By Jill Jackson, Certified Nutritional Practitioner
Water is one of the most vital things for human life. Without water we would all be dead within 4 days to a week. As morbid as that may be, it shows how essential it is for human life. Collectively the human body is between 60-66% water, that’s a pretty large percentage! This percentage is even larger when the human fetus is developing in the womb (up to 80%). Our bones contain about 30% water, and it is a main component of all fluids in our body.
Water is involved in many important functions such as:
- Body temperature regulation
- Elimination of waste
- Elimination of toxins
- Digestion and absorption
- The carrying of electrolytes
That’s just to name a few. In a 24 hour day we lose 1.5 liters of water through urine only. Also an additional 400ml through the breath, 150ml through feces and 750ml through our skin. That equals 2.8 liters of water loss every single day. The simple answer would be to say that 2.8 liters is the amount of water we should be drinking each day. However, the body can make a small amount of water by metabolizing certain nutrients and we also receive water directly from food. This still leaves us with an average of 1-1.5 liters of water that we need to get from elsewhere.
Why 6-8 glasses?
Why does this magic number ‘6-8’ appear everywhere? It’s because 6-8 cups are an estimated daily intake that stems back to a 1945 US Food and Nutrition Board recommendation. A little outdated if you ask me! Water intake will vary depending on your size, activity level, climate, and your diet. It should be completely individualized to you!
The consequences of not drinking enough water:
With all the functions adequate water consumption supports, there is bound to be a host of negative things that can happen to our bodies when we lack proper hydration. Dehydration can affect both our physical and mental health. Water protects our organs and digestive system. Dehydration can cause gastric ulcers, asthma, allergies, high blood pressure, irritation, migraines, lupus, light headedness, and chronic fatigue. It can even cause things like joint pain since cartilage cushioning requires water to remain fluid and function properly. A lot of these symptoms can be missed or be mistaken to be caused from other ailments.
Is there a maximum amount of water you should intake?
Drinking above around 2 liters daily can be harmful to your body. Too much water can be hard on your kidneys, causing over hydration. In severe cases, you can die. A few cases have been seen in marathon runners or people who take certain drugs, disturbing their thirst reflex. Keep in mind there has been far more people who have died from dehydration than over hydration. It is rare, but it can happen.
How should we get water into our diet?
We should get water from water, and we should never try to obtain hydration simply from sugary pops and coffee. Water is the simplest form of hydration. There is a ton of debate about what water is best. However, a high elevation spring water seems to be the cleanest and purest source but realistically it is not attainable for all. Tap or city water can contain a horrible amount of toxins. It can be hard to know what dangers can be found in our tap water, for this reason, I recommend water that has had some type of filtration. Installing a reverse osmosis tap would be a great option. Cost wise this may not be an option for many, in that case I recommend the Santevia jug filters. Any filtration is better than none!
In summary, water is absolutely life sustaining. Sadly, I feel that much of the world’s Western population lives day to day unknowingly dehydrated. If you haven’t already, add proper hydration to the top of your health goals and you will soon see the difference it can make in your daily life!