Clean Water Essential for Life & Healthy Living

Clean Water Essential for Life & Healthy Living

by Seethalakshmi Seshabhushan Nagaraja MS BS BE RDN

What do famous civil rights leaders, human rights advocates and religious people from different faiths possibly have in common? All of them may have gone on a fast to advance their beliefs. Have you ever wondered how long we can survive without food or water? It turns out that we can survive longer without food than water. This survival duration depends on weather conditions, physical activity and good health status.

Although water doesn’t contribute calories, it is considered an essential nutrient. Maintaining normal water balance is necessary to stay healthy. For good health, we need to ensure adequate intake of water to balance water losses due to respiration, excretion and sweat.

Why is water an essential nutrient?

  1. Water plays an important role in temperature regulation. We sweat during exercise or warm weather. The natural process of sweating helps with cooling down, regulating and normalizing temperature.
  2. The normal processes of respiration, excretion and sweat use water as a medium for the removal of waste products and maintenance of normal electrolyte levels.
  3. Water acts as a solvent and transport medium for nutrients like glucose, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It also enables the participation of these nutrients in normal functions.
  4. Water is a structural component of glycogen and preserves protein structure.
  5. The processes used to maintain normal water balance also help control and maintain healthy blood pressure.
  6. Drinking enough water supports normal digestion and helps us stay regular.
  7. Water also acts as a lubricant and helps us stay agile, strong and healthy.
  8. Staying adequately hydrated is important as research suggests that hydration status may affect mood and alertness.

Sources of water

Are you wondering how many glasses of water do I need to drink? Sports drinks, soda, coffee, tea, milk, juice, beer and wine are also sources of water. Keep in mind all the nutrients contributed when choosing a healthy beverage at meal time. Water is the natural beverage choice for healthy weight reduction and when counting calories. Clean, natural, refreshing water is always the best choice for staying hydrated except when electrolytes replenishment is needed. For optimal performance, athletes need sports drinks to rehydrate and replace minerals and electrolytes. Drinks contribute 20% of daily calories to food intake of children and adolescents. Kids may want milk and water at meal time for high quality protein, vitamin D and calcium to support healthy growth.

Even food contains water, we get 20% of our daily intake of water from food. Vegetables and fruits like spinach and watermelon are mostly made of water.

Here is a list of foods and water content -

Water Content of Food & Drinks - pg 1

Water Recommendations

AI - The daily amount of water considered adequate to meet the needs of most healthy people.

For kids ….

Water Recommendations - pg 2

For adults ….

Water Recommendations - pg 3

Conversions –

  • 1 L = 33.8 fl. oz.
  • 1 cup = 8 fl. oz.

Did you know?

  • The ‘Water for Life’ International Decade for Action 2005-2015 helped around 1.3 B people in developing countries get access to safe drinking water.
  • The International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Sustainable Development’, will commence on World Water Day, 22 March 2018, and terminate on World Water Day, 22 March 2028.


  1. CDC. Drinking water. . Accessed February 23, 2018.
  2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Water How Much Do Kids Need? . Accessed February 23, 2018
  3. Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, Hydration and Health. Nutrition Reviews. 2010.
  4. Whitney E, Rolfes SR. Understanding Nutrition.15th ed.
  5. Miller G, Merlo C, Demissie Z, Sliwa S, Park S. Trends in Beverage Consumption Among High School Students — United States, 2007–2015. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2017.
  6. United Nations. International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005 – 2015. . Accessed February 23, 2018.

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