The human body is composed of more than half water by weight. Water is part of every tissue, organ and cell. Many chemical reactions involved in metabolism, respiration and digestion require water. Without proper hydration, the kidneys and intestines would not be able to rid of waste in a proper manner. Life would not continue without the intake of adequate water in some form.
The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Home and Garden Information Center explains that humans cannot survive for more than a few days without water. Some of the essential functions that rely on water include regulating normal body temperature, carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, and ridding the body of waste products.
Effects of Dehydration
It is important to consume water every day to prevent dehydration. As Northwestern Health Sciences University explains in “The Dangers of Dehydration,” symptoms will progress from a dry mouth to muscle spasms and delirium in a matter of a few days. With just 2 to 5 percent of body water loss, there can already be signs of fatigue and impaired physical performance. As dehydration progresses, the symptoms turn to labored breathing upon exertion, increased pulse rate, weakness and dizziness. If 20 percent body water loss occurs, death becomes imminent.
More Benefits of Water
Besides maintaining life, some functions of water also contribute to comfort throughout the day. The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Office reports that water cushions joints, helps strengthen muscles, aids in preventing constipation and provides moisture to skin and other tissues. It can also provide a feeling of fullness, which can prevent overeating. Drinking plenty of water prevents feelings of thirst and dry mouth, and keeps skin looking more refreshed and healthy.
Situations Requiring Increased Water Intake
Vomiting, diarrhea or increased sweating causes more water to be lost from the body. This fluid must be replaced to prevent dehydration. Very young children are more susceptible to becoming seriously ill because of their size and the smaller amount of water present in their body. Athletes also must carefully consume adequate fluids before, during and after working out to replace water losses in sweat. The University of Minnesota Extension Office advises athletes to drink plenty of fluids during the day and to drink before becoming thirsty. Lack of water can lead to dizziness, fatigue, poor physical performance and even heat stroke. In very hot weather, water is vital in preventing body temperatures from going too high, which can lead to death.
Water is Present in Foods and Beverages
The University of Minnesota Extension Office explains that water is present in all beverages and virtually all foods. Drinking pure water, however, is the best way to assure adequate hydration and proper body functioning as some beverages contain caffeine or alcohol, which can promote dehydration. Approximately 1 ml of water is needed for each calorie consumed during the day. An average 2000 calorie diet requires 2000 ml of water (2 liters) which is about eight cups.