When many of us think of water, we rarely ever think of it as an essential nutrient.
Waters embodiment of life is often overlooked, this could be down to the ubiquitous nature of water, but for whatever reason, drinking enough of it daily is not something many of us readily think about.
In this article we are going to be looking at 10 of some of the most crucial functions water performs in helping us maintain a healthy body and mind.
Water is essential for life because it helps regulate body temperature, maintain blood volume, flush toxins from the body (via urine), and transport nutrients inside the body. An adult’s body is about 55% to 60% water; in children and babies, the percentage is even higher. A lack of water intake, or increased water loss (such as through sweating), results in dehydration, which can be dangerous and even fatal.
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (8 fluid ounces or 237g) of tap water:
Skin is an organ. It’s the largest organ in our body, and it’s mostly made up of water.
Without water, skin can’t function properly. If our skin doesn’t get enough water, not only will it become dry, tight, and flaky, but it will also become even more prone to signs of aging e.g. wrinkles.
It’s easy to see the visible difference that hydration can make for the skin.
Because water can absorb and transfer heat well, the human body uses it to stabilise temperature. Water can absorb a lot of heat before its temperature rises. This allows the water in every cell of the human body to protect it the body temperature changes.
Water that is stored in the middle layers of the skin comes to the skin’s surface as sweat when the body heats up. As it evaporates, it cools the body.
The bowel needs water to work properly. Dehydration can lead to digestive problems, constipation, and an overly acidic stomach. This increases the risk of heartburn and stomach ulcers.
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of chronic constipation. The food you eat makes its way from your stomach to the large intestine, or colon. If you don’t have enough water in your body already, the large intestine soaks up water from your food waste. This makes you have hard stools that are difficult to pass.
A lack of water can cause blood to become thicker, increasing blood pressure.
Although more research is needed, it’s still worth noting that dehydration can lead to an increase in blood pressure due to the action of a hormone called vasopressin.
Vasopressin is secreted when there’s a high amount of solutes (or sodium level) in your blood, or when your blood volume is low. Both of these things can happen when you lose too much fluid.
In response, when you’re dehydrated, your kidneys reabsorb water as opposed to passing it in urine. High concentrations of vasopressin can also cause your blood vessels to constrict. This can lead to an increase in blood pressure.
Fluid loss due to physical activity is a normal occurrence people experience. Without replacement this fluid loss can lead to a state of dehydration. Research suggests that dehydration has a detrimental effect on physical performance, with the potential exception of activities lasting less than 15 s.
Blood is more than 90 percent water, and blood carries oxygen to different parts of the body.
Dehydration can affect brain structure and function. It is also involved in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. Prolonged dehydration can lead to problems with thinking and reasoning.
The kidneys regulate fluid in the body. Insufficient water can lead to kidney stones and other problems.
If the kidneys do not function properly, waste products and excess fluid can build up inside the body.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common type of infection in the body. Drinking plenty of water is a simple way to reduce the risk of developing a UTI and to help treat an existing UTI.
Dehydration happens if we use and lose more water than the body takes in. It can lead to an imbalance in the body’s electrolytes.
In severe cases, dehydration can lead to kidney failure, which can be life-threatening. Possible complications of chronic kidney failure include anemia, damage to the central nervous system, heart failure, and a compromised immune system.
Additionally, drinking water can actually make your muscles stronger. Water carries oxygen to the cells of your body, including those of your muscles. Being well hydrated enables your muscles to work longer and harder before they feel tired, and this will help you build muscle.
Water is extremely important to the joints. Synovial fluid contains water; if you become dehydrated, less synovial fluid is available to protect the joints.
This is dangerous to a bodybuilder since they sweat (lose fluids) and put great stresses on their joints through intense workouts.
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