The human body can last weeks without food, but only days without water. The body is made up of upto 75% water -it forms the basis of blood, muscle, fat and other tissues.
We can’t store water, so we need to take in water every day to make up for losses from respiration, perspiration as well as going to the loo. The amount we need depends on body size, metabolism, the weather (so where we live), the food we eat and our activity levels.
Water is needed for most body functions, including:
- keeping the bloodstream liquid enough to flow through blood vessels
- eliminating the by-products of the body’s metabolism, excess electrolytes (salts), and urea, which is a waste product of digesting of dietary protein
- regulate body temperature through sweating
- moisten mucous membranes such as those of the lungs and mouth
- lubricate and cushion joints
- serve as a shock absorber inside the eyes, spinal cord and in the amniotic sac surrounding the foetus in pregnancy.
Not drinking enough water lowers your physical and mental performance, salivary gland function, can increase the risk of kidney stones and, in women, urinary tract infections. As a general guide you need c.30ml of water per kilo of body weight so a 75kg person needs c.2.25 litres a day.
The fluids you drink each day, should be predominantly fresh unsweetened, non-artificially flavoured, non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic (these are often full of empty calories and tooth rotting/staining substances and unnecessary additives). All too many people drink nothing but their regulation three cups of coffee and half bottle of wine a day – no other ‘clean’ fluids pass their lips. This is not good. Try to halve non-water drink intake. Ideally reduce your fluid intake to only include water, tea, herbal tea and the occasional coffee. You can add some zing to cold water with a few slices of lime or cucumber, a squeeze of lemon or chunk of ginger to hot water, and try green tea which is great in antioxidants.