The Importance of Water

 

Drink water to stay healthy

 

There is a lot of talk about water and how necessary it is to maintain life and health. ?An adult?s body contains about 70% water. It is a major part of every cell, tissue and organ. It is crucial in almost all body functions and without it we would die very quickly.

What does water do in our body?

? Maintains body temperature ? it takes a lot of energy to raise or lower the temperature of water so the body is able to maintain a relatively stable temperature.

? Cools the body ? during exercise, illness or on a hot day, body temperature often rises which triggers sweat production. The sweat evaporates off the skin which cools the body.

? Balances electrolytes ? every cell needs a certain balance of electrolytes (ions that conduct electrical currents), as do extracellular fluids. The body maintains its electrolyte balance by excreting water and triggering thirst as necessary.

? Provides body fluids ? blood is mostly water. Muscles, lungs and brains all contain a lot of water. Water is a major part of synovial fluid (the lubricant that protects joints and allows them to move easily), amniotic fluid (that protects unborn babies), mucous, tears and saliva.

? Maintains pH levels ? carbon dioxide reacts with water, making carbonic acid, which then detaches to make hydrogen and bicarbonate which increases the body?s acidity and lowers the body?s pH ? a very finely balanced thing!

? Gives cells their shape and stability.

? Transports oxygen and nutrients through the blood.

? Help elimination of waste through urine and faeces.

Dehydration

You lose water through breathing, sweating, urination, bowel movements and so on. You lose more when you?re active or unwell. Some medications, alcohol, caffeine etc may increase your water loss. Other causes include, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, burns and diabetes.

Headache from dehydration

Dehydration can cause headaches

Mild dehydration can cause headaches, chronic pains in joints and muscles, lower back pain, constipation and a plethora of other symptoms of being ?unwell?.

The first sign that you are dehydrated is thirst, along with decreased urine output ? your body is trying to save water. The urine gets more yellow in colour and more symptoms emerge:

? Dry mouth

? No tears

? Sweating stops

? Muscle cramps

? Nausea and vomiting

? Heart palpitations

? Light headedness

? Weakness

With severe dehydration, confusion and weakness occur as the brain and other organs receive less blood. Finally, coma, organ failure and death occur if the dehydration is untreated.

Children are at a much higher risk than adults of dehydration because their temperature regulation and sweat mechanisms are not fully developed. They also tend to have diarrhoea and vomiting more often. Their symptoms escalate much more quickly than an adult?s, so quick intervention is crucial.

How much water should I drink?

Most people should have between 2-3 litres every day, depending on health, exercise, altitude and environment.

Generally, if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. ?A quick way to check your hydration level is to pinch the skin on the back of your hand – if it stays raised or returns to flat slowly, you need water.

Checking your urine is also a good indicator of whether you need to drink more ? pale straw colour means you are probably OK. Dark yellow/orange colour means you definitely need to drink more. Pink means you probably had beetroot recently! (Some medications will change the colour of your urine.)

Other Sources

Healthy sandwich

Food has water in it too!

Remember, as well as drinking water, a lot of the foods we eat contain high amounts of water. Fresh fruits and vegetables are an obvious source. Teas, coffees and other beverages also contain water, although some of the other ingredients aren?t so desirable!

Even less obvious foods contain water ? bread, meat, cheese and nuts all contain water too. A turkey salad sandwich with cranberry sauce could contain up to half a cup of water!

How to maintain good fluid levels

? Have a glass of water when you first wake up ? it will help to get things moving and to rehydrate after sleep (especially if you snore!).

? Make sure you have regular drinks throughout the day. Be aware of the extra things you may be consuming (caffeine, sugar, colourings, etc)

? Keep a bottle of water in your bag ? and remember to drink it!

? Make it a habit to have a glass of water with every meal.

? Increase fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet ? good for everything as well as water!

Remember ? if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

PS – WHY DOES MY MASSAGE THERAPIST ALWAYS TELL ME TO DRINK WATER AFTER A TREATMENT?

Massage therapists tell you to drink water after a massage for many reasons:

? They are reminding you to keep hydrated because your body needs enough water to function properly.

? Massage stimulates circulation and the lymphatic system and can dehydrate the body, much the same way as exercise does.

? ?You will frequently feel thirsty after a massage.

? After a massage, many people feel a bit disoriented or ?spacey?. While the relaxation and euphoria is wonderful, you need to come back to earth and the present time before going outside and getting on with your day. A drink of water is a wonderful and practical way to reconnect with the outside world.