THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER
Water makes up about the same percentage of our bodies as it does of our planet 70%. And, since our bodies are continually using water, a conscious effort to maintain hydration by replacing lost water is vitally important.
Because water is needed for virtually every biological process, chemical reaction and mechanical action that takes place in the body, it is crucial to mental and physical performance. As a major component of the blood, water is the delivery system that gets oxygen to each cell of the body. Within the lymphatic system, water carries away waste products as well. It ionizes salts, producing electrolytes necessary for electrical activity across the cell membranes. It enables us to move our joints and digest our food. Water is essential for the proper use of protein in the body and for the development of the nerve network during learning.
Even mild dehydration can lead to constipation, headaches, lethargy and mental confusion, while increasing the risk of urinary tract infections and kidney stones.
Morning sickness in pregnant women indicates that they and the foetus are dehydrated.
With just 1% of body fluids lost body temperature goes up and concentration becomes difficult. The thirst mechanism kicks in when we’ve lost between 1 – 2% of body water. However this thirst mechanism is often mistaken for hunger – if we ignore it or mistake it for hunger dehydration can continue to around 3%, where it seriously affects both mental and physical performance
There are many other health problems resulting from chronic low-level dehydration including:
i) Gastric ulcers water is needed for the mucosal lining of your stomach and digestive system to protect it from your digestive juices.
ii) Joint pain the discs and cartilage cushioning joints are dependent on their water content for proper functioning
iii) Asthma & allergies concentrated blood reaching the lungs results in increased production of histamine.
These are just a few of the conditions caused by dehydration, there are many more.
Therefore our minimal water intake from food and drinks should be at least 1 litre ideally 2 litres per day. Fruit and vegetables are around 90% water in a form that is easy for the body to use as well as providing vitamins and minerals. 4 pieces of fruit and 4 portions of vegetables will provide approx 1 litre of water, and 1 litre from water, diluted juices herb or fruit teas. Alcohol is very dehydrating plus it also robs the body of vitamin and minerals.
Drinks with caffeine, tea and coffee can dehydrate the body but if you are regular drinkers of tea or coffee the effect is less as the body gets used to it, but, caffeine is a stimulant and adrenaline is released into our system, that’s why we feel refreshed energised, too much adrenaline in our system creates other problems.
Tea, coffee, sugary drinks and juice all disrupt your blood sugar balance; tea, coffee and cola rob the body of minerals; sugary drinks (including some juice drinks) provide calories but few nutrients, hindering optimal nutrient uptake, as well as causing too high concentrations of glucose in the blood. If you have a diet high in carbohydrates and highly processed foods they require a lot of water to be digested and can increase dehydration.
Most people wait until they feel thirsty before drinking water, but thirst lags far behind the body’s water needs. If, for instance, you carry out an exercise program and you rely solely on thirst to remind you to replenish water, it may take your body a full 24 hours after each workout to return to proper hydration levels. Sport nutritionist have found that a 3% loss of body water results in 8% loss in muscle strength.
The thirst signal can be lost and needs to be switched on; this is especially prevalent in the elderly. Even when you sit and read your body is maintaining a constant, light perspiration, and stress or more strenuous activities increase the amount of perspiration lost. You even lose water (in the form of vapour) every time you exhale! If you live in the typical home or office your using still more water, since air-conditioned or heated air robs our body of its normal hydration. On a typical day, 2.5 to 3 litres of water are lost by the body. If you exercise for an hour, that could add up to another litre.
If you suffer from any of the following symptoms it indicates that dehydration is a possible cause.
- Are you prone to constipation?
- Are you often thirsty?
- Do you have joint problems?
- Do you feel tired?
- Are you having problems concentrating?
- Are you overheating?
- Do you have dry skin, mouth or lips?
- Do you get frequent infections?
- Do you have dry, brittle hair?
We need a minimum of 6 – 8 250ml glasses of water per day.
Thirst can indicate 3 things:
1) Your body needs more water.
2) Diabetics or borderline diabetes – these people are often thirsty as their body wants to dilute the glucose in the blood, which can be toxic to cells. This is why sweet drinks make you want to drink more.
3) Essential fat deficiency – many people especially children are deficient in essential fats found in fish and seeds and their oils. Without the right fats, cells cannot maintain their right water balance.
This is a tiny overview of issues around the importance of water.
You can see why we all need to take frequent sips of good-quality water throughout the course of each day. There is no simpler or more natural way to feel better and function better.
Linda Hornsby Hornsby Clinic
To contact Linda about this or her Amatsu Japanese Osteopathy treatments call: 07786 657914
Please mention Beehive when you call.
Some of this information has come from the following publications.
The Bodies many cries for Water by Dr F Batmanghelidj
Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford