Water is a chemical compound that exists as a liquid in the body. It is a crucial part of the body systems and has even been called ‘the liquid of life.’
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Importance of water in health maintenance
Water has been known to prevent a number of illnesses hence restoring ones health. Most of these illnesses are; cancer of the colon, breast and the lungs. Drinking water may not necessarily eliminate the possibility of getting these cancers; it simply reduces the probability of their occurrence.
Due to the crucial role played by water, lack of it causes some immediate symptoms. First of all, one experiences headaches and fatigue. Subsequently, one may loose part of their memory and may have trouble remembering small things. Water ensures that one does not have trouble concentrating because it is said that absence of water reduces one’s concentration span. (Kent, 1997)
Constipation is prevented by water. This is done through easing digestion by providing a solvent in which the toxins can dissolve.
Water is said to be the perfect moisturizer for our skin and prevents patchiness. It is also used to control one’s emotions.
Functions of water in the body
Water has numerous bodily functions. Perhaps its most important is the fact that it is a constituent of most cells, organs and systems in the body. It is a fact that water makes up about 90% of the lungs, over ninety percent of the brain and about eighty percent of blood. There are plenty of fluids in the body that mainly consist of water; one of these is saliva.
Water is used to protect the interior organs from external shock. One such organ is the heart. In line with this role, water makes up most of the fluid that is found in between joints, as such, it is used as a lubricant to ease bodily movements.
Transportation in the body is mainly done by water. It transports waste products from their areas of production such as the kidneys to the external environment. It therefore gets rid of toxins from the body. Water also transports oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body that are in need of it. Nutrients are also transported by water from the digestive system to muscles and other body parts in need of it.
Temperature regulation is another very important function of water. It acts as a kind of thermostat in the body. When body temperature exceeds optimum levels, the body sweats. Sweat mainly consists of water which normally leaves with a lot of heat when it evaporates thus cooling the body. This property of water is called high latent heat of vaporization.
Water is used for detoxification purposes by getting rid of wastes that are carried by the intestinal tract. As such it ensures that the body is in great health.
What happens to the body when there isn’t enough water?
Lack of water in the body causes thirst. This is incase the amount of water under consideration is a small amount. The thirst then graduates to a more uncomfortable symptom; fatigue. One’s body feels restless and inactive. Eventually, headaches set in as the brain is now complaining. If the condition persists, then dizziness sets in and eventually one complains of feeling heaviness in their head. These are all signs of dehydration.
When the body is constantly denied access to water, reverse osmosis occurs. Instead of water leaving the body and getting filtered into the brain cells, the opposite occurs. Water leaves the cells and enters the system. This means that the body develops an elevated blood pressure since it is going against the norm. High blood pressure can be disastrous if allowed to continue without checking it.
There are some emotional manifestations of a lack of water in the body. One who has not had a lot of water is normally quite irritable and moody. They are quick to anger and are full of impatience.
Constant dehydration also causes a number of illnesses that may be fatal. Some of these include; weak immunity, hypertension and the very dangerous diabetes.
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How different electrolytes function in the body
Sodium is mostly obtained from salt which is a compound made of both sodium and chlorine. It is put to use in the nervous systems during transportation of a message from one part of the body to another or from the external environment to the body. These messages may include; pain, heat and electric shock. There is a need for proper electrolyte balance within the body for any stimulant to be recorded well by the body.
Potassium is used to control the sodium balance within the body to ensure that metabolic systems function well. Chlorine serves to neutralize sodium because it is negatively charged while sodium is a positively charged ion. The two complement each other and thus chlorine maintains adequate balance in the body.
Effects of alcohol and caffeine on hydration levels in the body
There’s a hormone in the body that is responsible for absorption of water back from the kidneys. It is called vasopressin. This hormone helps the body to maintain a balance of water thus preventing excessive loss. Consumption of alcohol causes a depression of Vasopressin meaning that plenty of water will not be reabsorbed and most of it will go to waste as urine. (Ellen, 1980)
Alcohol also causes severe loss in nutrients that are quite important to the body. These nutrients include; calcium, zinc, potassium and sodium. This in turn affects the body’s nervous system and balance of fluids.
It causes prolonged dehydration; this was shown in a research where people’s blood was tested. Most of them were found to have thicker blood especially due to frequent urination.
Caffeine also lowers levels of hydration. This happens by dieresis which is the process of excess absorption of water from blood in the kidneys. Caffeine also inhibits the reabsorption of sodium hence interrupting the hydration process.
Steps to be taken to ensure that one does not become dehydrated
The first step is to drink plenty of water. Doctors advise us to take about 8 glasses of water per day. This will ensure proper physical and psychological health.
One should avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks. This is because the latter mentioned substances enhance the loss of water through the kidneys and must be kept at a minimum or avoided altogether (Barbara, 2004).
If one engages in heavy activities, then one should not wear heavy clothes because they increase the rate at which a body is sweating. The more one sweats, the more the fluid they loose from the body and the more the chances of dehydration.
There are some tell – tale signs that come with hydration. Individuals must learn to recognize them as soon as possible and to do something about them. These include; patchy or dry lips, thick urine, heavy eyes and mild headaches.
Individuals must also protect themselves from excessive sunshine which brings about sweatiness hence water loss from the body. They can do this by standing under a shade when exposed.
- Barbara, K. (2004): Anatomy and Physiology the Easy Way; Barron’s Educational Series
- Ellen. E. (1980): Basic physiology and anatomy; Lippincott
- Kent, M. (1997): Schaum’s outline of theory and problems of human anatomy and physiology; McGraw-Hill Professional