Water is the essence of life. Without it life would cease to exist: plants would wither and die; animals would fall down in dehydration; and humans would not be able to survive. Plants, animals and humans need water to get the chemicals they need from their surroundings, to break down food, to move substances within their bodies and organisms, and to reproduce. In addition to giving life to organisms, water also brings beauty into our world. Think of how water can transform a barren, rocky landscape to one filled with life and vegetation.
More than half of our bodies are made up of water: the water composition of an average adult male being almost 60%. Where do we get this essential fluid for our body? We receive it from the liquids that we drink, and from the water content of the foods that we eat. In order that we remain healthy, we need to ensure that we have enough water in our bodies so that our body temperature can be maintained and that the nutrients we need can be transported to our organs and tissues.
When we lose water (through urination, sweating, and respiration), we need to ensure that we refill the body. In addition, diuretics such as caffeine, alcohol and some medications can cause you to lose water from your body. We know we do not have enough water in our bodies when our urine is a yellow or amber colour, and has a strong odour. Other symptoms of dehydration are: thirst, joint and muscle pain, lower back pain, headaches, and constipation.
What can you do to ensure that the water levels in your body are in balance? The first is to drink liquid. Take note, though, that not all liquids are equal. A can of Coke, for example, will not have the same benefits as a long glass of cool water. The soft drink has sugar added (not helpful if you want to maintain your weight) as well as other additives. The food you eat can also help you to prevent dehydration: watermelon is a perfect example for a hot summer’s day. Fruit like apples too, though, have a high water content. And what about that cucumber, or piece of celery, that you snack on in the afternoon? Eating fresh, raw vegetables will help you to stave the thirsty sign of dehydration. For a list of the water content of fruits and vegetables, have a look at the document that has been prepared by the University of Kentucky. You may find it interesting.
What about the advice to drink 8 glasses of water a day? To be honest, I do not drink 2 litres of water a day – and that includes any tea or juice that I drink. As I eat plenty of fruit and raw vegetables I do not need to fill my body with so much liquid. There are times, though, on hot sweat days when I find myself reaching for a tall glass of water more often; or on days when I eat salty, cooked food. I try to listen to what my body is telling me and give it liquid when it asks. Drinking too much water is just as unhealthy for your body as drinking too little. It places strain on your body by making your kidneys work overtime to get rid of the excess water.
How do you replenish the water level in your body?
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
(Join Jake every week for a theme for creative inspiration. This week’s prompt is: Water.)