Water is virtually everywhere, from soil moisture and ice-caps to the cells inside our own bodies. On a normal, day-to-day basis, maintaining a well-hydrated system is easy to manage for those of us fortunate enough to have access to clean drinking water. So what role does water play in our bodies , and how much do we actually need to drink to stay healthy?
1. Depending on factors like location, fat index, age and sex, the average human is between 55 and 60% water.
2. At birth, human babies are even wetter – being 75% water they are swimmingly similar to fish – but their water composition drops to 65% by their first birthday.
3. The H2O in our bodies works to cushion and lubricate joints, regulate temperature and to nourish the brain and spinal cord.
4. Water isn’t only in our blood: an adult’s brain and heart are almost three-quarters water – that’s roughly equivalent to the amount of moisture in a banana.
5. Lungs are 83% water, which is roughly the amount of moisture in an apple.
6. Even seemingly dry human bones are 31% water.
7. Each day we lose 2 to 3 liters through our sweat, urine and bowel movements, and even just from breathing. While these functions are essential to our survival, we need to compensate for the fluid loss.
8. Maintaining a balanced water level is essential to avoid dehydration or overhydration – both of which can have devastating effects on overall health. Increased dehydration can cause notable drops in energy, mood, skin moisture and blood pressure as well as signs of cognitive impairment. In fact, a dehydrated brain works harder to accomplish the same amount as a normal brain – and it even temporarily shrinks because of its lack of water.
9. For a long time, conventional wisdom said that we should drink eight glasses a day. That estimate has since been fine-tuned; now the consensus is that the amount of water we need to imbibe depends largely on our weight and environment. The recommended daily intake varies from between 2.5 to 3.7 liters of water for men and about 2 to 2.7 liters for women – a range that is pushed up or down if we are healthy, active, old or overheating. But don’t go crazy – it’s possible to overhydrate if you consume too much water in a short amount of time – a risk mostly encountered by athletes because of complications in regulating water levels in extreme physical conditions.
10. Water within food makes up about a fifth of our daily H20 intake. Fruits and vegetables like strawberries, cucumbers and even broccoli are over 90% water and can supplement liquid intake while providing valuable nutrients and fiber.
Drinking well might also have various long-term benefits. Studies have shown that optimal hydration can lower the chance of stroke, help manage diabetes and potentially reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. No matter what, getting the right amount of liquid makes a world of difference in how you’ll feel, think and function day-to-day.
From the TED-Ed Lesson What would happen if you didn’t drink water? – Mia Nacamulli