Drinking water is essential to one's health. Plain water or water present in other fluids or foods is essential to replace the water lost through sweating, etc., throughout the day. Water is so essential to our bodies' survival that we have evolved a drought management system to prevent dehydration and ensure our survival. Water makes up more than 70% of our bodies.
Water constitutes around 50% to 75% of an average human body. An adult human body consists of 50% to 65% water, usually hovering between 57% to 60%. Babies have much higher water content, up to 75% to 78% water, dropping to 65% by the end of their first year.
As fatty tissue contains less water than lean tissue, water content in our bodies varies with age and gender.
- Average adult male contains around 60% water
- Average adult woman contains around 55% water as women naturally carry more fatty tissue than men
- Overweight individuals have less water than their leaner counterparts, due to more fatty tissues in their bodies
The water content in the body also depends on our level of hydration. The loss of just 2% to 3% of the water in our bodies makes us feel thirsty. Studies show that even a loss of 1% water content impairs our mental performance & physical coordination as the body becomes thirsty.
- Young women who lost around 1.36% water after exercising had impaired concentration and increased headaches.
- Among young men, a loss of 1.59% water content hindered working memory and heightened feelings of anxiety and fatigue.
Water is the main building block for cells in the human body- two- thirds of the water in the body is in the cells.
Dehydration Leads to Illness
Dehydration or failing to drink enough water regularly may lead to Chronic Cellular Dehydration. This is a serious condition where the body's cells are not hydrated enough, leading to a weakened immune system, and chemical, nutritional and pH imbalances causing the development of many diseases.
Some studies suggested that Dehydration could prompt headaches and migraines in some people, while drinking water could alleviate the severity & duration in others.
What Else Does It Do?
Water regulates internal body temperature and insulates the body. The body uses perspiration and respiration to regulate temperature. It metabolises proteins & carbohydrates, and is the main element in saliva that aids in swallowing food.
Water flushes waste and toxins from the body through urination.
While traditionally, we've been told to drink 8 glasses of water a day, newer research shows no evidence for this specific measurement. Health care professionals now say that any fluids, including juices, milk, coffee and tea are considered as part of our daily requirement for water. However, caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, and soft drinks may have a diuretic (causing body to lose water) effect.
Professionals advise those taking part in sports and outdoor activities to drink 4-6 ounces (around half a litre of water) for every 15-20 minutes of exercise.
Our bodies need more water when we:
- Suffer from Diarrhoea, Fever or other illnesses
- Are pregnant. Expecting mothers need ten glasses of water in a day. Even though some women may retain fluids and have swelling, they too need to drink water.
- Nursing- Mothers who breast-feed need to drink at least 13 cups of fluids every day. Any healthy drink that doesn't contain alcohol, caffeine, additives or preservatives will do.
Some healthcare professionals say dividing your body weight in half then dividing it by 8 gives you the ideal number of cups of water/fluids you should be drinking per day. This figure may vary depending on factors such as your age, gender, activities and the area you live in.