Next to air, water is the most vital element needed for survival. By weight, a newborn infant is approximately 75 percent water, and an adult about 70 percent.
The grey matter of the brain is approximately 85 percent water; blood is 83 percent water and muscles are about 75 percent water. Almost every cell and tissue of the body not only contains water, but is continually bathed in fluid and requires water to perform its functions.
Water is a medium in which metabolism takes place. It is:
The transport system within the body
A lubricant for movement
The facilitator of digestion
The prime transporter of waste via kidneys
A temperature regulator
A major constituent of our circulating blood.
About two thirds of the water our body requires comes from ingested liquid, about one third from our food, and a small amount of liquid is synthesised during food metabolism. Fruits and vegetables generally have higher water content than other food groups.
Ideally, the body maintains a balance between the amount of water lost each day and the amount taken in to replace it.
What if our water intake is inadequate?
When we don’t provide our bodies with enough water, they attempt to avoid dehydration by decreasing sweat and urine output. If this compensatory mechanism proves inadequate and insufficient fluid intake persists, dehydration will occur.
Dehydration causes an impairment of the body cooling mechanisms, along with a possible rise in body temperature and an inefficient clearance of body waste. The blood thickens and blood flow becomes impaired, increasing the risk of intravascular clotting. This may manifest as stroke or heart attack. Dehydration may cause a person to experience dizziness or headache. Drinking an inadequate amount of water also increases the risk of developing kidney and gallstones.
In 2011, Nursing Times called attention to the hazards facing older Britons from inadequate fluid intake (https://caretobedifferent.co.uk/dehydration-why-are-elderly-people-still-dying-of-thirst/) It is estimated that adequate hydration of older people could save thousands of days of hospitalisation and millions of pounds each year. Such an observation has implications for all age groups worldwide.
How much water is needed to stay hydrated?
In a healthy person, a practical guide to water intake is to consume sufficient amounts throughout the day to ensure that the urine is a pale colour.
Begin drinking water in the morning, because the body is relatively dehydrated from insensible (invisible) water loss, or perspiration, during sleep. Then continue to drink water at regular intervals throughout the day.
Be sure to drink water that is pure and clean. It is the most healthfully beneficial liquid we can consume. Coffee, tea and alcoholic drinks, apart from their other harmful effects, are diuretic agents. Most soft drinks are loaded with sugar, contributing to problems of obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.
Life cannot exist without water. Water cleanses, refreshes, and powerfully aids the body’s restoration. Remember to drink enough water every day in order to experience its benefits and enjoy good health.
This article is adapted from a publication, "Celebrations, Living life to the full", published by the General Conference of SDA Health Ministries Department