Water. We drink it, we bathe in it, and we swim in it but what roles does it play in our body? Here are just 5 ways water keeps our body healthy and in an optimum state to function effectively.
Water helps to keep dehydration at bay and prevents nasty symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and dry skin. Most people take on board enough water throughout the day by drinking when they feel thirsty and drinking with their meals. But there are some groups of individuals which may need a little more encouragement, including the elderly and the young. Keeping yourself hydrated doesn’t mean you should only drink plain water. Instead, drinks including squash, tea and coffee all count as do watery fruits and vegetables such as strawberries and cucumber.
As well as keeping us hydrated, water helps to keep our tissues moist. Our eyes, nose and mouth can be prevented from feeling dry by keeping the body hydrated through adequate water intake. Other areas of the body which can benefit from this include the brain, blood and bones. Furthermore, our joints such as our knees, ankles and elbows are kept lubricated and cushioned by water, and it also keeps our spinal cord protected.
- Waste Removal
The obvious answer for this is, of course, the process of urination and defecation. However, adequate water intake also ensures waste is removed through sweating. The liver, kidneys and intestines also require water to flush waste from them. You may be able to prevent constipation (this is not scientifically proven) by drinking lots of water as this helps to soften your stools and facilitates the movement of food through the intestinal tract.
The first process of digestion is chewing – a process which involves saliva. The basis of saliva is water and helps to soften our food ready to be swallowed alongside enzymes which dissolve minerals and nutrients. Water helps the body to digest soluble fibre. Soluble fibre includes pectin’s and beta glucans – found in oats and fruit. In the presence of water, this fibre dissolves easily and aids your digestion by helping to form soft stools which are easy to pass.
- Regulation of Body Temperature
Generally, you should aim to drink around 1.5 litres of water per day, but we are all different. You know yourself better than anyone and will know if you feel thirsty or dehydrated. Remember, if you participate in vigorous exercise, have a fever or an illness such as vomiting and diarrhoea, you will need to replace the lost fluids. Likewise, if you are pregnant or nursing you may want to speak to your GP about increasing your fluid intake particularly if you are breastfeeding because your body will use more water than normal.