Did you know that your cognitive and physical performance is drastically affected by just a 2% reduction in the water levels in your body? Water is essential for life. It is the main constituent of cells, tissues and organs that make up the human body. Although we all know its importance, adequate hydration is often ignored or forgotten. Its absence even for a few days can be lethal under certain conditions. In fact, just its shortage can result in dehydration and can affect consciousness, speech clarity, alertness, body energy, and can cause hypotension, kidney stones, increased heart rate etc.
Importance of water or fluid in the human body
Water is one of the most important elements in the human body that is continuously required to perform various bodily functions. It acts as a solvent, as lubricant, is an important bodybuilding material, is a medium for chemical reactions and sometimes a reactant. It carries nutrients and waste products within your body, is required for thermoregulation; and is also a shock absorber. It is also essential for the normal functioning of the digestive system to prevent constipation and helps in the regulation of body temperature. And this is not even all, water is responsible for many more bodily functions, but you get the idea.
On an average, water accounts for about one half to two third of your body weight and your body loses water primarily by excreting it in urine from the kidneys. Adequate water or fluid intake must balance its loss. A healthy adult is recommended to take at least 2 litres of fluids every day. But this is not standard for every individual, and the amount of water needed by a person depends upon a variety of factors, like the climate you live in, physical activity, and health status of the person. E.g. it is a well-known fact that summers account for more water requirement as compared to winters and a person who is physically more active needs more water in comparison to a person with a sedentary lifestyle. Having said that, it is good to drink more than the recommended water intake as your body can easily eliminate extra water through urine but conserving water for the future shortage is not possible. Absorption from the digestive tract primarily obtains water. Additionally, a small amount of water is produced when your body processes (metabolises) certain nutrients.
What causes fluid/water loss?
Water deficiency, acute or chronic, is caused due to reduced intake of fluids or an increase in its loss from your body. In addition to this, excessive sweating, vigorous exercise, extremely hot weather, or a high body temperature due to fever, prolonged vomiting or severe diarrhoea can dramatically increase the amount of water loss from your body. Also, some water is lost in body functions like breathing, sweating, and digestion.
Caffeine or drinks containing caffeine like coffee, tea, and soda results in quick loss of fluids from your body. So, a person who drinks coffee, tea or sodas is receiving only 50 per cent of these fluids and should increase fluid intake to compensate for the quick loss.
But in general, everyday hydration can be well maintained through regular intake of food and fluids.
Fluids other than water that can help in maintaining fluid balance
While we are talking about fluids and its importance in our body, you should know that the intake is not just limited to water. Fluid balance can also be maintained by taking healthy beverages that have a high content of water in them. Some of the beverages that can be consumed to increase fluid intake are pomegranate juice, lemon juice, beet juice, green tea, ginger lemon tea, peach tea, milk, shakes, lassi, yoghurt, ice-cream, soup etc. Foods also contribute to fluid content, and almost 20% of the fluid in our body is obtained from food. Additionally, if you choose foods that are water-rich like apples, grapes, carrots, oranges, broccoli, pineapple, pear, meat, poultry, and fish, this percentage can be more. The advantage of taking these water-rich foods is not only fluid balance but also enhanced nutrition as these foods are also nutrient-rich and give a boost to body energy.
So, you should not only concentrate on water intake in its H20 form but also on any food or beverages with water content in it.
Don’t forget, you can survive for almost 3 weeks without food but not even a week without water.