We couldn’t survive without water. Around 60% of our body is made up of it and it’s essential to the processes that keep us functioning ¬– dehydration can be a contributing factor in life-threatening problems with your heart, lungs, kidneys and bladder.
However, we’re constantly losing water in a variety of ways – especially on board ship where the effects are increased further – so it’s crucial that we replace it to keep healthy. This isn’t always easy when you’re at sea and access to a supply of safe, potable drinking water can be complicated.
Here are 10 reasons why staying hydrated is so important:
1. Drink water for strength and endurance
Your muscles can’t contract and expand efficiently without water which will lead to a reduction in your physical abilities and a longer recovery time after exercise. The water you get rid of when you sweat also means that you’re losing valuable nutrients.
2. Drink water to think and concentrate
As well as other sensitive tissues, water cushions your brain and spinal cord. Without it, your brain cells shrink and the production of neurotransmitters is interrupted so your ability to focus on even the simplest of tasks will be affected.
3. Drink water to stay sharp
Failure to hydrate properly leads to fatigue and tiredness. Water is a much more effective drink than sugary energy drinks which might give you a sudden boost but will lead to an energy crash later.
4. Drink water to breathe
If you’re dehydrated, your body will restrict your airways to try and minimise water loss. This effects your ability to breathe and increases the impact of asthma, allergies, colds and viruses.
5. Drink water to stay cool
When your body heats up, the water that’s stored in the layers of your skin comes to the surface as sweat and cools you down. This water needs replacing to prevent heat exhaustion in a hot environment or during physical activity.
6. Drink water as part of a healthy diet
While water is no substitution for food, it can help with your eating habits – especially if you have it instead of sweetened fizzy drinks and juices. Drinking water before a meal will help your stomach to fill up and you’ll need less food to be able to function properly.
7. Drink water for your joints
The cartilage around your joints and spine allows bones to move freely against each other – its spongy texture is made up of over 80% water and prevents grating and rubbing. Without enough water, cartilage loses some of its shock-absorber effect so there’s more friction. This results in your joints aching and becoming painful.
8. Drink water for your circulation
Our blood is made up of over 90% water and if this concentration falls, it becomes thicker. This makes it harder for the heart to pump it around your body leading to an increase in blood pressure.
9. Drink water for your digestion
Your stomach and bowels need water to function properly and, if you aren’t getting enough, you run the risk of constipation, heartburn and stomach ulcers.
10. Drink water for your body waste
Saliva, tears and mucus all depend on having sufficient water and it flushes waste from your system when you go to the toilet. If you can’t maintain and regulate your body fluids, it will lead to problems with your kidneys in the long term.