Why is water so important to human beings?

It’s what we’re made of, literally - human beings are 60% water

Diane Hall

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Water

Though it may seem as if we have all the water we need, given that it counts for more than half our body’s make-up, getting enough fluid is vital for us to function well.


A person can go without food for around a month in a survival situation; however, they would only last a few days if they had no water. Dehydration is deadlier than starvation, yet we take our water supply for granted much more than our access to food.


Water helps with our blood flow and ensures our vital organs function well. It aids digestion and helps us produce saliva, to better consume the food we eat (which is probably why we opt for a drink with our meals). It helps us masticate, i.e. get our food down in the first place, and also helps our bodies extract the nutrients we need. It then helps to flush out what’s left over, via the production of urine, and also by softening our stools so that we can pass them easily. Lovely, eh?


Water helps to regulate body temperature. Should we find ourselves in a warm environment, our bodies will sweat to cool us down; if we don’t replenish the fluid we lose in this process, we may begin to feel unwell. A lack of water can also impact our understanding and memory. We may feel less alert and our ability to remember things could suffer if we’re dehydrated.


How supple we are relies on our consumption of water. Our joints and bones risk turning brittle if we don’t drink enough. Athletes are programmed to drink more than the average person, because they lose so much body fluid when exercising. Maintaining an optimum level of water also boosts their stamina and adrenaline production.



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Water droplet creating a splash

Water droplet creating a splash

Given that water boosts energy, it’s no surprise that it aids our immunity to certain illnesses. If we take in enough water, we may be able to stave off colds and viruses better than someone who doesn’t. A person who is adequately hydrated will be healthier and more adept at producing antibodies to fight illness; though drinking lots of water won’t guarantee that you’ll never feel under the weather or contract a disease, if your body is functioning like a well-oiled machine, you’re more likely to bounce back to health.


In the UK, it’s recommended that we drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. It should be noted that drinking too much water can also be detrimental; it can impact your body’s sodium levels and could even result in death. 


We can get some of our daily intake from the food we eat (about 20%). A lettuce, for example, is made up of 95% water, whilst a loaf of bread typically contains 60% water. Though tap or bottled water is recommended, fluid from tea, coffee, squash, etc. counts towards our daily intake.

A good rule of thumb that can indicate whether you’re getting enough water or not is to look at the colour of your urine. If it’s almost colourless or a pale yellow colour, you’re doing fine; if it’s dark yellow or cloudy, you may want to drink more water and also arrange a check-up with your GP, just to be on the safe side.


As the UK government argues over trade channels and makes new import/export agreements now that we’ve left the EU, the general public’s worry tends to be about food shortages. Though important, we should also be ensuring our access to water is just as robust. Yes, it falls from the sky and we’re surrounded by it, but it doesn’t constantly rain and rainwater/sea water needs treating/filtering before we can consume it. Management of our country’s water supply, therefore, should be just as important.

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