Trivia question: About how much percent of the Earth’s surface is water? Want to venture a guess? The answer is 75%, according to the Earth Observatory of NASA (2010). We humans are about 60% made up of water (USGS, 2010), and 75% for babies (NPR, 2013). You see, we are like the Earth in a sense. Similar to how water cleanses the Earth, regulates temperature, and nourishes life inhabitants over a continuous cycle, the natural substance has a role in our metabolism, thermoregulation, and life sustenance. It goes to show that we need to replenish our own water supply regularly every day.
Just how much water do you need to drink a day? You’ve probably heard the “eight glasses a day” recommendation and that’s a good ballpark number, especially when spacing them out to stay hydrated throughout the day. Fruits and vegetables, as well as other beverages like milk and tea, contribute to your water intake, and you might need more if you are exercising or living in warmer climates (Mayo Clinic, 2017). Take care and pay attention to theses signs of dehydration: (1) You feel thirsty, (2) You have dry mouth, or (3) Your urine is dark yellow. Now we’re in the middle of the summer season, do what you can to have a water bottle by your side, and have some sips throughout the day.
The importance of water intake cannot be stressed enough. Being in a constant state of dehydration can impact health on many levels based on a review of literature from nutrition scholars (Popkin, D’Anci, and Rosenberg, 2010):
Performance in Physical Activity
Athletes lose water quicker through sweat and have consequently experienced fatigue and a higher level of effort upon exertion. The run or the lifting felt harder. Whether or not you’re an athlete, just moving can feel more like a drag. This becomes worse when it is hot outside. So grab a sip of water.
Memory, Alertness, and Concentration
There were a lot of studies involved in finding an association between hydration and cognitive performance with some mixed results. For example, being mildly dehydrated doesn’t significantly alter cognition, but adding heat stress can make the difference. Rehydration can help jump-start the ability to remember things short-term and staying alert. It is likely the feeling of dehydration can distract one from committing attention towards a task requiring some thinking.
Gut and Intestinal Health
The lack of hydration is linked to constipation due to a lack of water needed to promote digestion, emptying of the stomach, and passing of stool. Water is much needed in the small intestine to facilitate most of the digestion process, taking place in the longest part of the digestive system. Without adequate water, digestion is less efficient.
Your kidneys act as a filter to clear out waste products, and it needs water for filtration to take place. When the filtration process doesn’t take place regularly, electrolytes and waste remain in the body, which raises the risk for issues in blood chemistry, fluid retention, and kidney stones.
Because the amount of blood you have is related to water intake, the level of hydration can have an effect on how your heart works to pump and circulate blood through the network of blood vessels. Blood pressure and heart rate are so intertwined that they work for you to deliver blood to your organs, muscles, and brain. The lack of water increases the risk of feeling dizzy, faint, light-headed, or nauseous.
When your head hurts, it may be because of the lack of hydration within the skull and brain. Rehydration can provide relief in 30 minutes to three hours. It can also help with migraine headaches.
There is strong evidence indicating the relationship between dehydration and the formation of kidney stones, exercise-induced asthma, and higher blood sugar levels. However, more confirmation is needed for the role of hydration in other health issues, namely high blood pressure, blood clots, and urinary tract infections.
Water clearly has a role in not only running your body’s inner processes but also prevent health ailments. For a natural substance, it does many wonders for Earth and humankind. We are water-based entities. We would like to close this writing with a quote from actor, martial artist, and philosopher Bruce Lee:
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
Earth Observatory. (2010). The water cycle. Retrieved from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Water/page1.php
Mayo Clinic. (2017). Water: how much should you drink every day? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
NPR. (2013). Born wet, human babies are 75 percent water. Then comes the drying. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/krulwich/2013/11/25/247212488/born-wet-human-babies-are-75-percent-water-then-comes-drying
Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), 439–458. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
USGS. (2010). The water in you: water and the human body. Retrieved from https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects