Water is Essential to Life
The human body is approximately 70% water by weight. You may thinking “Seriously?” Well yes, seriously! This water is necessary in almost every aspect of your body, its functions and your survival and comfort. Water is necessary to regulate your body’s temperature, cushion your joints, lubricate your eyes, optimize your kidney function, eliminate waste, etc. If you can think of a bodily function, water is probably involved. Water is absolutely essential to life. You take water in mainly by eating and drinking. You breathe water out (respiration) and water evaporates through the skin (perspiration). You also lose water in your urine and waste.
If you let yourself become dehydrated for any length of time, you begin to create a toxicity crisis in your body. Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and many other chronic forms of disease are preceded by years of not getting enough water in your system. Bacteria, viruses, and infections cannot thrive in a well-hydrated body. Therefore, drinking enough water is one of the most effective disease-prevention measures you can take.
Water and Your Kidneys
Your body has to work very hard to keep its internal body fluids at a constant concentration as well as its electrolytes in balance, but this work occurs without you even being aware of it. It needs to maintain a precise volume of blood, and this blood needs to be maintained a fairly precise concentration level. Yet, how do you maintain the volume and concentration of blood just so? Have you ever wondered why your blood, saliva, and other bodily fluids are not thick like mud or thin like water? It is because your kidneys are secretly slaving away.
Let’s take a look at two guys about to go workout, Sam and John. Sam has not had any water and works out strenuously losing water via respiration and perspiration. Sam is becoming dehydrated, he will produce very little urine, small in volume, dark in color and the urine will have an odor. However, John has been drinking lots of water and is working out the same duration and intensity as Sam. John loses just as much water through respiration and perspiration (possibly more because he wasn’t dehydrated), but John’s urine will be larger in volume, clearer in color and possibly odorless. Why?
The fact that John’s kidneys are releasing more urine indicates that his body is well hydrated. Kidneys regulate how much urine is produced. John’s kidneys determined how much of the water consumed was necessary to keep his blood at a constant volume and concentration.
Your kidneys process your entire body’s blood supply 15 times every hour. This means by the time you are 85 years old, your kidneys will have processed your entire blood supply over 10.5 million times! That is a lot of work for two little organs the size of your fist. If you are not properly hydrated, your kidneys cannot do their job properly, causing your blood volume and concentration to be compromised. The scary thought is that you could lose 90% of your kidney function before you are even aware there is anything wrong.
Let’s go back to Sam and John. If they both drink a gallon of water each, Sam, who was dehydrated, would notice that he is gradually producing more urine that is getting lighter in color. This would indicate that his body is using the water to remedy the state of dehydration in his body. His blood would be able to return to a safe volume and concentration. John, who was already well hydrated, would produce close to equal the amount of urine as the gallon of water he just drank, because his body was already very close to homeostasis – which means his blood was at the correct volume and concentration for his body.
Putting it in simpler terms, dehydration is an imbalance of fluids within the body between the amount of water that is taken in and the amount of water that is lost by the body. There are a number of ways through which our bodies lose water. These include breathing, sweating, passing urine or stools, fever, heat exposure, excessive exercise, vomiting, diarrhea, diabetes and even various infections. Although, most may have a fair idea of what dehydration is and what causes it, we often don’t realize just how serious it can be and that inadequate water can, and will actually lead to extremely critical conditions including the onset of disease. Understanding the multitude of functions water is responsible for within our bodies ensures we’re better equipped with the knowledge to make healthier decisions when it comes to what we drink and choosing to stay hydrated.