One of water’s elementary roles begins right in the first 9 months of our life. The first thing we drink is amniotic fluid.

The following section contains some basic information on the topic of water. It is designed to encourage readers to contemplate and to increase their readiness to examine the statement "Water is life – water is health" more closely and in more detail.

Regulation of the water balance The human water balance is essential for health. Water is taken in via fluids and solid food with intake varying according to thirst, hunger and appetite. Water is vital for human life. The proportion of body weight made up of water is dependent upon age and sex and ranges between 75% in newborn babies and around 50% in the elderly. 10% of this is found in the blood, 70% in the cells and 20% outside the cells (tissue fluid). There is a continuous exchange taking place between the fluid within the cells and that outside the cells (osmosis) so that the cells are always supplied with sufficient fresh water.

Regulatory mechanisms

1. Fluid intake and fluid excretion

There is usually a balance between intake and excretion of water, the so-called water balance. It is principally excreted through the kidneys in the form of urine, through the skin in the form of sweat, through the lungs in the form of water vapour and finally also through the intestines. If the water balance becomes disturbed, this can seriously impede various bodily functions such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels or brain function, for example, and lead to disorders. If there is an imbalance in the water balance we become thirsty. By the time we perceive this, our body is already short of water. We should therefore drink water continuously even if we do not feel thirsty.

2. Water as a means of transport

Most of the water which a person takes in each day is required to transport nutrients into the cells. To be able to bind and remove metabolic waste products it is important that the water is not saturated with minerals.

3. Water for excretion, cleansing and detoxification

Water ensures that harmful catabolic products are washed from our bodies and detoxification processes can run more smoothly. In the cells it has a purifying action and is responsible for eliminating waste products and other residue.

4. Water as solvent

In our bodies water acts as a solvent for our food so that this can be transported and processed. It also serves to dilute a number of harmful substances.

5. Thermal regulation – the skin as air conditioning

An additional important role of water is to regulate body temperature. Alongside other regulatory mechanisms, sweating also helps maintain body temperature constant at around 37°C, regardless how cold or warm it is outside the body.

6. Regulation of the electrolyte balance

What exactly is the electrolyte balance?

Electrolyte balance means the balance of vital electrolytes in the body. These include the minerals sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, phosphorus, sulphur and magnesium. To maintain the electrolyte balance the body requires a balanced supply of electrolytes in addition to an adequate supply of water. Minerals in water (tap water, mineral water) are of inorganic quality (not living substance) and not particularly suitable for the needs of the cells. Minerals in fruit, vegetables, cereals and meat can be processed better by the body as they are available in organic form (living substance). If the inorganic minerals are not used they must either be excreted through the kidneys or, if the worst comes to the worst, they become deposited in the tissue. We top up the supply of electrolytes by eating fruit, vegetables, cereals or animal products, thereby taking in organic minerals which the body can use and process quickly. These organically bound minerals are essential for keeping us alive and healthy..

7. Regulation of the acid-base balance

Chemical processes are continually taking place in the body. Metabolism, muscular action, nerve transmission processes – these would all be impossible without these chemical processes. Acids and alkaline substances must be balanced. If this is not the case, this leads to an adverse metabolic condition for the body. A high quality watery environment is all the more important therefore