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Fluid Regulation is Essential to Homeostasis

Fluid Regulation is Essential to Homeostasis

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Published by: rajan kumar on May 16, 2009
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Fluid regulation is essential to homeostasis. If water or electrolyte levels rise or fallbeyond normal limits, many bodily functions fail to proceed at their normal rates.Maintaining normal pH levels is also important for normal body functioning becausesmall changes in pH can produce major changes in metabolism.Water is a constituent of all living things. It is often referred to as the
universal biological solvent 
. Only liquid ammonia is able to dissolve more substances thanwater.The importance of water as a biological solvent is due to its polar asymmetry (H
) and its high affinity for other water molecules. As a polar molecule, water ishighly interactive with other polar molecules and acts to compete with them forhydrogen bonding, thus weakening their electrostatic forces. This allows a greaternumber of polar molecules to coexist and undergo reactions; in a non-polar solvent,these polar molecules would form strong bonds with one another and thus beunavailable for further reaction.The affinity of water molecules for each other is very high. When non-polarmolecules are placed in water, the polar water molecules are attracted to other watermolecules. This action tends to leave the non-polar molecules clustered together.This clustering property is important in structuring macromolecules, binding enzymesto their substrates, and in membrane formation.Water acts to minimise temperature changes throughout the body because of its highspecific heat.A considerable amount of energy is needed to break the hydrogen bonds betweenwater molecules in order to make the water molecules move faster (that is, increasethe temperature of water). Therefore, water can absorb much heat without rapidlychanging it's own temperature.The adult human body consists of about 60% water by weight, depending upon ageand the amount of body fat. The water content of the tissues of the body varies.Adipose tissue (fat) has the lowest percent of water; the skeleton has the secondlowest water content. Skeletal muscle, skin, and the blood are among the tissuesthat have the highest content of water in the body.See Table 1 Infants have a higher percent of water than adults do as much as 77%. The totalwater content of the body decreases most dramatically during the first 10 years andcontinues to decline through old age, at which time it may be only 45% of the totalbody weight. Men tend to have higher percentages of water (about 65%) thanwomen (about 55%) mainly because of their increased muscle mass and loweramount of subcutaneous fat. Fat has less water content than any other body tissue.This also accounts for a lower than normal water percentage in obese people.
TABLE 1: Distribution of water and percentage of body weight in a 70 kg.(11 stone) man
Tissue% of water% of body weightLitres of water / 70kgSkin
 Adipose tissue
10.0Approximately 10.00.70 The water in the body has many important functions, which are listed in table 2below.
Table 2: Functions of water in human physiology
Water has many important functions in the body1All chemical reactions occur in the medium.2It is crucial in regulating chemical and bioelectrical distributions within cells.
3Transports substances such as hormones and nutrients.4O
transport from lungs to body cells.5CO
transport in the opposite direction.6Dilutes toxic substances and waste products and transports them to the kidneysand the liver.7Distributes heat around the body Water in the body is in a constant state of motion. Shifting between the three majorfluid compartments of the body and in addition being continuously lost from, andtaken into, the person.In a normal, healthy human being WATER INPUT = WATER OUTPUT.Maintaining this ratio is of prime importance in maintaining health.Approximately 90% of the body's water intake comes via the gastro-intestinal tract.The remaining 10% is called metabolic water and is produced as the result of variouschemical reactions in the cells of the body's tissues.The normal healthy adult loses water via the route shown in table 3 below.
Table 3: Where water is lost from the body (healthy adult)
GASTRO-INTESTINALTRACT(FAECES)6%LUNGS(WATER VAPOUR)13%SKIN(DIFFUSION & SWEAT)19%KIDNEYS(URINE)62% The amount of water lost via the kidneys is under hormonal control. The averageamount of water lost and consumed per day is around 2.5 litres (approx. 4
pints)in a healthy adult.Body fluid is found in three different fluid compartments within the body. These are:

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