Why do we need to drink water?
Water is needed by all the cells and organs in the body in order for them to function properly. It is also used to lubricate the joints, protect the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, regulate body temperature and assist the passage of food through the intestines. During normal everyday functioning, water is lost by the body, and this needs to be replaced. It is noticeable that we lose water through activities such as sweating and urination, but water is ever lost when breathing. According to the institute of Medicine, an adequate intake for men is approximately 13 cups a day. For women, an adequate intake is around 9 cups. Water also helps dissolve minerals and nutrients so that they are more accessible to the body, as well as helping transport waste products out of the body. It is these two functions that make water so vital to the kidneys.
How does not drinking enough affect the kidneys?
Urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection in the body and account for around 8.1 million visits to health care providers in the US every year. If infections spread to the upper urinary tract, including the kidneys, permanent damage can be caused. Sudden kidney infections can be life-threatening, particularly if septicemia occurs.
Drinking plenty of water is one of the simplest ways to reduce the risk of developing a UTI and is also advised for people that have developed an infection. The presence of kidney stones can complicate UTIs as they can compromise how the kidneys work. Complicated UTIs tend to require longer periods of antibiotics to treat them, typically lasting between 7 and 14 days.
The leading cause of kidney stones is a lack of water, and they are commonly reported in people that have been found not drinking the recommended daily amount of water. As well as complicating UTIs, research has suggested that kidney stones also increase the risk of chronic kidney disease developing. In November 2014, the American College of Physicians issued new guidelines for people who have previously developed kidney stones, stating that increasing fluid intake to enable 2 liters of urination a day could decrease the risk of stone recurrence by at least half with no side effects.
Dehydration-using and losing more water than the body takes in-can also lead to an imbalance in the body’s electrolytes, such as potassium, phosphate and sodium, help carry electrical signals between cells. The levels of electrolytes in the body are kept stable by properly functioning kidneys.
The CDC make a number of suggestions that could help people increase the amount of water they normally drink:
• Carrying a water bottle with you means that fluid can be accessed when out and about, at work or running errands
• This water can be frozen in freezer-safe water bottles to provide a supply of ice-cold water all day long, which can be more satisfying than other beverages in certain situations
• Adding a wedge of lime or lemon to water can give it a different edge that may improve its taste without affecting its nutritional value.
Drinking enough should be an easily achievable health goal. “Under normal conditions, most people can drink enough fluids to meet their water needs,” state the CDC. Although it is a relatively simple step to take, it can easily get overlooked as part of increasingly hectic lifestyles.