Importance of Water & Electrolytes
Importance of water- A Water molecule is made up of 2 atoms of hydrogen and 1 atom of oxygen having chemical formula H2O. It is an inorganic, tasteless and odorless chemical substance. We can survive without food for several days but we cannot survive without water.
Water provides 0 or zero calories to us. It doesn’t give energy to us but it helps in providing energy and so it must fall in the category of “macronutrient”.
The definition of fluid contains solute particles in water mainly electrolytes, red blood cells, white blood cells etc in it. Any liquid substance containing solid particles become liquid. Eg. Lemon water. There was a man who got stuck on an island in the middle of an ocean. He could not drink salty water of the ocean. So, he survived by consuming tortoise’s blood because of the electrolytes present in it.
Importance of Water
- Water is a universal solvent. Any solute can be added to it with the help of emulsifier!
- It helps in providing energy during glycolysis in aerobic state. It is responsible for the reactions taking place inside the human cells so that energy can be created.
- Enzymes like pancreatic amylase, pepsin, trypsin etc have water as their base.
- Our blood is fluidic in nature and that is how it aids in transportation.
- Water transports various nutrients such as amino acids, fatty acids, glucose, vitamins, minerals etc. To give an example, in my previous blog, “Importance of Protein and Amino Acids”, I gave an overview that various amino acids come together to make different antibodies, hormones, enzymes, muscles, organs etc in our body. All these have to travel to different places so to perform their function and water is responsible for their transportation.
- It maintains temperature of our body.
- Water plays a crucial role in digestion and all metabolic reactions to take place within the body. It acts a strong base.
Importance of water continued…
- It transfers waste materials out of the body through urine, faeces or sweat.
- Gravels and stones are transformed into sand as water mobilizes them.
- In BIA i.e. Bioimpedance Analysis, the hydration state of a person determines body fat percentage.
- Solute particles such as electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium etc), red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets cannot move within our body without water.
Is there any electricity existing inside our body? Yes, electricity does exist inside our body. We all once experience mild electric shock while touching someone. This is because our body along with a good electricity conductor is also a good electricity generator. For example. Our heart works on the electricity flowing in our body generated through SA Node in the heart. Similarly, our muscle also requires continuous flow of electricity to contract.
Pure or distilled water is a poor conductor of electricity. But upon adding salt to pure water, it becomes a good conductor of electricity. Salt is responsible for the flow of electricity within the body due to its charges. And that is why each cell of our body holds salty water naturally. Here the salt which I am referring to is the black and white salt available in every household.
White salt is also known as table salt or NaCl (sodium chloride). Another name for black salt is KCl (potassium chloride). Remember these two salts make the flow of electricity efficient helping our body systems to function in an efficient way. That is why our body consists of salty water within and outside each cell.
What Are Electrolytes?
Our nerves continuously send impulses or messages to different organs like muscles, organs etc. due to which they function in an organised manner. Electrolytes are minerals that conduct electricity within the body as they have electric charges on them (+ or -). They act as a medium to transfer such messages. Deficiency of electrolytes can hamper transfer of messages leading to improper functioning of the muscles as well as other organs.
The best traditional method to replenish electrolyte level is consuming salty lemon water. Whenever we perform any exercises such as strength training or cardiorespiratory exercises viz. running, cycling, swimming, we tend to sweat a lot. One of the reasons for heavy sweating is wearing too many clothes during workout.
The More You Sweat, The More You Lose Fat!
Many people believe the more they sweat, the more they will lose fat. But this is not true! Sweating is a cooling mechanism of body. The loss in weight which we observe immediately after workout is not due to loss of fat but water and electrolytes. The most important electrolyte is sodium.
We can observe white patches of the sweat on our clothes. We often consume plain water which will again move out electrolytes out of the body. This causes severe dehydration so to avoid it, we must consume salty lemon water or ORS which is an ideal method to replenish electrolytes.
Effects of Dehydration
- Decrease in water level leads to reduced blood volume and blood circulation. Due to this, nutrition will not be able to move to muscles and other organs.
- Thickened blood will hamper the pumping of blood in antigravity veins. Varicose veins is a classic example.
- Most importantly, dehydration affects physical appearance of an individual to a greater extent.
- Abdominal Cramping or Muscle Cramps
- Blackout, poor muscle contraction
- Irregular neuromuscular transmission
How much Water should I drink in a Day?
Well, the fact is that we must consume water as per our thirst! We must listen to our body and never ignore the signals or indications our hormones give. Human body is a smart machine in which our hormones play a crucial role. Hunger hormone tells us to eat and Satiety hormone tells us to stop eating. That is how we get indications for the thirst as well.
Many people are not able to understand when they are thirsty. This happens as they get into the habit of ignoring their thirst and not drinking water. So one can have at least around 3 litre of water in a day!