The importance of proper hydration for optimal body function
Water is the most important thing to consume every day for your body's optimal health. Generally, an adult male needs about 3 liters per day, while an adult female needs about 2.2 liters per day. However, there is no global agreement on the exact quantity a human must consume on a daily basis. An article written by H.H. Mitchell on the Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, explains that approximately 60% an adult humans’ body is water: our skin contains around 64% water, your muscles and kidneys contain 79%, your bones 31%, your brain and heart 73% and lungs your lungs contain around 83% water.
The amount of water that you have allows your the ability to perform basic human functions that are essential for our survival. Ultimately, factors such as geographic location, how much physical activity you engage in, your age age and your sex can all have an impact on how much water you need to consume on a daily basis. Babies, toddlers and children are in the growth stage and therefore need more water content (since they have more), as a percentage, than in an adults body. According to Dr. Jeffrey Utz, Pediatric Neuroscience at Allegheny University, men and lean individuals with little fatty tissue have more water content than women and individuals with more fatty tissue (fat tissue does not have as much water as lean tissue).
By the time you feel thirsty your body is already dehydrated; our thirst mechanism lags behind our actual level of hydration. As you “lose” body water without replacing it, your blood becomes more concentrated and, at a point, this triggers your kidneys to retain water. The result: you urinate less. The thicker and more concentrated your blood becomes, the harder it is for your cardiovascular system to compensate by increasing heart rate to maintain blood pressure. Less water also hampers the body’s attempts at regulating temperature, which can cause hyperthermia (a body temperature greatly above normal) and a shrinking of cells as the body aims to pull water out of them in order to maintain other functions.
Research shows that as little as 1% dehydration negatively affects your mood, attention, memory and motor coordination. Data in humans is lacking and contradictory, but it appears that brain tissue fluid decreases with dehydration, thus reducing brain volume and temporarily affecting cell function. When your dehydrated body is “pushed” – such as when exercising or faced with heat stress – the risk of exhaustion or collapse increases. This can cause you to faint, for instance, when you stand up too quickly.
When you don’t drink enough water, your body begins to hold on to whatever water it has to make sure that it can perform the necessary chemical reactions that are essential for our survival. In order for your body to let go of water and remove wastes is to consume enough water to keep proper hydration. Estimates of how much you need depend greatly on how tall you are, how much you weigh, etc. It is estimated that approximately 20% the water you ingest comes from the food you eat. However, to make sure that your body is running at optimal speed, you should aim to take in 1 oz of water per inch of your height per day or more.
If you exercise, you should consume another 8-ounces of water per 20 minutes of activity. If you drink coffee or alcohol, you should drink at least an equal amount of water to make up for the diuretic effects of these substances. If you live in an arid climate, you should add another 2 servings per day. As you can see, your daily need for water can add up to quite a lot. It is possible to consume too much water. If you start drinking water and begin to feel queasy and ill, desist for a time until you feel better. Luckily, however, you need to drink a lot of water in a very short amount of time to be truly drinking too much. For most of us, though, drinking a lot of water will result in no more than a few more trips to the bathroom.
The following site contains a good calculator to help you figure out how much water you should drink:
If you walk or run and want to know how much water to carry with you this site has a good calculator: