Water has many uses in our lives. It is a basic nutrient essential for life itself. You can live for days and maybe weeks without food, but in as little as 1-day life can cease without water. Water is a major component of our body. Our body weight consists of between 50- 75% water.
To function properly, all organs require water. Water assists in:
- A medium for all chemical changes within the body.
Water has the following functions:
- Transports oxygen from the blood cells
- Assists the carrying of nutrients in the blood
- Utilised in building and repairing the body
- Assists in the body’s temperature regulation
- Lubricates joints and organs
- Acts as a solvent for the body’s constituents
- Helps the kidneys to function normally
- Assists in the efficient metabolism of all nutrients
- Removes waste products
- Provides a suitable environment for the body’s chemical reactions to take place
Fat is stored in the adipose tissue as a triglyceride. If the body wants to utilise this fat for energy, it must be able to break the triglyceride into three fatty acids and the glycerol backbone, this requires water.
Glucose (from carbohydrate) is stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen. In order to break down the glycosidic bonds that hold them together, water must be available.
Proteins are made up of a long chain of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. In order to break down the proteins into individual amino acids, water must be present. If we are not well hydrated, the breaking down of proteins becomes difficult.
Dehydration is defined as excessive loss of water from the body and occurs when we lose more water than we are taking in. That is why it is very important that you maintain a balance between fluid intake and fluid output.
Water is normally lost from the body by:
- In the faeces
- In expired air
One way of testing to see if you are consuming enough water is to look at the colour of your urine. Urine should be pale. Dark coloured urine is indicative of dehydration. The average sedentary adult requires around 2.0L of water on a daily basis. For more active adults, this need will increase by up to 5-10L per day depending on the energy requirements of the person and environmental conditions. You can estimate the water needs as being 1ml of water for every Kcal burned, based on age, weight and activity levels.