The Wonderful World of Water

Fall 1999 CSANews Issue 33  |  Posted date : Mar 03, 2007.Back to list

You've heard it a thousand times: drink eight glasses of water a day. Even though this is just an estimated amount for most people, you don't do it. You're drowning in excuses – you don't like the taste, it's not convenient, you never remember. No big deal, you think; it's not affecting your health.

You're all wet. Getting enough water is crucial to your health. You couldn't survive without it. Yet surveys indicate that many Americans don't drink enough.

To understand why water is so important, you have to know what it does for your body. So grab a tall glassful, and read on.

Your body is from one-half to four-fifths water, depending on how much body fat you have. Your brain is nearly 85 per cent water; your blood is about 80 per cent, and your muscles and other tissue contain about 70 per cent. (Because there are a lot of tissues that have less water, the average is approximately 50 per cent.)

Every system in your body depends on water. Its roles are impressive. Water:
  • Regulates your body temperature
  • Removes waste
  • Carries nutrients and oxygen to your cells
  • Cushions your joints
  • Helps prevent constipation
  • Lessens the burden on your kidneys and liver by removing some of the toxins
  • Helps dissolve vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to make them accessible to your body.
Lack of water can lead to dehydration. Even slight dehydration can zap your energy and make you feel lethargic. Dehydration poses a particular health risk for the very young and the very old.

Prevention Floats
Besides helping your body run smoothly, there's some evidence that water helps prevent certain diseases. People who have had kidney stones can prevent further stones from forming by drinking lots of fluid. And, in one study, women who drank more than five glasses of water a day had a 45 per cent lower risk of colon cancer than others in the study who drank two or fewer glasses a day.

Why Water
You lose about 10 cups of fluid a day through perspiring, exhaling, urinating and bowel movements. Drinking water isn't the only way to replace those fluids. You also get water from other beverages and even from foods. In an average diet, it's estimated that solid foods provide between three and four cups of water a day. But, because it's difficult to estimate the amount of water solid foods contribute, it's recommended that you count only fluids toward meeting your goal of eight glasses a day. However, as we already said, that's only a ballpark estimate.

H20 4 U
If you're healthy and not in any dehydrating conditions, some experts say you can use your thirst as an indicator of when to drink. Others believe that if you're thirsty, you've already started to dehydrate. Play it safe by making a conscious effort to keep yourself hydrated. Drink a glass of water when you get up and another when you go to bed. Keep a bottle with you during the day and try to take regular water breaks. Drink water with all meals and avoid relying on soft drinks to fulfil your fluid needs. Getting enough water might just buoy your health.

Side Bar
To better determine how much water you specifically need each day, divide your weight in half. Your answer is the approximate amount of fluid (in ounces) you should drink daily.