Water is life. The human body can withstand a couple of weeks without food but without water it is very hard to make it past a few days. Our bodies are made up of up to 70% water. Water is present in our blood, muscles, bones, fat and other vital organs. We lose a lot of water daily through urine, sweating, and breathing through our lungs. Statistically men hold more water in their bodies compared to women and as we age the body water content reduces. Exposure to hot weather can result in the loss of about 3 litres for heavy perspires and about 2.5 litres for people who do not perspire a lot. The elderly loose about two litres of water a day. Without water in our bodies it’s impossible to stay healthy and keep fit this is because water plays very many roles in our bodily functions and benefits as follows:
- It protects tissues and joints by keeping them moist, sensitive areas like the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth tend to get dry and may cause a lot of irritation and discomfort. The bones require lubrication during movement to avoid them wearing and tearing out due to friction, especially at the joints. Bloods needs to be liquid enough to be able to flow through the blood vessels to carry oxygen and nutrient to cells. All of these sensitive organs require the body to retain optimum levels of moisture so that they can be fully operational.
- Water helps in the elimination of waste from the body; processes like perspiration, defecation and urination eliminate a lot of water combined with waste products. Without adequate water intake it is difficult to flush out waste from your body, accumulation of these wastes may cause intoxication in the blood stream which is expressed in forms of boils and acnes.
- It also plays a great role in the digestion process, the fact that all bodily fluids are liquid translates that they require water; it helps them dissolve minerals and makes them more accessible and absorbable by the body.
- • It also helps in digestion of fibre since fibre easily dissolves in water and softens the stool making it easy to pass. Water aids in digestion preventing constipation and cystitis by ensuring the bladder stays clean from bacterial infection.
- Water prevents the body from becoming dehydrated, when we engage in exercises especially during the day when the temperatures are very high, our body looses a lot of water through perspiration.
- When we are sick and we develop diarrhoea or vomiting the body looses bodily fluids together with nutrients and mineral salts. Pregnant and lactating women also face the loss of a lot of fluid in their bodies, which is why we need to take at least 1.5 litres of water in a day to hydrate our bodies and keep our organs functional.
- Water keeps our skin texture smooth and prevents it from drying up and cracking. It moistens the mucous membranes inside the lungs and mouth. It distributes essential vitamins, minerals and glucose.
- Water plays a great role in the regulation of the body temperature, when the temperatures are very high, the water allows the body to release heat through sweating and as it does so the water on the surface of the skin evaporates and the body cools off. The body can extract up to 20% of the total water it requires from the food we eat no matter how dry or hard it looks. During the process of digestion, some of the digestive processes give out water as a by product and can account for around 10% of the water required by the body.
There is uncertainty as to how much water we should intake on a daily basis. This depends on the age and gender. Children from the age of 1-8 years should intake 4 to 5 cups of water daily. Those between 9 – 14 years old shout be taking 6 cups of water on a daily basis. Those from the age of 14-18 years should intake 7 to 8 cups of water daily. Adult women should take about 8 cups daily and men 10 cups daily. However people who reside in cold environments and those who consume foods with high contents of water such as fruits and vegetables can intake less amounts of water. Those people who are on a high protein or fibre diet, pregnant or lactating, cases of diarrhoea or vomiting require more water.