Water is life, this we know. But did you know that water is sticky and can defy gravity? Astounding both in nature and in our bodies, water is as fascinating as it is good for you.
Stick around while we explore everything from the lesser known oddities of water to the role it can play in your weight loss plan.
Why does your body need water?
To start with, water makes up a large percentage of your body. Your brain and heart are composed of 73% water, your lungs are about 83% water, the skin 64%, and muscles and kidneys are 79% water.
Even your bones consist of 31% water. The total percentage of water in the human body is 60%. Believe it or not, more than half of you is water, and for good reason.
|How many litres of water are in your body?|
You can calculate the amount of water in your own body using the Watson formula.
If you are a man:2.447 – (0.09156 x age) + (0.1074 x height in centimetres) + (0.3362 x weight in kilograms) = total body water (TBW) in liters.
If you are a woman: –2.097 + (0.1069 x height in centimeters) + (0.2466 x weight in kilograms) = total body water (TBW) in liters.
Water is needed throughout your body to ensure that everything works the way it should. These are some of the functions of water in the body:
- We all know the discomfort from a dry mouth, eyes or nose. Water keeps these areas moist.
- Water lubricates your joints.
- Water assists with the digestion of food and can help prevent constipation.
- Your tissues, spinal cord and joints are protected by surrounding water which acts as a shock absorber.
- The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolised and transported by water in the bloodstream.
- Water regulates body temperature via sweating and respiration.
- Water flushes out waste via urine and faeces.
- Water carries oxygen to where it is needed in the body.
Should you really drink eight glasses of water per day?
Many of us were taught this water ‘rule’ growing up, sometimes even in school. But is the eight-glasses-of-water-per-day rule backed by science?
This part of the recommendation stuck, but everyone forgot about the next sentence, which stated: “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.”
The fact is that there is no scientific study that backs the claim that you need eight glasses per day. It probably won’t affect you negatively though if you do want to drink eight glasses every day.
The amount of water you need daily to replenish moisture lost by breathing, sweating, urine and faeces will depend on certain individual factors, such as the following:
- The harder you exercise, the thirstier you become. Any physical activity that makes you sweat will lead to increased water needs.
- Sweating also occurs as a result of hot temperatures, which is why we are always advised to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during warm weather.
- Certain medical conditions can affect the amount of water you need. If you have a fever, are vomiting or suffering from diarrhoea, your body loses fluids.
Conditions such as bladder infections or urinary tract stones can require increased fluid intake, and this should be discussed with your doctor.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you might need more water than usual.
There are various online calculators available to help you determine exactly how much water you should be drinking per day.
Here, for example, you are required to enter your gender, age, height, weight, activity level, as well as which liquid beverages you consume daily.
The results advise on your hydration status as well as how many calories you are consuming through liquids. The calculator here just asks for your weight and activity level.
Most experts seem to agree that you need between two and four litres of water per day, depending on the above-mentioned factors.
Proper hydration is vital for survival, and our bodies are well-equipped to inform us that we are thirsty long before we risk dehydration.
Drinking when your body tells you to will keep you alive, but drinking the recommended amount of water will keep every part of you functioning at its best.
A drop of only 1% in our total body water content can negatively influence our cognitive ability and mood.
|Is sparkling water as good as regular water?|
If you prefer your beverages bubbly, there is some good news. Sparkling water hydrates you just as well as normal water, and doesn’t have harmful qualities.
If you are counting calories or watching your health in general it’s a good idea to read the label of your sparkling water to ensure that it doesn’t contain added sugars.
What happens when you drink too much water?
It’s not common, but it is possible to overhydrate.
The first signs of overhydration are headaches, nausea and vomiting. In more severe cases this could be followed by drowsiness, double vision, confusion, difficulty breathing, increased blood pressure and cramping.
Drinking too much water increases the amount of water in the blood. This dilutes the sodium in your blood, explains MedicalNewsToday.
Sodium helps maintain the balance of fluids inside and outside of cells. When sodium levels drop due to excessive water intake, fluids can travel from outside to inside cells, causing them to swell.
This kind of swelling in brain cells is dangerous, and could even be fatal.
An easy way to monitor your water consumption is to keep an eye on the colour of your urine. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t want it to be as clear as water.
Normal urine is pale yellow to tea-coloured, and clear urine indicates that you could reduce the amount of water you drink. If your urine is dark yellow it’s definitely time to work on increasing your water intake.
|15 facts about water that may surprise you|
Hot water freezes faster than cold water, and science can’t explain why. This is known as the Mpemba effect, named after the Tanzanian student who discovered it.
Water molecules can stick to each other and defy gravity, as mentioned earlier.
This is called capillary action and is the mechanism that allows plants to move water from their roots to their leaves.
You can use boiling water to make instant snow by throwing it in the air when it is extremely cold outside.
This won’t work with cold water. This is because boiling water is closer to turning into water vapor.
Many liquids turn solid when chilled to their freezing point. Water can be cooled to much colder than its freezing point, and still remain a liquid. Upon disturbing it it will quickly turn to ice.
In small amounts water appears colourless, but it is actually blue.
When water freezes it increases in volume by 9%. However, frozen water is lighter than the liquid and floats on it.
Humans can go a few weeks without food, but after only about three days without water your organs will start shutting down.
Newborns have a higher percentage of water in their bodies than adults – 78%.
Water covers just over 70% of the Earth’s surface. Ninety-seven percent of the Earth’s water is found in the ocean and 2.5% is unavailable fresh water. Only 0.5% is fresh water that we can use.
Frozen water has been discovered on the moon.
Water dissolves more substances than any other liquid.
Pure water has a neutral pH of 7. That is neither acidic nor basic.
Pure water does not conduct electricity. Water only becomes a conductor once it starts dissolving substances around it.
Water has a high heat index, which means it absorbs a lot of heat before it starts to get hot.
Sources: https://snowbrains.com/eight-weird-facts-about-water-you-didnt-know/; https://www.thoughtco.com/weird-and-interesting-water-facts-4093451; https://www.treehugger.com/eye-opening-facts-about-water-4858731; https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/facts-about-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
Can water help you to lose weight?
Almost every weight loss plan will advise that you drink plenty of water. And science confirms: water can help you to lose weight.
Water itself is not going to instantly burn away kilograms of fat, but it will aid you in your weight-loss journey in the following ways:
- A 2016 study showed that people who drank two glasses of water before a meal ate 22% less than those who didn’t.
Water helps your brain to register fullness, and often we confuse thirst for hunger. So, if you are trying to lose weight, try to drink two glasses of water when you feel those hunger pangs.
- Drinking water instead of other beverages is an easy way to cut calories.
We often don’t realise how many calories we consume via liquids. Fruit juice, for example, may appear healthy and perfect for your diet, but many of them have a high sugar content.
- Water not only helps you to exercise, but also makes your workouts more effective.
It dissolves electrolytes and distributes them throughout the body, where their electrical energy triggers muscle contractions for movement. This prevents cramping.
Furthermore, when muscle cells are dehydrated, they break down protein quicker and build muscle slower.
- A 2016 mini-review showed that drinking more water may increase lipolysis, which is the process in which the body burns fat for energy.
- Too little water in your diet will make you feel tired, sluggish and stressed. This will immediately affect your ability to make healthy food choices as well as your motivation levels.
What if you hate the taste of water?
Many people find water refreshing and satisfying, but there are those who simply don’t like the taste. Don’t despair, there are low-calorie ways to flavour water.
Depending on what you like, you could infuse your water with citrus flavours (lemon or orange), berries, pineapple, melon and cucumber.
Fresh mint leaves work well, and can be combined with lemon in some sparkling water – and you almost have yourself a virgin mojito. You can also try basil, ginger or rosemary.
A little bit of rose water gives a delightful flavour. You can even get fancy, chop up your chosen fruit/beg/herb and add it to the water in your ice tray to create your own flavour cubes.
Another option is to purchase water flavour drops, which are available at Dis-chem and Spar, among others. These come in a variety of flavours to choose from.
Next time you are aimlessly browsing the internet, go have a look at what a drop of untreated water looks like under a microscope. You will be amazed to find it teeming with tiny lives.
The wonders of water are vast and it supports life in all its forms. Enjoy it daily and you are sure to reap the benefits.