How Your Body Uses Water
You probably know the statistic that the human body is 70 percent water. You definitely know that you need to drink a certain amount of water every day to ensure your body’s proper, healthy function. However, do you know why? Whether you are a high-performing athlete or a couch surfer, you need water in your system, or else you’ll suffer severe dehydration symptoms like rapid heartbeat and breathing, fainting and worse. Here’s what your body does with water, to convince you to drink a glass of the good stuff right now.
Every Single Cell Contains Water
The truth behind the well-known statistic that 70 percent of your body is water — which is actually only true in newborns; after one year, the body is only about 65 percent water, and in adult men and women, the percentages are closer to 60 and 55 — is that water is a primary component of every single cell. Water is necessary for a cell to be active and perform the chemical reactions necessary for life. When you aren’t drinking enough water, cells become desiccated; they can survive in this state for a short period, but over time, they lose their ability to function effectively and die. As you might expect, cell death is bad news for your health, so you should really start drinking more water.
You Constantly Lose Water
The water in your cells isn’t the only water in your body. In fact, you are constantly shedding water for a variety of purposes — which is why it is important that you replenish your water stores on a regular basis. Here are a few ways you are losing the water your body needs:
- Through saliva: The water in your mouth evaporates and gets expelled when you talk and eat.
- Through digestion: Any time you go to the bathroom, you lose a good amount of water.
- Through sweat: The point of sweat is to evaporate off your skin, meaning it is leaving your body.
Water Helps Regulate Body Temperature
Speaking of sweat, water inside and outside your body is used to control your temperature, so you don’t overheat or freeze to death. Your body will produce sweat when it feels warm because the evaporation of the water off your skin has a cooling effect. Without this response, you would be in danger any time you exercise, venture into a warm climate or suffer from a high fever because the body doesn’t function optimally when it is above a certain temperature range — around 98 degrees.
Your Joints Need Water to Move
Just as you might spray WD-40 on a squeaky door to make the hinge move smoother, your body often relies on water to improve the function of your joints. Wherever bones meet, such as your knees, wrists, shoulders, and spine, the body uses water to serve as both lubrication and cushion. This prevents uncomfortable (and sometimes excruciatingly painful) rubbing of tissues, which can result in degenerative diseases and arthritis.
Much of Your Blood Is Water
Blood has four main components: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. While the first three ingredients perform the functions blood is known for — transporting oxygen and nutrients, fighting infections, clotting, etc. — plasma is the least well-known, despite the fact that it constitutes the largest component of blood by far. Plasma is the liquid in which all the other parts of blood float; it helps blood move through the body and also transports nutrients like salt, proteins, and enzymes. As you might have already guessed, water makes up most of the plasma, so without water, your blood stops flowing, which is very bad news.
Water Improves Your Mood
The brain is about 73 percent water, so when you are dehydrated, your brain stops functioning as it should. Even during the first, relatively mild stages of dehydration, you might notice an impact on your mood: Dehydrated subjects report feeling a greater degree of fatigue, which typically results in irritability, depression, tension, and anxiety. Additionally, dehydrated subjects attest to having difficulty with memory and vigilance, which makes working a near impossibility. If you struggle to regulate your emotions, you might just need to drink more water.
Water isn’t the only thing your body needs to survive, but it is one of the most important things to give your body on a regular basis. You can ignore rules about eight glasses of water per day; as long as you are drinking when you feel thirsty and producing a light yellow color when you pee, you are getting enough water.
About the Author
Michale Ben is a freelance writer and nutritionist from Nevada, who has written on behalf of a range of clients including the Live Strong Network, and Demand Media. In addition to writing about a range of topics, he enjoys playing basketball and cooking in his spare time.