The human body must have a balance of water to function properly. Water helps control body temperature, distribute nutrients throughout the body, remove waste from the body, and lubricate joints. We cannot survive more than a few days without water.
Why You Need Water
The human body is comprised of about 70 percent water, varying slightly depending on age and sex. Men?s bodies consist of more water than women?s bodies. Babies have the highest percentage of water in their bodies and it declines with age. As much as 20 percent of our necessary hydration comes from solid food intake, the remaining 80 percent comes from fluid intake.
Every cell in our bodies requires water. All of our vital organs are made up of mostly water. The largest organ, our skin, contains 64 percent water. Water helps regulate our body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. It flushes toxins out of our system, distributes nutrients and oxygen, lubricates joints, and moistens mucus membranes, like in the nose. It is possible to get too little water or even too much water.
Not Enough Water
Many physical and mental problems may arise without proper hydration. Too little water may increase your risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections. It may reduce physical performance, cause confusion, and lead to dehydration. In addition to not drinking enough fluids, vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination, fever and increased sweating may all contribute to dehydration. Extreme dehydration can cause the kidneys to shut down and result in death.
Symptoms include: Sticky or dry mouth, intense thirst, headache, fatigue, lethargy, irritability, weakness, dark colored urine, low output of urine, dry lips and nostrils, no tear production, confusion, hallucinations, and sunken eyes. In infants, a sunken fontanelle (?soft spot?) indicates dehydration.
Too Much Water
Hyponatraemia is more commonly known as water intoxication. When so much water is consumed that the kidneys cannot keep up, sodium builds up in the body causing an electrolyte imbalance. As the water in the body increases, cells swell and become water logged. Hyponatraemia is very rare, usually appearing in people with certain mental illnesses. However, it does cause severe illness and death.
Symptoms include: Nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, coma, seizures, loss of consciousness, muscle weakness, cramps, irritability, and fatigue.
How Much Water Do You Need?
The common advice to drink eight glasses of water per day is outdated. Experts recommend that healthy adults simply drink when they feel thirsty. However, if someone is taking medication that induces thirst, if they are athletes or otherwise very physically active, or if they live in extreme climates, thirst may not be a trustworthy indicator of water needs. People need more than eight glasses especially if they are pregnant or breastfeeding, active, have medical conditions like kidney stones, or in very hot weather.
Current recommendations for drinking water are 3 liters (about 12.5 cups) for men and 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) for women. Because you get fluid from foods and other beverages, the eight glasses per day rule isn?t too inaccurate. It just doesn?t capture the full picture. One of the best indicators to watch is the color of your urine. Light yellow to clear urine means you are properly hydrated. If your urine anywhere from dark yellow to near brown, you need to increase your water intake. Keep in mind that vitamins and medications can affect your urine color, though.
For most people, staying properly hydrated is a pretty simple process. Our bodies are built to maintain balanced hydration, so all we need to do is keep drinking fresh water every day.
Another way I remember and recommend is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. (If you weigh 150lbs that equals 75 ounces) Unless you are obese then you might risk drinking too much.