the human body is 2 to 2.5 liters of water. But the consumption of food items with enriched moisture leads to the intake of 1 liter of water so the remaining 1.5 liters is taken care by drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily. However, it is important to note that factors such as individual weight, height, nature of activity and climatic variation should determine the specific need for water.
Not sure about your hydration level? Just take a look at your urine. You’re in good shape if it’s clear and probably dehydrated if dark.