Water is an important part of our lives. Roughly 71% of our planet is covered in it. It drives the cycles which keeps our planet alive. Without it, life as we know it would not exist.

Just as the planet is covered in water, our bodies are filled with it.

In your journey towards health and well-being, drinking enough water should be your top priority. You need water for all of the body’s vital functions. The majority of the bodies water is inside the cells. The rest is the interstitial fluid around the cells or makes up the plasma, which is the liquid part of the blood.

Good hydration enables your whole body to function more efficiently.

According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.

Essential functions of water;

  • Regulate your body temperature
  • Support production of cellular energy in the mitochondria
  • Provide the environment for all chemical reactions needed for life
  • Filter, flushes and detoxify wastes via your liver and kidneys
  • Eliminate toxins via your stools, urine, and sweat
  • Carries nutrients from digestion around your body
  • Lubricates your joints and mucous membranes
  • Acts as a shock absorber in your body

Mitochondria are organelle in your cells that generate chemical energy in the form of (adenosine triphosphate) ATP. Your body needs this energy to maintain membrane pumps needed for transporting nutrients and electrical signalling, regulate hormone secretions, perform physical and mental work, break down food and distribute nutrients and eliminate waste products and toxins.

 Health Benefits of Hydration;

  • Hydration supports your digestive system’s functions.
  • Hydration supports your liver that deactivates toxins carried by your blood. (about 1 quart (800–1200 ml) of blood cycles through your liver every minute for filtration.)
  • Hydration supports your kidneys to regulate the fluid balance in your body and play a vital role in detoxification. This process removes metabolic waste products and toxins from your blood which is then excreted via the urine, which will then become more concentrated and appear dark yellow.
  • Optimal water intake helps protect your urinary system against diseases.
  • Water supports the secretion of bile into the stools. In turn, good bile flow may reduce your odds of gallstones.
  • Proper hydration also supports the cardiovascular system, skin, brain, and lungs.
  • The hydration status may even impact the sensation of pain.
  • Water balances electrolytes, that needs to be maintained in the right proportions in all your bodily fluids.

Electrolytes are electrically charged particles called ions. The body contains several different electrolytes of which sodium and potassium are the most important. They regulate the body’s use and absorption of water. During severe vomiting and diarrhea, you may need supplemental electrolytes and enough liquids together with a healthy diet loaded with vegetables and fruits, keeping your electrolyte levels on point.

There are some studies on the specific effects of short-term dehydration, particularly related to military, athletic and cognitive performance. We know how detrimental acute dehydration can be. There is however very little research available on the exact long-term effects of chronic dehydration. If we consider the following information it is clear that chronic dehydration must be detrimental to health.

The heart is 73 % water. During dehydration the blood thickens and maintaining blood flow results in the heart working harder, the pulse rate raises and you can experience palpitations, dizziness and feeling light-headed. Having as little as 2% dehydration can contribute to chronic heart disease
In our arteries and veins plasma makes up 55% of the total volume of blood. Water make up 98% of the plasma. Without water the blood will thicken and make it difficult to carry oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients, waste and the blood cells through the vascular network.
79% of the kidneys are composed of water. The kidney filters out sodium, toxins and urea. They secrete hormones that regulate your blood pressure and the production of your red blood cells. Chronic dehydration can result in kidney stones, kidney disease and in the long run kidney function reduction and failure
The brain is 73 % of water. Water is the primary energy source of the brain. Without enough water the nervous system cannot send proper signals to the body. Your cognitive function can be compromised and your memory and mood can change with as little as 1% dehydration. Long term dehydration causes the brain to shrink. Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are all diseases linked to shrinking of the brain.
85% of lung tissue is water. Chronic lung disease is linked to dehydration, like asthma and chronic bronchitis.
Muscles are 79% water. Muscle fatigue and leg cramps will result from dehydration and exercise performance will be reduced.
Bones are 31% water and dehydration can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis. Joints depend on hydration for proper function and dehydration can lead to joint pain as well.

The skin can contain around 64% water. Other than not drinking enough water, the environment; heat, humidity and wind can also contribute to skin dehydration. This can lead to less detoxification through the skin and can increase the signs of aging.

The lymph system, also consisting of lymph vessels running through the body, lymph nodes, tonsils, thymus and spleen. The lymphatic system plays an important role in the immune system, fighting off infections and diseases.

1/4 of the body water is found outside of and between the body cells in the interstitial spaces. This fluid contains toxins excreted from the cells that need to be removed by the lymph vessels. The better hydrate, the more fluid in the interstitial spaces and the easier for the lymph vessels to remove the waste, toxins and infective material back to the big veins and the heart from where it is pumped through the arteries to the liver and kidneys to be removed from the body
The solid part of the eye is 98% water. Dehydration can be associated with retinal changes, cataracts, and dry eyes.
Unless you make an effort to drink enough water and focus on staying hydrated, the chance is you are chronically dehydrated, experiencing symptoms of dis-ease and can end up with lots of possible diseases in the body. It is important to have enough water for the body to function properly. The body systems become congested and part of the systems begins to fail from chronic congestion, making it more difficult to effectively use water.
We only get thirsty once we are already experiencing symptoms of dehydration. Thirst is an alarm telling you that your body needs water urgently. All cells, organs, bones, muscles, skin and connective tissue will be affected. Do not wait to feel thirsty before supplying enough clean water to the body. Make the choice to hydrate yourself in order to protect your long-term health and support healing yourself.

Thirst occurs in response to;
• Cellular dehydration triggers an osmoreceptor in the Hypothalamus gland
• Hypertonicity (high tension in the muscles)
• Hypovolemia (decrease blood plasma volume) picked up by the low-pressure baroreceptors in the large veins and right heart chamber
• Hypotension (very low blood pressure) picked up by the baroreceptors in the carotid sinus and aorta
• Renal hypotension leads to hypertension after release of renin by the kidney which leads to angiotensin ll secretion that raise the blood pressure

Dehydration symptoms;

  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth and cracked lips
  • Bad breath
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Decreased sense of taste
  • Light-headedness
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Constipation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Poor performance
  • Back pain
  • No sweat
  • Dry skin – skin turgor test shows loss of the skin on the back of the hand slipping back into place after  being pinched between the thumb and forefinger

If we consider the above information it is clear that chronic dehydration must be detrimental to health. You can decide for yourself whether you think chronic dehydration adds to long-term health problems.

How much water do we need?

Adults lose an average of 10 glasses of water (80 ounces) daily through urine, stools, and skin (sweat). Conventional wisdom recommends eight glasses of water a day.

Scientists now believe this amount depends on many factors unique to the individual.

These include;

  • Body size
  • Health condition
  • Activity level.
  • Environmental aspects like climate and altitude are important considerations.
  • Diuretic and antidepressant medication may also affect the water balance and electrolytes.

Experts provide the following general daily “adequate” water intake recommendations;

  • Women: 60–75 ounces (7.5–9 glasses)
  • Men: 88–100 ounces (11–12.5 glasses)

5 suggestions for Hydration

The solution to drink more water sounds simple. Other than plain water the following suggestions will support hydration.

  • Fruit-infused water – add lemon wedges, small amount of mashed berries or other fruit in water. Refrigerate it for at least two hours to let the flavours infuse the water. You can use whatever fruit you have on hand.
  • Herbal tea – beverages flavoured with herbs help to hydrate you. Enjoy them hot or cold.
  • Coconut water – This is also rich in electrolytes, particularly potassium.
  • Fruits and vegetables – hydration can also come from these solid foods. About 20% of the water you consume is tucked away in foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits can contain as much as 96% water by weight.
  • Broth and soup – these are another delicious way to increase your fluid intake. The collagen in bone broth helps to protect the gut lining and can prevent increased intestinal permeability.

Tips to stay hydrated

  • Start your day with a nice glass of water
  • Drink more water between meals
  • Limit caffeine intake and drink 1½ cups of water for 1 cup of coffee
  • Limit alcohol intake and hydrate the day after drinking alcohol
  • Before and during exercise drink more water. Weight loss during exercise is water weight and should be replenished afterwards
  • Drink more water during extreme heat
  • Eat fruits and vegetables daily with meals and as snacks
  • Eat soups, stews and sauces during winter to support hydration
  • Drink clean water and try to avoid tap water, as it is not always safe to drink