Water is the most important nutrient for our body. On average, the human body is 60% water by weight. For example, a 70kg man is made up of around 40 litres of water, while a 55kg female is made up of around 27.5 litres.
Water plays an essential role in healthy body function, which include:
*Helps your body to absorb nutrients and to carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells, helps to convert food into energy and assists in removing waste from our body.
*A means of transport for hormones, chemical messengers, and nutrients to vital organs of the body.
*A major component of blood, plasma, lymph, urine and gastric secretions, helping your cells get all of the oxygen they need to function and allows them to expel toxins and waste products.
*Supports lubrication for your eyes and joints; aiding the production of synovial fluid, allowing bones to move freely against each other and reducing inflammation.
*Helps to maintain core body temperature (thermoregulation) as it is able to absorb a high amount of heat before increasing in temperature and is used as a cooling mechanism through perspiration. Sweat is the main means by which water prevents your body from overheating when the temperature outside is very high, by cooling and maintaining body temperature. So on a hot day, you will need to increase your water intake to not only replenish water lost in perspiration but also to support temperature regulation in your body, which requires adequate hydration.
*Provides structural firmness. Beneath the uppermost layer of the skin; epidermis, lays the dermis. The dermis is made up of 60-80% water and provides firmness and elasticity to the skin.
*Provides a moist internal environment, which is crucial for all living cells.
*Necessary for the utilisation of water soluble vitamins.
Maintaining good hydration supports overall health: aiding digestion circulation absorption and excretion
Dehydration is as a result of inadequate body fluids. The body cannot function efficiently without sufficient water; dehydration can impair every bodily function, and can lead to potentially fatal complications, such as blood clots and seizures.
Some common symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration are as follows:
*Impaired concentration and alertness
*Muscle fatigue or pain
If severe dehydration is suspected, immediate medical attention is required. Symptoms include:
*Not passing urine for eight hours
*Dark brown urine
These various signals of water shortages of the body are attempts by the body to increase water intake and decrease water loss.
There are population groups who are at particular risk; *Athletes – Large amounts of body fluid can be lost through sweat when exercising for long periods. *Children – Due to their smaller size and their metabolism, which uses up water more quickly, children can be sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss. *Elderly – The thirst sensation gradually reduces with age. Prescription drugs and medicines can affect water balance. Reduced physical function and/or mental decline can result in difficulty keeping hydrated or with reaching the toilet on time *Pregnancy – More water is required during pregnancy as water helps to form the placenta and the amniotic sac during pregnancy and is essential for the healthful development of the baby.
For the minimum amount of water you need, a general rule is 1/2 oz of water daily for each pound of body weight. In metric measurements that equates to approx 33ml of water per kg of body weight. For example: A 60kg woman needs to drink approx. 1980ml of water a day – 60×33 = 1980. (approx. 8x 8oz glasses throughout the day) and a 76kg man needs to drink approx. 2500ml of water – 76×33 = (approx. 10x 8oz glasses throughout the day). When exercising, you will need to drink more water to replenish water lost in sweat.
However, water intake varies from person to person depending on different factors, such as body size, age, activity level, climate, medical conditions and so on.
If you are not accustomed to drinking water, start slowly and gradually increase intake over time. Don’t drink too much all at once, drink water throughout the day, and let your body be your guide!
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