Water is essential for life. It is required to maintain the health of cells and tissues, for the excretion of soluble waste matter (in sweat and urine), and for the cooling of the skin by evaporation of sweat. The body’s water intake comes from liquid drunk, from the natural water content of food, and (about 14 litre per day) as a by-product of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism.
‘Water intoxication’ is a condition which can occur after heavy sweating or dehydration if a lot of liquid is consumed without replacing the lost sodium. Symptoms include weakness and apathy and may lead to convulsions and coma.
Opinions vary on how much water or fluid should be consumed on a daily basis for optimum health. There is a traditional belief in some quarters that the larger the quantities of water consumed, the better this is for health. There is no real evidence for this and some philosophies (such as macrobiotics) believe that excessive fluid consumption can place an excessive strain on the kidneys, which can show up as swellings under the eyes.
What is certainly agreed by most natural medicine practitioners is that water should wherever possible be consumed in preference to other forms of fluid, especially alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.