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Water as a dietary nutrient!

The foods we eat contain nutrients that provide energy and other things the body needs.
Most of the nutrients in food fall into three major groups; carbohydrates, fats and proteins and three minor groups; vitamins, minerals and water.

  • Water is an essential component of the human body. Humans can stay without food for several weeks but not water.
  • Water is needed for proper digestion, nutrient transport and absorption, chemical reactions, excretion, muscle growth, athletic performance etc.
  • The normal body is made up of 70-75% of water.
  • This is lost through perspiration (sweating), micturation (urination), defecation (passing of stool), spitting, vomiting, crying, etc. and should be replaced regularly to maintain body processes.

The importance/benefits of water to the human body

Water is the fastest hydration or rehydration agent for mankind. The component of water in the human body helps maintain life through the following means:

  • Serves as a medium for all body processes.
  • Transports nutrients and other substances throughout the body.
  • Removes and flushes waste materials out of the body.
  • Aids digestive processes.
  • Quenches thirst, a dehydration crisis that should be avoided.
  • Lubricates joints and body organs.
  • Regulates body temperature

Sources of water

The sources of water include springs, pipe borne water, bore holes, rain water, deep wells, ponds, rivers, streams, dams, and lakes.
An important point to consider is to ensure that the water is safe to be used in our daily activities, especially for drinking.

  • Safe water does not contain germs, toxins or other harmful materials.
  • Unsafe, unimproved or contaminated water contains organisms that cause water-borne diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, and guinea worm.

It is important for those who have access to potable or improved water through household pipe connections, public standpipes, boreholes, protected dug wells and springs not to contaminate the water through improper source maintenance, transportation, storage and usage.

Common symptoms of water-deficiency (dehydration)

Water is so vital to body function to the extent that its shortage may lead to a severe health problem such as;

  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Lack of concentration
  • Forgetfulness /memory loss
  • Kidney failure and finally
  • Death.

Water Intake Recommendations:

The body needs at least 3-4 liters of water per day. This is approximately;

  • 4-6 pito calabashes of water
  • 6-8 sachets of water.
  • 8-10 glasses of water.


  • These amounts should be increased during hot seasons.
  • Water is best taken at room temperature because every object on heating expands and on cooling contracts, thus iced water shocks the system by a sudden contraction of the alimentary tract followed by an expansion.
  • Pregnant women may require more than the recommended intake due to the increased body temperature they experience.
  • In exclusive breast feeding for infants from birth to 6 months, mothers should NOT give the infants any other liquids. Breast milk is 90% water and babies do not require water in addition to breast milk
  • Ensure that the water for drinking and food preparation is purified in order to aid proper functioning of all body processes for optimum health.
  • Use commercial or home-assembled filters designed to remove pollutants from water.
  • Charcoal is especially effective in removing impurities in simple, low-cost home assembled water filters.
  • Boiling may reduce levels of chlorine and organisms, but may leave an unhealthy concentration of heavy metals in the water.
  • Exposure to fresh air and/or sunlight will evaporate some chemicals. The sun’s ultra violet rays kill many bacteria and energize the water.

Water exposed to the above sources need to be protected against dirt or harmful organisms being carried by the wind.

  • Crushed Maringa Powder works as a natural flocculent, binding to the solids in water and causing them to sink to the bottom.
  • Keep water sources free of refuse, weeds, animals and human excreta.
  • Keep the surroundings of water sources well drained.
  • Build platform/fence at a fetching point
  • Avoid washing, bathing or playing around the water source.
  • Keep wells covered
  • Use clean containers to fetch and carry water
  • Clean water fetching containers regularly
  • Avoid using leaves and other unclean materials to stabilize water during transportation
  • Avoid dipping hands in water during transportation
  • Avoid using bathing buckets/containers for transporting drinking water
  • Cover water during transportation
  • If water is kept for weeks without continuously being charged with oxygen to keep its freshness, it can become stale, stink and have an unpleasant taste.
  • To store water for several weeks, use airtight containers like bottled water that is sold in shops.
  • Avoid containers with chemicals in the walls that could eventually dissolve and pollute the water.
  • Alternatively, have your water aerated, since this charges it with oxygen, makes it healthier, prevents smells and tastes better.

How to charge your water with oxygen

  • Store water in clean containers
  • Use a mini-fountain to keep agitating the water with the container that exposes the water to fresh air
  • Use a continuous air pump, similar to the type in home décor aquariums.
  • Get the water to fill in drops or drips from a good height into a container from which you fetch the water to drink or use for cooking.
  • Ensure the surrounding air is free from dust and other pollutants
  • Always cover water storage containers to keep them safe from contamination
  • Clean water storage containers regularly and thoroughly.
  • Use clean hands to fetch water from storage vessels or receptacles
  • Fetch water with clean cups, bowl / calabash from storage containers
  • Use one cup to fetch water into individual cups or other containers
  • Always drink with your own cup
  • Wash cups regularly
  • Keep water-fetching cups/containers in a clean place
  • Drink only safe water, cover water always and avoid contaminating water during use.

Disclaimer; this article is not meant for diagnosis and / or treatment of any diseases. Always consult with your dietician or physician before embarking on any dietary regimen.


  1. Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids (macronutrients). National Academy Press.
  2. Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source
  3. WHO dietary and physical activity guidelines for Ghana, Ministry of Health, December 2009.

Written By :

Mrs. Salome Annoh

National Healthy Lifestyle Advocate