Water is the most abundant substance in the human body. It can represent up to 70% of the body's weight and is mostly found within cells. The body's fluid status is a delicate balance, so much so that experts rank water second only to oxygen as essential for life.
The average amount of water that is lost through the body on a daily basis is 2500ml. The body naturally replaces up to 200ml of that lost water, but the rest must be physically ingested. The study in 1985 performed by Armstrong et al showed that a loss of body mass through dehydration of as little as 2% significantly impairs performance.
Exercise increases muscular work and thus consequently the demand for oxygen. Three quarters of muscular activity is lost as heat and therefore sweat production is increased to maintain body temperature. The rate of respiration increases to supply sufficient oxygen to the muscles, which results in greater water loss from the lungs. The body's response to fluid loss is that of thirst by dehydration and this is what is known as a negative feedback system.
The below three reactions to dehydration stimulate the thirst centre, which is situated in the hypothalamus in the brain. This produces the sensation of thirst.
- Decreased flow of saliva
- Decreased blood volume
- Increased blood pressure
The most common signs and symptoms of dehydration are:
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Confusion/ disorientation
If water is not ingested, these symptoms may lead to ill health.
The benefits of water
The world health organisation recommends the each person drinks around two litres of water each day. If you have 4-5% less than the recommended daily allowance it can affect mental and physical performance by up to 30%.
Water can benefit the human body is many different ways. It flushes out the toxins in our bodies, which not only keeps us healthy, but stops the build up of toxins. If the toxins were left to accumulate in our bodies, it would cause dehydration and the consequent repercussions.
Water also helps to keep our digestive system work efficiently, helping to deter such diseases as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS.) It also hydrates the skin, and is known to combat skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis.
It is the ideal drink to quench your thirst while giving your body what is essential to function at its optimum efficiency.