Sep 25, 2020 - 5 min read
There are approximately 1.5 sextillion (1,500,000,000,000,000,000,000) litres of water on Earth.
Water plays a hugely important role in our lives. We use water for energy production, transportation, recreation, washing, and consumption. According to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), access to drinking water is a basic human right.
Every living organism on Earth needs water to survive. This inorganic compound is vital for every function of the body, including digestion, absorption, circulation, temperature control, cognition, joint protection, and excretion. Water makes up between 50% and 75% of a human body – the water content being highest at birth and diminishing with age.
Let’s have a look at the link between hydration and wellbeing.
Water makes up around 78% of our blood – approximately 95% of plasma, the liquid constituent of blood. Blood carries dissolved nutrients and oxygen to every cell in the body, and it takes away waste products, including carbon dioxide.
Having transported oxygen and nutrients to trillions of cells, blood is filtered by the kidneys, and the waste products are excreted through the urinary system. Minerals are dissolved in the urine (which comprises 91% to 96% water) and are flushed out of our bodies in the 1-2 litres of urine that we pass daily.
However, when blood is inadequately diluted, it reduces in volume and thickens. The heart then has to work harder to pump blood around the body. Palpitations and fatigue can be symptoms of dehydration.
Low dilution of urine means that minerals might not be thoroughly dissolved and flushed out, which can lead to crystallisation and urinary stones.
Higher volumes of urine also help to prevent infection. The more often we urinate and wash away bacteria, fungi, and viruses from our urinary system, the less chance there is of an infection developing.
Water plays an important part in the metabolism (breaking down) of nutrients, in order that they can be absorbed into the blood; and it’s essential for the production of saliva and the digestion of soluble fibre.
Besides its role in the mechanics of digestion, water acts as a lubricant within the digestive tract, facilitating the process of moving matter through the intestines. The water content in stool helps to keep it soft and easy to pass.
The tissue of a healthy digestive tract is soft and pliable. If the tissue is dry, it will absorb the water it needs from the contents, leaving insufficient water for effective digestion and lubrication. Constipation and dry, hard stool are symptoms of dehydration.
Synovia is a viscous fluid in cartilage that lubricates and cushions joints and spinal discs, reducing friction and absorbing shock. A deficiency of synovial fluid can accelerate the natural wear and tear of joints.
And what’s the chief component of synovial fluid? That’s right: water.
Water is vital in the creation of neurotransmitters – the power behind cognitive function. It’s also essential for the production of hormones, which regulate other bodily functions. An adult brain is around 75% water, but the brain has no storage solution for water; there must, then, be a constant supply of it.
As we’ve seen, water is vital for the conduit of oxygen to every cell in the body. The brain receives 20% of the oxygen supply. Thinking hard uses up more oxygen, so an efficient blood supply is an important factor in a well-functioning brain – a factor that also relies on good hydration.
Dehydration can negatively affect the production of neurotransmitters and hormones and reduce blood flow to the brain, causing confusion, lack of concentration, poor memory, inability to think logically, anxiety, stress, fatigue, and insomnia.
Between the meninges, surrounding the brain, cerebrospinal fluid acts as a shock absorber, protecting this most vulnerable organ from impact. When we’re dehydrated, the volume of cerebrospinal fluid reduces, causing headaches. Cerebrospinal fluid is 99% water.
One of the skin’s functions is temperature regulation. When we get too hot, our skin secretes fluid from the eccrine (sweat) glands. Through the process of evaporative cooling (transference of heat energy with the evaporation of the sweat), we cool down a little.
When we’re dehydrated, our skin loses moisture. If a dehydrated body becomes over-heated, it won’t perspire normally, which could be dangerous. Perspiration is also a method of excretion, and, just as with urination and defecation, a lack of water could mean that toxins aren’t being excreted.
When you drink cold water, you burn calories to bring the water up to body temperature. Any other cold drink, of course, will add more calories than it takes to warm the fluid. (For the same reason, adventurers in cold climates will heat snow before consuming it so as to preserve energy.)
Regular water intake will take the edge off your appetite, helping to reduce the amount you eat, as well as boosting your hydration levels. A few studies have concluded that drinking water speeds up metabolic rate, but there’s no real evidence to support this.
The water we find in streams and rivers and wells and springs and taps is not pure water. It’s not simply H2O. Bottled spring water and tap water contain minerals such as magnesium, calcium, sodium, zinc, copper, fluoride, and potassium.
However, inorganic substances aren’t alone in drinking water.
Purification separates water from microscopic bacteria, algae, fungi, and minerals. Purified water is, purely, H2O and nothing else. Some people hold the opinion that the absence of minerals is detrimental to health; but the tiny amounts that occur in water can be more than made up for in the food we eat.
The big difference in purified water is the taste. Water has a variety of tastes, determined by the mineral content. Pure water, however, has no taste. The sheer delight in a glass of chilled, crystal-clear water is equal to the pleasure of the most delicious taste.
Access to pure, chilled water in the workplace promotes the health of the whole team. A high level of cognitive function and general well-being is conducive to productivity, innovation, and good attendance. We think that water should be on tap in every single place of work!