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Water in diet

Definition

Water is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. It is the basis for the fluids of the body.

Alternative Names

Diet - water; H2O

Function

Water makes up more than two-thirds of the weight of the human body. Without water, humans would die in a few days. All the cells and organs need water to function.

Water serves as a lubricant and is the basis of saliva and the fluids surrounding the joints. Water regulates the body temperature through perspiration. It also helps prevent and alleviate constipation by moving food through the intestinal tract.

Food Sources

Some of the water in our body is obtained through foods we eat and some is the byproduct of metabolism. But drinking water is our main, and best, source of water.

We also obtain water through liquid foods and beverages, such as soup, milk, and juices. Alcoholic beverages and beverages containing caffeine (such as coffee, tea, and colas) are not the best choices because they have a diuretic (water-excreting) effect.

Side Effects

If adequate water is not consumed on a daily basis the body fluids will be out of balance, causing dehydration. When dehydration is severe, it can be life-threatening.

Recommendations

Six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water are generally recommended on a daily basis.

References

Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.


Review Date: 8/8/2009
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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