Water is arguably one of the most important chemical compounds to source and sustain life on Earth. Specifically in humans, water makes up a whopping two thirds of body fluid. This week we take a look at the role of water in the human body and the importance of drinking enough water.
Water acts an internal janitor for waste products in the blood, aids in joint lubrication, salt concentration control and contributes largely to skin moisture and radiance. The recommended daily water intake is approximately 8-10 glasses: equivalent to 1.6 to 2 litres per day. A British study found that less than 1% of participants met the recommended daily water intake; 1 in 10 drank up to a third of the recommended daily amount . Most people (6 in 10) were found to drink a glass or bottle of water a day  suggesting that the majority of people are not drinking enough water on a daily basis. Since most people are surviving this way surely something is better than nothing. Right?
What happens when there's an under-supply of water?
An under-supply of water to the body system can result in dehydration: a state in which the body begins to lose water faster than it can be replaced it. Normal bodily functions such as sweating, urinating and breathing result in the loss of water. In excess, these functions can contribute to a range of symptoms pertinent to dehydration. Signs of dehydration include headaches, a lack of energy, dizziness as well as dry mouth and/or eyes. Dull, tired looking skin with dark under-eye circles are also indicative of inadequate water uptake. Bowel and bladder functions are also impacted by dehydration where such symptoms could manifest into conditions such as constipation and urinary tract infections.
Cases of severe dehydration that require hospital admission exhibit liver, kidney and muscle damage however, dehydration is typically rectifiable and avoidable by consuming more water daily or electrolyte filled mixtures available at pharmacies and hospitals.
Are there any other way to get water in your system?
Obtaining water doesn’t have to be a boring glass of tap water. There are multiple water-rich fruits and vegetables to choose from such as watermelon, grapes, kiwi, lettuce, cucumber; and even that pesky celery you avoided all through childhood! Juices and squash, although good alternatives, tend to have additional sugars that can be bad for your teeth and health overall so try to dilute them with some water. If you find it difficult to fit this new habit into your busy schedule, there are multiple free apps available to remind you when to drink water, making easier to start drinking more (links to these apps will be listed down below).
Are you consuming enough water?
Urine acts the most accurate measure of insufficient water availability. The darker the urine, the more dehydrated one is. This is due to a process called ‘Osmoregulation’, controlled by the brain to balance the body fluid ratio of salts and water via the kidney. This system allows the retaining or the expelling of these substances to maintain a constant substance concentration. For instance, the more salt there is in the body in comparison to water, the more salt will be expelled in urine to increase the water concentration in the blood to a more balanced level. This causes the darker urine seen in dehydrated cases. The goal would to be to expel pale yellow urine, that would indicate the inverse: that the body has more water to sustain itself in comparison to salts, therefore expels more water to increase the level of salts.
The 'bare minimum' effort put into the care of one's health must come to an end. The human body, that is practically made of water, needs a regular supply of more to help it function optimally. Common issues faced by the population, such as low energy and headaches, have the most natural and powerful remedy readily available from a tap! So let's challenge each other to take our self-care one step further and hydrate.
 Hinde, N. (2014). We Aren't Drinking Enough Water, Reveals A New Study. So What Is The Recommended Amount? Accessed at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/11/07/how-many-glasses-of-water_n_6119754.html
More information about drinking water:
Free Water Reminder App, Culligan Water
Dehydration Impacts on the Bladder and Bowel, Bladder and Bowel
Benefits of Hydration on Body, NHS Inform
By Lela Pea, Editor