Water – and Why I Need It
Water and Your Body
Your body is 60-70% water.
- muscles are 70-75% water
- your brain is 75% water
- blood cells are 83% water
- your skeleton is 22% water
Water is a major element in every cell and tissue of your body and every body function depends on water. You can live for 35-50 days without food but only 3-5 days without water.
You lose water naturally every day.
Signs and Effects of Dehydration
If you don’t drink enough water to replace what you lose you can become dehydrated.
How can you tell if you are dehydrated. Your best guide is colour and odour of your urine. It should be a pale yellow colour with no odour during the day. It will be slightly darker upon rising in the morning. If it is dark coloured or strong smelling drink more water. Remember that supplementing with B vitamins will cause your urine to be a bright yellow.
More serious signs of dehydration include:
- blurred vision
- dry mouth
- fatigue and overall weakness
- flushed, dry, hot skin
- rapid pulse
- shortness of breath
- prioritises water distribution to the most vital organs so less vital tissues and organs suffer
- capillary beds feeding blood to the tissues shut down so there is less space for circulating blood leading to high blood pressure
- body releases a hormone called vasopressin which is a diuretic and causes you to bloat
As dehydration progresses in the body
Dehydration has many effects on the body.
So How Much Do I Need and How Do I Fit It In?
as a minimum – six 8oz glasses per day
Remember, basic fluid requirements will vary person to person depending on things like body size, state of health, activity levels and the temperature and humidity of their environment.
Remember that water rich fruits and vegetables as well as fresh fruit and vegetable juices count as hydration also. Coffee, soft drinks, regular tea and beer do NOT count towards your daily water needs.
Don’t go from drinking no water to lots of water all at once as this can overwork your kidneys and digestive system. Increase gradually by adding one extra glass each successive day until you reach optimum. It may take you 5-14 days to become fully re-hydrated.
Water and Sodium
Water and sodium have a special and important relationship in your body. Sodium is one of the three main electrolytes in your body – potassium and chloride are the other two. An electrolyte has an electrical charge and conducts electricity making them crucial for muscle and nerve activity.
Sodium helps the body to regulate its water balance, regulate blood volume (so affecting blood pressure), and assists in the production of stomach acid so aiding digestion.
Sodium also interacts in a very finely tuned “dance” with potassium to produce energy and dehydration can disrupt this balance by increasing sodium levels.
Salt supplements are not necessary unless you are going to be somewhere very hot and will be sweating excessively. Profuse sweating results in loss of sodium and potassium but even more water is lost so the actual concentration of sodium in the blood usually rises. It is only with excessive losses of fluid such as with extreme sweating, vomiting, diarrhoea and burns that sodium levels can become too low.
Natural whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, seafood and sea vegetables contain properly balanced sodium and potassium.
Our municipal water authorities work very hard to provide us with clean, safe water …. but you don’t always get what you expect. Tap water can be contaminated by:
- lead from old pipes or lead solder
- other heavy metals
- industrial chemicals like PCBs or VOCs
Municipal tap water is chlorinated to kill germs. In some places it may also be fluoridated as it has traditionally been believed that this prevents tooth decay although this is controversial and many studies show water fluoridation is not effective so many towns and cities have stopped fluoridation. Some areas may also treat their water with calcium hydroxide to alkalise more acidic water to prevent pipe corrosion.
Many people choose to drink bottled water but this is a transitional fix, not a solution. The water may not necessarily be of any better quality – think of the CocaCola bottled water scandal a few years ago. The soft polycarbonate resin in the bottles can leach into the water and there is also the environmental aspect of disposing of the bottles to consider. Energy has to be used to create the bottles and more energy is used recycling them after use.
Domestic Water Treatment System
Filtering your own tap water may be a cheaper option than bottled water. The two most common approaches are solid carbon block filters (like Brita water jugs) and reverse osmosis.
Solid Carbon Block Filter
The key factor is the filter’s micron rating. A micron rating of 1 or less can remove
- most chemicals
- lead, mercury
They are a cost effective option and you can buy stand-alone water jug models or ones that attach to your sink faucet as well as portable water bottles with filters. You must remember to change the filter regularly but some water jugs and most faucet systems will have a filter indicator to alert you.
Reverse osmosis is a more complex, multi-stage filtration system which uses a series of pre-filters, post-filters, UV light and, sometimes, colloidal silver ionisers. They can be very expensive to install although prices are coming down and the units are wasteful of water – only around 10-25% of incoming water is converted to drinking water. They also can take up quite a lot of space under sink.
However it does clear all bacteria and chemicals from the water. BUT, it also removes all minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are important to health.