It’s Nutrition & Hydration week! So therefore this week’s post is all about wonderful water.
Water is formed of 2 hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom and therefore it’s chemical formula is H2O. This molecule is vital for life, and has many roles within the human body, in order to keep us alive and well, some of these are explained below:
- Cell activity – Water is the main component of our cells, it allows for movement of nutrients in and out, dissolving of glucose to use for energy and transport of minerals and vitamins.
- Hydrolysis reactions – These are chemical reactions that take place in our body that produce water. Without the presence of Hydrogen (H) and Oxygen (O) in the body, these reactions can’t take place. The breakdown and digestion of food such as fat and protein requires hydrolysis reactions.
- Digestion – Not only is water required for some breakdown reactions, it is involved with production of saliva, which contains digestive enzymes to help break down foods. Water also plays a role in maintaining a healthy bowel, for example the formation of soft stools that are easy to pass.
- Nutrient and toxin transport – Water is the main component of blood and urine, and both of these are required in the transport of nutrients. The blood carries nutrients and oxygen to our cells around the body, and picks up unwanted toxins to remove them from the body. Urine is excreted from the body and contains any excess nutrients or toxins that the body doesn’t need. Without these mechanisms we wouldn’t be able to fuel our cells or keep our bodies clear of harmful substances.
- Body temperature – When we are hot, we tend to sweat, and our skin produces water. This water then evaporates off the skin, taking heat with it. Sweating is one of our bodies mechanisms to maintain a constant internal temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius.
In order to stay hydrated, and for all these mechanisms of water to work, we must consume plenty of fluids throughout the day. Although recommended amounts vary, and specific requirements are different for each individual, we should aim to consume 2-3L water per day, keeping in mind the standard glass of water is around 250ml, or a mug of tea is around 350ml. Our fluid intake can come from both drinks and food, in fact our food contributes to around 20% of our total fluid intake each day. Many fruits and vegetables have a high water content, for example a cucumber can be around 97% water, and tomatoes and peppers around 95%.
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Remember it is also important for gut health to keep hydrated.