Nearly 70% of the human body is made up of water. It is vital for our health and well-being and without it, the body can definitely start to break down.
The functions of water in our body
Water is the main medium in which all vital bodily processes take place. It creates a hydrated shell for macromolecular compounds (proteins and polysaccharides, for example) and contributes to their stability. Water itself is an active participant in our metabolism as well as the final product of some biochemical reactions. For example, as a result of tissue respiration, approximately 400 ml of water is generated a day.
One of the most important functions of water in our body is transportation. Water has a low viscosity and therefore easily moves through the vessels and intercellular space, carrying dissolved substances. In other words, without water, vitamins and minerals could not enter our cells to be metabolized.
Water also regulates our body temperature. This function protects the body from temperature changes like those we experience on a hot or cold day.
How much water does a person need?
In the body, two-thirds of water is found within the cells, while the rest is in the blood plasma, lymph and spinal fluid. A decrease of only 3-4% of water can cause intense thirst and a loss of 20-25% can lead to death!A healthy person should drink about 40ml of water per 1kg of weight. In other words, an adult needs an average of 2.5 litters of water per day. Demand can vary depending on environment (extreme temperatures) and activity levels.
- You’re engaging in physical labour or sports. A reference point in these cases is rapid breathing. The more you breathe or yawn, the more you should drink.
- You weigh more than 60 kilos. For each additional 20 kg, drink 1 more cup of water per day.
- You are in a hot and humid environment.
- You smoke or drink coffee or alcohol. Water helps flush out toxins.
- You have the flu or SARS. Want to recover faster? Drink water (just not cold!)
- You’re on medication. Some cause a loss of fluid that needs to be replaced.
- You are over 60 years old. As we age, the kidney’s function deteriorates, so water intake should be slightly increased.
- You are breastfeeding. Water is necessary for the production of breastmilk.
Water is released from the body mainly through the kidneys, but we also lose fluid through the skin, lungs and intestines. For example, when we exhale we lose about 0.4 litres of water a day!
Thirst and dehydration
Most people drink water when they are thirsty. This is a very common mistake. Thirst is analogous to an alarm going off in your body that water stores are dangerously low. It is the final warning before things start to go wrong. Therefore, you need to drink water regularly throughout the day BEFORE you feel thirsty. Avoiding thirst is a great way to keep hydrated.
What happens in the body when you are thirsty?
Thirst occurs when the amount of water in your body decreases by a couple of percentage points. A signal is sent to the brain that ultimately turns our thirst mechanism on. If you still do not drink enough water, however, the body has a very smart mechanism in place to stay well hydrated. What happens in this case? In addition to getting water from drinking, we can get water from our food supply. If you do not drink enough water, your body tells you that you are hungry instead of thirsty in order to get the right amount of water from food. Unfortunately, this causes you to overeat and ultimately to gain weight. When it comes to weight loss, this is why it is very important to drink your water instead of eating it.
- Decreased metabolism
- Decreased elimination of toxins
- Hinders proper functioning of the heart
- YIncreased risk of diabetes
- Muscle and joint pain
- Dry, brittle, hair, skin, and nails
Water needs increase if you exercise:
If you exercise, be sure to follow a proper drinking schedule. Drink half a litre of water before working-out. While exercising take small sips: 40-50 millilitres at a time and drink as much as you need after a workout.
Suffice it to say, water is VERY necessary for the proper functioning of the body. Do you want to lose weight? Cut out all those soft drinks, sugar-filled processed juices, and replace them with water. Drink consistently throughout the day and be mindful of how much you are drinking. In a lot of cases, simply drinking more water can help you to lose any unwanted weight.