Water - Hydrate yourself to optimal health!

By Jake Biggs, Nutrition Longevity

Water is you! No literally, its really true! According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological chemistry 158; the human body is approximately 60% water. The brain and heart are approximately 73% water, lungs approximately 83% water, skin containing approximately 64% water, muscles and kidneys approximately 79% water, blood is 90% water and bones 31% water. It is an essential nutrient for the body, which is required for digestion, absorption, transportation, dissolving nutrients, thermoregulation and elimination of waste from the body. It is a non-negotiable nutrient!

What exactly does water do for the body?

TO MUCH! These include:

• Lubricates joints

• Forming saliva and mucus

• Delivers oxygen throughout the body

• Boosts skin health and beauty

• Protects the brain and spinal cord with also assisting the production of hormones and neurotransmitters

• Regulates body temperature

• Assists digestive system

• Flushes body waste (urine and faeces)

• Helps maintain normal blood pressure

• Assists absorption of vitamins/minerals

• Prevention of kidney damage

• Assists sporting performance

• Assists weight loss

What happens to the body when it is deficient in water (dehydrated)?

Moderate dehydration

• Dry mouth

• Lethargy (lack of energy)

• Muscle weakness

• Headache

• Dizzy spells

Severe dehydration (loss of 10-15% of the body’s water)

• Insufficient sweating

• Sunken eyes

• Dry skin

• Hypotension (low blood pressure)

• Tachycardia (increased heart rate)

• Unconsciousness

What causes dehydration?

The basic cause of dehydration is a lack of water intake or a loss of water in the body; or could be a combination. However, there are also additional causes of dehydration which include:

• Diarrhoea: Severe diarrhoea causes a large excretion of water, as the large intestine which has a primary role of absorbing water from food; diarrhoea prevents this from happening.

• Vomiting: Initiates a large loss of fluids from the body

• Sweating: Excessive sweating can cause dehydration by the large loss of water from the body. This can be exasperated with extremely warm and humid weather

• Burns: Blood vessels can become damaged which can cause a large amount of fluid to leak from the surrounding tissues

• Frequent urination: Frequent urination elicits a large amount of fluid excretion from the body

How much water should we consume each day? According to the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council, 2014.

Can we drink too much water?

Yes – Absolutely. Excessive water intake can cause overhydration (water intoxication or hyponatremia). Hyponatremia is when sodium levels become dangerously low. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion and disorientation. Untreated overhydration in the body can have serious health consequences which include muscle weakness, spasms, muscle cramps, seizures, unconsciousness and potential coma. There is no specified number on ‘too much water’ as this is highly variable for the individual dependant on a range of factors including age, gender, physical activity levels, temperature regulation and climate.

Water content for food sources

Does dehydration negatively affect sports performance?

YES - A LOT! So how does dehydration actually decrease performance?

• Blood volume reduction

• Reduction in blood flow

• Reduced sweat rate

• Reduced heat dissipation

• Increased core body temperature

• Upsurged rate of glycogen usage

Exercise performance is decreased when an individual is dehydrated by as small as 2%. Losses in excess of 5% of body mass can decrease performance by approximately 30%.

As a nutritional medicine practitioner, for every single one of my clients; water intake is an essential component of the treatment plan. It is vital for all physiological processes and is also vital for optimal psychology.