Susette has a lifelong interest and practice with good physical and mental health, including the environment that sustains us all.
According to medical research, water in the human body consists of an average of 57-60% of total body weight. That means almost 2/3 of our bodies is made up of water, the remaining 1/3 being solid matter and particles. Contrary to what we grew up believing, our bodies are not solids, but are clay vessels (or sponges) with intricate shapes containing mostly water.
In babies recently born the percentage of water weight is higher, averaging 75%. In sickly elders it can be as low as 45%. As we age we lose water (although we don't have to). If we smoke we lose more. If we drink alcohol or sodas excessively, we lose more. If we eat, instead of drink, what we gain in flesh we lose in fluid.
Importance of Water to the Human Body
If our bodies are nearly 2/3 liquid, then we are really a liquid body within a vessel that includes combinations of minerals and trace metals in its framework. These active elements are replaced as needed, fed by nutrients carried throughout the water body by its particle carriers.
The body's framework and its composition is not random. It is carefully chosen and programmed by our DNA to fit together in certain ways in order to perform specific functions that keep the complex that we are operating perfectly.
Children are generally healthier, smarter, more creative, and have more energy than do adults, because their bodies are freshly made. When adults take care of themselves properly, including drinking enough water, their bodies can stay fresh too.
However, over time most of us wear our bodies down by not giving them what they need to maintain themselves. This includes movement, rest, oxygen, nutritious food, and water. In addition, we feed our bodies toxins, some in food and air, that inhibit proper functioning - like medications and other drugs, alcohol, growth hormones and antibiotics in meat, and inhalants like chlorine (showers), smog, and/or factory airborne chemicals.
It is possible to clear these toxins out, once we recognize we are hurting ourselves. And it is possible to create new habits of physical maintenance that help us function more fully.
The Body as a Machine
Some say we are complex organisms that are made up of several "bodies" integrated together, acting primarily as one. Having a physical body that functions well enables our nonphysical awareness (spirit or soul) to express itself fully in concrete, physical terms - in "reality."
Our physical body, as the instrument by which we create, is much more delicate and sophisticated than the most complex computer or robot. Compared to the computer that we created to "think" like us, our body machine has many more capabilities than we are yet able to use. Some of them we know about (telekinesis, telepathy, intuition), some we are afraid of (teleportation, time travel), and some we just haven't discovered yet.
In all cases, the body needs to function optimally in order to carry out its activities, including its own maintenance. The body is programmed to have replenished itself automatically and completely every seven years, which means we should feel an ongoing freshness about our physical being. If our body goes downhill, it's because we are not caring for it as best we can. If we don't care for it well, how can it do what we ask it to do? Our whole lives are affected directly by good or poor physical maintenance.
How Much Water is Where in the Body?
Obviously water does not inhabit the body like it would a water balloon, filling a single cavity. Instead, research has shown that water is both inside and outside cells, inside and outside organs, inside and outside skin. Percentages vary, but have been averaged as follows:
|Water Inside Cells||Water||Outside||Cells|
2/3 total water weight
1/3 total water weight
Other uses like saliva or urine=1%
The Role of Water in the Body
Water plays a number of similar and vital functions in the body, both within particular organs and in general throughout. It goes by many different names, depending on where it is located and what service/s it provides for that area.
Water nourishes and cleans cells wherever in the body those cells are located. It also protects and cushions cells and blocks of cells. Here are many of the roles that water plays in its different forms:
Fleshing Out or Shaping - Water fills the cells that make up our bodies, giving it shape. Water holds organs in place and cushions impacts to minimize injury. When we wrinkle as we age, part of the cause is not enough water in that part of the body. This can occur through lack of drinking and/or from constant tension in that part of the body (among other things) that pushes away water and blood supply.
Transportation - One of water's biggest roles is that of transporting particles and chemicals all over the body. Whether contained in blood or other vessels or floating between cells, water transports objects like nutrients, wastes, fighter white cells, oxygen carriers, and other elements necessary for body health. Water's name changes depending partly on what it is carrying where.
Cleansing - Water between cells swooshes in and out of cell membranes as we move and exercise, taking nutrients in and washing wastes out. It then transports wastes to the nearest elimination system - the skin or via the blood to the kidneys and bladder. Gaseous wastes (carbon dioxide) are taken to the lungs to be eliminated. This is why drinking water after a massage or exercise is necessary - otherwise wastes stay stuck in the muscles, causing pain.
Lubrication - Some parts of the body need lubrication to keep them free to move. The eyes use tears for lubrication. Each of the joints also uses water. Joints become stiff not just because of calcium buildup, but also because of a lack of water. The lungs use water for lubrication (allows them to expand and contract with the diaphragm), as do the nasal passages, mouth, and throat.
Elimination - Sweat glands help eliminate toxins near the skin. The bladder uses water to carry wastes gleaned from the blood out of the body. In the colon water is sucked up into the body, but enough is left to carry food wastes out (stools).
Temperature Balance - The final main role that water plays is to keep the temperature of our bodies in balance. On hot days we sweat water, which cools us as air moves across the skin surface and it evaporates. When we have an internal fever that heats our body beyond its normal tolerance, we sweat to remove heat from inside to outside. That's why it's important to drink extra water when we have a fever. When a woman goes through menopause, her body heats up with all the chemical changes going on and sweats to relieve it (often profusely).
You may be thinking, by now, that this is an awful lot of water doing an awful lot in your body, so why haven't you heard more about it before? You have, but using different terminology. It starts out with the word "fluid" replacing the word "water," indicating that there are other things included with it.
Human Body Fluids
Humans have given specific names to water in the body, depending on the particles it carries and the functions it plays within a particular area. Here are some of those names and functions, in no particular order:
Cytosol (Intracellular Fluid) - This is the 2/3 of water mentioned above that is contained within cells, within which cell particles move (neurons, protons, electrons). It cushions and creates the shape of a cell, among other things. According to Wikipedia, "Although water forms the large majority of the cytosol, its structure and properties within cells is not well understood."
Interstitial Fluid - This water is outside of and between cells. It cushions, cleans, and feeds cells, via osmosis, throughout the body.
Blood Plasma - Water carrying a mixture of red blood cells (transporting oxygen), white blood cells (for disease prevention), platelets, electrolytes, and proteins. A normal adult body holds about 10 pints of blood (5 liters) circulating through its many veins, arteries, and capillaries.
Cerebrospinal Fluid - Water between the skull and brain, in the folds of the brain, and inside the spinal chord that cushions and protects the brain and nerves. It also cleans out wastes, carrying them through the bloodstream to the kidneys or the lymphatic system leading to the nose. This is why prolonged periods of intense mental activity or a release of charged memories often results in colds.
Sweat - Water that is released by the skin to cool it down during fever or hot weather. It also releases wastes from skin cells. Sweat is one of the four elimination systems of the body, the other three being the bowels, bladder, and lungs.
Urine - Water carrying cellular wastes and dead viruses out of the body. Wastes are filtered out of the blood by the kidneys, which sends them to the bladder with enough water to eliminate them. When not enough water is present in the body, wastes have to be held inside in the bladder until there is enough. Usually one's urine is dark yellow then, which indicates that the body is lacking in water.
Chyme - Water in the digestive system that is mixed with partly digested food and the acids, enzymes, and other juices that break food down into components usable by the body. Chyme passes from the stomach through the small intestines to the large one (colon), where most of the water is reabsorbed into the body and the rest, with undigested wastes, is eliminated.
Peritoneal Fluid - Water that cushions the abdominal organs. In the abdomen there is a membrane (peritoneum) that holds all the guts together. The peritoneal fluid fills the space inside this membrane to keep digestive organs cushioned and packed in place, like a can of sardines. When water is sucked back into the body from the colon, this is where it goes.
Pleural Fluid - Water that cushions the lungs. Similar to peritoneal fluid, a few milliliters of water fills pleural sacs that cushion the lungs in the upper rib cavity, holding them in place and protecting them from damage.
Ocular Fluid & Tears - Water inside the eyeball (aqueous and vitreous humors) keeps the pressure even, so vision is clear; and water outside of the eyeball keeps the outer membrane clean and lubricated, so the eyeball can turn easily from side to side.
Water and Body Weight
Because water is the most prevalent component of the body, and plays such a pivotal role in so many bodily functions, it is crucial to keep a ready supply. Too many people forget about water when they think about keeping their bodies healthy, but consider this:
Children in Africa die en masse when a diarrhea epidemic goes around. It's not the virus that kills them, it's the lack of water - without water the body cannot function. The information above has hopefully shown why.
How do you know if you're drinking enough water? The body gives signals when it's thirsty. It also signals when it's hungry. If someone can't tell the difference - a common occurrence - they will eat instead of drink. But eating uses up water, so the body becomes more dehydrated. It will give stronger signals, the person will eat more, and the classic, "Why am I always hungry?" syndrome ensues that results in weight gain.
Among other signals, gaining weight can be an indication that you are not drinking enough water. Dry mouth, nose, eyes, and/or skin is another indicator. Dark yellow urine is a third. Establish a habit of drinking water regularly, and there will be no need to wait for one of these signals to tell you your body is thirsty.
If you've already waited until you have all three, it's important to drink several quarts of water over the next few days to catch up. Be sure to add a pinch of sea salt to keep the salt/water balance your body needs and give it a touch of alkalinity. Do some gentle exercising as well, so the water you drink can catch up with cleaning out cells. Although water is not an overall panacea, it is a crucial enough component of the body to warrant starting any health regime by replenishing it first.
Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on June 26, 2020:
Excellent and informative article. I will begin drinking more water starting now!
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on July 25, 2015:
Our bodies do regulate the amount of water they retain, and they do give signals when we need more. But do we pay attention? That's the real question. We need to become more sensitive to the signals our bodies send our brains. Thanks for reading adevwriting.
Arun Dev from United Countries of the World on July 24, 2015:
It is true that a person must keep himself/herself well hydrated. Water consumption should be regulated optimally. To less of it leads to dehydration and too much of water consumption leads to an osmotic shock.
Leah Lefler from Western New York on December 30, 2012:
This is a great reminder to keep our bodies hydrated! Water is such a huge component of our bodies and is vital for our health. Thanks for the great hub, watergeek!
Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on December 29, 2012:
Very informative, watergeek. Water is so important for our bodies, and you have an extensive list which proves it.
Very useful - voting up.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on December 20, 2012:
Hahaha, Russ. I can see the scotch making your water more interesting to drink. Thanks to both of you for reading and commenting. Here's to having fun staying healthy!
Russ Moran - The Write Stuff from Long Island, New York on December 20, 2012:
Very well done Susette, as usual. I always keep a bottle of water at my desk and sip regularly. Adding a bit of scotch works too!
Bopi-Cheppu from San Antonio, TX, U.S.A on December 20, 2012:
Awesome! This hub is informative for me. Thanks for your effort.