It's common knowledge that we all need to drink water daily, and for many years there been ongoing debates as to how much we need on an individual basis.
Within this article I aim to discuss what water does for us, and why it is so essential to get enough.
Before we look at how much water we need to put in our body's, let's look at what's coming out. The average person on a day to day basis, without exercise, will lose;
- 1500ml per day through excretion by the kidneys in the form of urine
- 500ml per day through perspiration and evaporation from the skin
- 300ml per day from the lungs function
- 200ml per day from the gastrointestinal track.
So let's do the maths...that is an average total of 2500ml of fluid lost on a non active day. This will increase significantly when participating in exercise.
If you fail to replace these fluids it will have negative effects on the body. Here is a few of them in detail.
Vitality and homeostasis
Drinking water is important to ensure we stay functioning smoothly and feeling good.
Adequate hydration will help proper functioning of the brain. When we are well hydrated, brain cells are better supplied with fresh, oxygen-laden blood, meaning a good environment for cognitive function. Mild dehydration, between 1% to 2% loss in body weight, can impair the ability to concentrate. Further dehydration can affect the brain's processing abilities and impair short-term memory. This is ever more present the morning after a few too many alcoholic beverages.
Water is like the body's transport system, helping the digestive system dissolve and absorb nutrients into the blood stream, then taking blood, oxygen, and nutrients around the body to tissues, and organs such as the heart. Hydration also plays a big role working with the heart to regulate blood pressure, cardiac output and body temperature. In addition adequate body water is essential for transport and removal of waste products and toxins from organs such as the kidneys, liver, organs digestive tract, and muscle tissues via urine, faeces and excess heat through sweat.
Another organ to consider is the skin. This is an essential and effective defensive barrier against bacteria and infection and you guessed it, good levels of hydration will result in healthier skin, and a more effect defence system.
Performance and movement
When considering the effects of hydration on our performance, there are several vital areas to look at.
Bones need adequate hydration to remain strong and flexible and lubricate the body's joints. With a pro long decrease in hydration level the body will be exposed to higher risk of brittle bones and arthritis. Two conditions that I'm sure we all want to avoid. In addition, a majority of our body's blood is produced by the bones, without adequate hydration the production of blood cells will be hindered and open up and array of health issues.
Surprisingly, a majority of skeletal muscle tissue is made up of water, around 75%, and the nutrients needed to feed them are transported via the blood stream. With a lack of water present in the body, insufficient supply of nutrients would result in unrepaired tissue and potentially muscle wastage. When our muscles carry our skeleton around all day, we need to do our very best to look after them appropriately.
Fascia is a structure of connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves, binding some structures together, while permitting others to slide smoothly over each other. Various kinds of fascia consist of distinct layers, depending on their functions and their anatomical location. A superficial, a deep and a subserous or visceral fascia, which extends uninterrupted from the head to the tip of the toes.
The function of muscle fasciae is to reduce friction to minimize the reduction of muscular force. In doing so, fasciae:
- Provide a sliding and gliding environment for muscles.
- Suspend organs in their proper place.
- Transmit movement from muscle to the bones they are attached to.
- Provide a supportive and movable wrapping for nerves and blood vessels as they pass through and between muscles.
If the body is held in poor postures for prolonged time, or exposed to physical activity, then dehydration will lead to shrinking of the fascia. Superficial fascia has the tensile strength of 2000 pounds per square inch and entraps more nerve endings and blood vessels than any of tissue. Tight fascia will lead to numerous potent problems such as imbalances in tonicity within muscles resulting in faulty movement patterns and a reduction in blood flow and circulation.
It's no secret that water is a fantastic conductor of energy, just think about electricity and water. Well the same principals apply for conducting energy through our body. Information is passed to and from nerves and muscles via kinetic charge. Well maintained hydration ensures direct and efficient Signalling of this vital information, if dehydration occurs within the body it may result in poor firing patterns and coordination of muscle.
Take home points
Water is extremely important for everything in our body, inside and out.
Even small decreases in hydration can have negative effects on our homeostasis.
Ensure 2+ litres of water a day, and 500ml more per hour of physical activity.
Drink regularly throughout the day.