By Marita Banda
We hear and use the statement, ‘Water is life,’ in a casual manner, often without the full appreciation of the value of this essential element. After air, water is the most crucial element needed for the survival of all life forms on the planet. Early on in primary school we learn about the rain cycle; rain falls, water evaporates, condenses into clouds and repeats. However, a lot more happens. Some of the water that does not evaporate seeps into the earth which soaks it up like a sponge. This happens in places where the soil is healthy, some of it is taken up and stored by plants and the rest percolates into aquifers to be stored as groundwater.
Importance of water
In daily life, we use water for many different purposes including drinking, cleaning, cooking and other household activities. It is used in recreation, industry, agriculture, hydrotherapy and to generate hydroelectric power. Our discussion will be limited to nutritional value.
Water makes up around two thirds of our body weight, with the brain comprising 95% water and the blood 82%. Water is essential in all biochemical reactions that take place in the body. Adequate water balance is vital for efficient bodily functions. It is needed for digestion, absorption and transportation of nutrients around the body and elimination of waste through sweat, urine and faeces. Water prevents constipation, regulates body temperature and metabolism. It lubricates our joints and is the base for saliva.
Effects of water
Depending on lifestyle, health, weight, environmental conditions and a few other factors, adults generally need to regularly replenish with about 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day. Our bodies constantly lose water through respiration, perspiration, renal and gastrointestinal functions. Dehydration can cause headaches, fuzzy memory, difficulty concentrating and fatigue. Though not common, it is possible to have excess water in your body destabilising electrolyte balances creating a condition known as water intoxication. Some symptoms include confusion, nausea, vomiting and coma, and in some instances it is fatal.
Things which make water unsafe
Not all water is created equal. Safe drinking water is a vital component of nutrition. Drinking water should free from all kinds of contaminants to support proper health and wellness. Toxic bacteria, pesticides, herbicides and quite often heavy metals pollute water sources. Even water from treatment plants supplied to homes and for commercial use may not always be safe due to aging or broken pipes and other causes. If you are able, invest in a quality water filter. Drink from glass or culinary grade stainless steel containers. Plastic cups and bottles usually leach chemicals into water.
How to drink water
You can enjoy your water with a few drops of fresh lemon juice to give it some flavour. Many fresh fruits and vegetable have a high content of water. Be sure to deliberately include these in your daily diet. Caffeine free herbal teas are a good way to fulfil your daily water requirements. Carbonated drinks and coffee do not count.
To kick-start your digestion in the morning, start with two glasses of lemon water at least 15 minutes before you take your breakfast. Make this a daily habit.
The ideas and suggestions provided in this article are for information purposes only and not intended to substitute for consulting with your physician. All matters regarding your health require medical supervision. Please consult with a professional health care provider for all your health needs.
For correspondence, contact email@example.com