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Water and health

Water is essential for life and health

Written by Allison Liu 2023

A child wearing a yellow t-shirt drinks from a blue plastic cup in Colombia.

Pedro Rojas enjoys a drink in Barranquilla, Colombia.Photo: Peter Caton/Tearfund

A smiling Brazilian woman collects water from a running tap fixed to a red brick wall.

From: Safe drinking water - Footsteps 120

How to value, look after and ensure the safety of drinking water

Your body is amazing. Without you ever having to think about it, your kidneys remove toxins and waste products from your blood, your skin sweats in order to cool you down and your brain gets a wash while you sleep.

Every second of every day your body is hard at work to keep you alive and well, and water plays a crucial role in this.

Did you know?

Your body is approximately 60–75 per cent water. For example, water makes up 25 per cent of your bones, 75 per cent of your muscles and 90 per cent of your lungs.

Bodily fluids, made largely from water, protect you from injury by surrounding your brain, spinal cord and joints. Water carries nutrients through your body via the blood and enables the elimination of waste and toxins through urine and stools. 

Water is so important for the health of your kidneys that frequent dehydration, even if it is mild, may lead to permanent kidney damage. And if you are dehydrated your brain will not be able to function properly. 

The sensation of thirst reduces as we age so it is important to make sure that elderly people drink enough water. Studies show that dehydration can cause people with dementia to decline more rapidly.

Drinking water is the best way to give your body the liquid it needs. Less liquid stays in the body if you drink tea, coffee, alcohol or fizzy drinks.

Prevent illness

Many diarrhoeal diseases, including cholera, are caused by drinking unsafe water.

Even if water looks clean, it may contain germs that could make you unwell. If in doubt, boil it for two minutes, leave it in the sun in clean, clear bottles for six hours or use a water filter.

Washing hands with soap before preparing food and eating, and after touching animals or going to the toilet, can also help to prevent illness.

This poster answers some important questions about drinking water.

Additional resources

Written by

Written by  Allison Liu

Allison Liu is a Health Coach based in the UK

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