Water is one of the most underrated substances in the western world. Often taken for granted, its importance is paramount with it being the key to many species survival as well as covering approximately 65% of the earth's surface. Despite being surrounded, the irony is that drinking water is not one of our main priorities when we consider our health.
The human body is approximately 70% H2O with the kidneys being a vital organ that relies on the intake of water to perform. They might not be regarded as being as important as the heart or lungs, heck you can survive with just the one, however they provide one of the most important functions by keeping the body healthy and flushed of nasty toxins. The kidneys rely on water to function properly, and drinking enough H2O is essential.
Strenuous activities such as sports provide noticeable fluid loss through sweating, we all know this, but even urination and breathing expel water from the body. However it is these during everyday tasks, from the commute to work to sitting at your desk, that water is also lost and needs to be replaced. Ensuring that your body is regularly topped up with water is so important, and other similar beverages such as juice or milk can also be acceptable sources of water. Whilst keeping hydrated is so important, this doesn't include every type of fluid - fizzy drinks, beer, coffee and other caffeinated drinks should be avoided as they contain properties that remove water from the body. Although different lifestyles and body types require different amounts of water, there is a common recommended amount to be consumed across the board. It is suggested that intake for men is approximately 3 litres a day, and for women around 2.3 litres per day.
An important function of the kidneys is to remove waste products and excess fluids from the body. The management of potassium, salt and other acids by the kidneys is essential for various hormones in the body that control the performance of other organs. When we eat and nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream to be transported around the body, the blood also passes through the kidneys. During this process, the kidneys help to 'clean' the blood, filtering out any excess fluids, nutrients or waste products found there. These are then sent to the bladder and expelled through urine.
An excess of waste products in the body can lead to ulcers and bacteria build up. Drinking enough water helps the kidneys to function and dissolve these waste products effectively preventing any painful infections or kidney stones. In addition, dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than it takes in. It can lead to an imbalance in electrical signals, which may cause involuntary muscle actions and even nausea or lack of consciousness. Severe cases have even been said to result in kidney failure, heart failure and lasting damage to the body's nervous system.
- Carrying a bottle of water around with you means you have easy access to a drink whenever you feel dehydrated or thirsty. Adding fruit concentrates or even a wedge of lemon can help improve the taste without removing its value to the body, varying your diet and keeping you active in the process.
- Limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine that you consume - these beverages contain substances that can speed up the expelling of water from the body
- Know your body's limits when it comes to exercise, and drink water even when you don't necessarily feel thirsty.
Understanding the importance of water to the body is essential to keeping it healthy. Drinking enough water can sometimes even aid weight loss, by making those with unhealthy eating habits feel fuller for longer. Soon we will be raising a glass 'of water' to the improved health of the nation. So drink up!