The Role of Water in the Human Body
Water is life, and our bodies need water more than they need food, sleep, or exercise. An important component of every bodily function, water is the major portion of our digestion and elimination systems. It also cushions and lubricates brain and joint tissue. Water also transports nutrients and carries waste away from the cells. And it helps regulate body temperature by distributing heat and cooling the body through perspiration.
Our bodies are composed of water. The entire is about 70 percent water. Our bones are composed of 22 percent water, muscles are 76 percent and blood is 83 percent. Lungs are 90 percent, and our brains are actually 95 percent water. It is easy to see why water and hydration play such a critical role in a healthful lifestyle.
Hydration is the replacement of body fluids lost through sweating, exhaling, and elimination. It’s just as important at the office or on the couch as it is in the gym. And proper hydration does more than just keep you from getting thirsty. It actually does the following for your health:
- Water carries nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body.
- Water is the main property of blood, which carries nutrients to cells and carries wastes out of the body.
- Water helps convert food into energy.
- Water protects and cushions vital organs.
- Water lubricates joints.
- Water regulates body temperature.
- Water moistens oxygen for breathing.
- Water is essential for our senses to work properly.
- Hearing waves are transmitted through fluids in the ear, light is reflected through fluids in the eye, and food and odors must be dissolved in water for taste and smell.
- Water is one of the six nutrients essential for life (water, fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals).
- The body can last up to six weeks without food, but only one week without water.
Under average circumstances, the body loses and needs to replace approximately 2 to 3 quarts of water daily. All bodily functions, including breathing, cause water loss, which means that water needs to be replaced on a daily basis. When you are asleep, you lose as much or more water as when you are awake, and you need as much water in cold weather as in warm weather.
Luckily, many of the foods we eat are composed primarily of water. Foods with particularly high water content include greens and most fruits and vegetables. Caffeinated beverages such as soft drinks, tea, and coffee also count, in part, toward our daily fluid intake. Though they do not ‘dehydrate’ you, they can promote increased urination, so they should not be the primary nonfood source of liquids during your day.
The best source of hydration is probably water, or drinks that are primarily water, such as herbal teas, lemon water, and vegetable broth.
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