We all appreciate the importance of drinking enough fluid, but do you realize the importance of drinking enough water? Our bodies are made up of around 70% water, or at least they should be if we drink enough. What happens though if we only have 69% water? Is that small shortage enough to impact our health in a negative way?
Importance of Water for Health
Sports science has calculated this to a very fine degree and it seems that a 1% loss of fluid in the body can affect performance quite drastically. Research shows that the 1% deficiency can cause a 10% loss of performance.
Now for us mere mortals rather than world class athletes you may think this is not really a big deal. After all, we’re not competing at that level of physical activity so does it really matter? Think again, your brain is 80% water and it needs all that water to function correctly. Your brain never rests, not even when you’re asleep. It requires enough water at all times. So if it pulls it’s full requirement from your bodies water supply, then something else must go short.
Let’s just back track a moment, we know an adult’s body should be 70% water but what about a child? Or a baby, or even a fetus in the womb? Are they also 70% water? The answer is a definite no!
A 4 month fetus is actually 93% water, all of which must come from the water supplies of the mother. Nature ensures the survival of the fetus by allowing it to have first call on any nutrients, which is why pregnant women are advised against taking alcohol, or smoking or taking drugs. They all travel to the fetus.
A newborn baby is 80% water and can suffer mild dehydration. Dehydration sets in when the baby is fed formula where the formula is made too strong (too thick). Or, when the baby is sick either with diarrhea or vomiting as they lose fluid in either case. Once they start on solid foods (even when still having breast or formula milk), then they need water too.
Auto intoxication occurs when too much water is taken in, either because water is given, or the formula is diluted too much. Balance is everything, too much water can kill as can too little. Water intoxication is dangerous because the surplus water dilutes the necessary salts and electrolytes needed for healthy body function. It can cause seizures or dangerously low body temperatures, cells expand to accommodate the extra fluid, when they can expand no more, they burst!
However, water intoxication is very rare in adults unless drugs or compulsion (fraternity hazing, competition, mental disorders) is involved.
Many people advocate juice for babies instead of water, but for a baby under 6 months and not having any solid food at all, juice can cause stomach cramps and diarrhoea. This is caused by the sugars in juice (not something you have to consider with water). Even when you do start giving a baby juice it should be unsweetened and diluted with – you guessed it – water!
Symptoms of mild dehydration – the most common
• Dry or sticky mouth
• Dry eyes
• Sleepiness or tiredness
• Thirst – although this is not a reliable indicator
• Decreased urine output — around three hours for infants and eight hours or more without passing water for older children and teenagers
• Few or no tears when crying
• Dry skin
• Dizziness or a feeling of light-headedness
One of the best indicators of symptoms of mild dehydration is actually the colour of the urine, darker colours mean less water available so be aware that dehydration may be setting In. The lighter the colour the more hydrated the body.
In part 2 we’ll look at how dehydration affects older people and why.
Importance of Clean Drinking Water