Life as we know it cannot exist without water. Every biochemical reaction in our cells depends on water. Water is needed to maintain cell structures, enable protein production, and enables all our enzymes to function. It facilitates the flow of nutrients into cells and allows waste to flow out. Every available space in and between cells in the body is aqueous.
The human body is made up of about 70-75% water. It requires water for proper digestion, transport of nutrients, nutrient metabolism, and elimination of toxins. The brain itself is made up of about 85% water, which it requires for proper cognitive function and memory. The body also uses water to maintain cardiac output, heart rate and blood pressure.
We lose water regularly as we breathe, when we sweat, and when we urinate or have a bowel movement. When you feel thirsty, you are generally already at 1 or 2% mild dehydration. Even 1 or 2 % loss of water can impair physiology and performance, so it’s important to ensure regular water intake.
Long-term Hazards of Not Drinking Enough Water
Think of the last time you might have had a headache, felt unexplainably tired, or had no appetite for no apparent reason. At the same time, you might have also felt light headed, had flushed skin, or had dry mouth and eyes. Did you notice your urine was a little darker or had a strong odor? All of these are early signs of mild or moderate dehydration.
You may become mildly or moderately dehydrated simply because of you are not drinking enough water, from lack of thirst or not liking the flavor of your water. Mild dehydration can also result from exercise or heat, which produce sweating, or chronic consumption of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages such as tea, coffee, wine or beer, which can act as diuretics and influence hormones that dehydrate body tissues and the brain.
When the signs of mild dehydration occur, many people ignore them. They often overlook the role of water for optimal health. The body may go on suffering—suffering for what can simply be solved by a tall glass of plain water. Chronic mild dehydration can have long-term consequences, many of which are not yet entirely understood. What is known is that because water is vital for all cells and organs to function properly, the lack of water may lead to increased susceptibility to cellular damage that can eventually lead to chronic health problems and organ failure.
So How Much Water Do We Need to Consume
Without a doubt, one of the most important long-term habits that health-conscious people should adopt is making sure they are drinking sufficient water daily. Drink a total eight x 8 oz. glasses of purified water daily, one first thing in the morning, and seven more throughout the day.
There is possibly no other more important health habit than dutifully drinking eight glasses of purified water daily. By doing so, you are properly hydrating your body so it may function optimally and supporting regular elimination of toxins.
You should drink the first glass first thing in the morning. It has an immediate cleansing effect in cells, improves digestive function (needed for breakfast) and helps you avoid symptoms associated with mild dehydration. While you sleep, your body continues working. Upon first waking, most people are already mildly or moderately dehydrated (recall that even 1 or 2 % loss can lead to impaired physiology).
Then, drinking seven glasses of water throughout the day can help make sure you stay adequately hydrated. However, this is not a “one size fits all” guideline. For a truer approach, use this calculation; 0.033 x body weight (kgs) = litres/water, then add 1 more litre per hour of intense exercise.
Your Health Can Depend on Your Water Intake
The true health implications of inadequate water intake are not all clear. While this critical nutrient is available free or at low cost to most of the population, it does not have any major sources of research funding. It will likely take years of research before more is known about the total effects of chronic mild dehydration. However, it is clear that drinking the right kind and amount of water is truly one of the keys to good health.