Most people are awed to hear that the human body is composed of 60 – 70% water. In fact, it’s been said that our brains are made up of over 80% water! No wonder the nutrition authorities say to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fresh water daily. We need water in our bodies more than we do food, that’s why the human body can go longer without food than it can this vital liquid.
Besides quenching our thirst, water does many other very important things. Take for example that water is the main ingredient in all of the processes needed to break down, digest and excrete our food. Without enough water in the system, a problem somewhere along the alimentary tract (in the digestive system) usually pops up. Problems can range from constipation to kidney stone formation.
Water helps to extract and distribute the necessary water soluble vitamins from food such as Vitamins B and C. It helps to pull out and deliver other important macro minerals like protein and carbohydrates as well. In essence, if you eat, you must have water in order to get any benefit out of food. Lucky for us, fruits and vegetables have a high water content that help to replenish our water needs.
Water is also important in all of the body’s joints, tissues and organs as it acts as a lubricating agent. Additionally, the water in our bodies helps to eliminate toxins that are produced during cellular metabolism. One other very important role that water plays in the human body is as a temperature regulator. It helps to ensure that we don’t overheat by releasing heat energy from the body via perspiration and evaporation. Water is also an essential player in transporting oxygen to all the cells of the body.
On a daily basis, we can lose up to a half gallon of water per day just in normal perspiration, urination and breathing (respiration) alone. For people who exercise or exert more energy, the amount of water loss increases. Therefore it is extremely important to continually replenish the body with water throughout the day, not just when you’re feeling thirsty.
If you live in a warmer climate, drink more water as you will sweat more than someone living in a cooler region. Summer months especially see a high number of dehydration cases, so be sure to hydrate when you are out and about in the summertime. Children are also prone to hydration as they tend to ignore their thirst cues when playing and having fun. Dehydration symptoms are easily recognized; confusion, dizziness, nausea and even vomiting.
It’s important to drink water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. In fact, when you are feeling thirsty it’s too late; you are already moving in the direction of dehydration. So maintain a good fluid intake and drink extra water when exercising or during hot weather.