WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO DRINK WATER? Health Factors to Consider
This substance makes up a majority of your body weight and is involved in many important functions, including:
- flushing out waste from your body
- regulating body temperature
- helping your brain function
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You get most of your water from drinking beverages, but food also contributes a small amount to your daily water intake.
Human beings are made up of about 80% water. Every organ, cell, and tissue in our bodies use it to function properly, which is why drinking enough water every day is important.
Keeping hydrated is crucial for health and well-being, but many people do not consume enough fluids each day.
It’s commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-ounce (237-mL) glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule).
Although there’s little science behind this specific rule, staying hydrated is important.
The role of water in the bodyWater is a vital part of our everyday lives and is used by our body in many different ways. It’s so important that humans can’t survive for more than a week without fresh water. A lot of us underestimate the importance of drinking water daily and don’t truly appreciate what water does for our bodies.
Here are some of the main reasons why you should be drinking your 8 cups of water a day:
1. Maximize physical performance
It is essential that you drink water throughout intensive exercises. You need water to stay hydrated and maintain an adequate amount of fluid in your body.
Water keeps you cool as you exercise in the form of sweat. When you perspire, the excess heat from your body is lost to the atmosphere through evaporation, regulating your body at an optimal temperature. Water also prevents your muscles from getting tired as fast and allows you to have a quicker recovery post-workout. As you exercise, your muscles produce lactic acid, which causes them to become sore. Staying hydrated allows your body to rid itself of the lactic acid in your muscles at a faster rate.
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2. Maintain mental energy levelsThere is a strong correlation between your mental energy levels and how hydrated you are. Water is needed in every cell in your body and your brain cells are no exception. Water helps transport oxygen and nutrients to the brain for optimal mental function. Even mild dehydration can reduce your mental energy levels significantly. Insufficient hydration can lead to decreased memory and cognitive performance.
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3. Prevent headachesOne of the most common causes of headaches is dehydration. When you are dehydrated, the brain contracts temporarily due to fluid loss. This causes the brain to retract from the lining of the skull causing a headache. When you have a headache next time, consider the possibility that you might just be dehydrated.
4. Prevent constipation
Constipation occurs when the stools in your colon don’t get enough water. When you are dehydrated, water is diverted from the large intestine to hydrate the rest of your body. With less water, your stool becomes dry, hard and difficult to pass through your bowels. Make sure you get enough water to have a healthy bowel.
5. Prevent kidney stones
Kidney stones are hard deposits of salt and minerals that form within the kidney or urinary tract. You need enough fluids in your system to dilute the concentration of minerals that can turn into these stones. A good indicator of how hydrated you are is the colour of your urine. When you are dehydrated, your urine may appear dark. If your urine is pale yellow or clear, you have an adequate amount of fluids in your body.
6. Promote weight loss
Drinking more water can actually help you lose weight. When your stomach senses that it is full, it sends signals to the brain to make you feel full. This reduces your hunger and makes you less likely to overeat.
Your body also requires water to be able to metabolise the carbohydrates and stored fat in your body. With less water in your body, you are less able to burn off excess fat as your metabolism isn’t as efficient.
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7. Maintain healthy skin
Your skin is an organ and is made up of cells. And just like other organs, without water, it will not function properly or at least, not at its best. When your skin is dehydrated, it will become dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin has less elasticity and is more prone to flaking. Staying hydrated can hence reduce the appearance of ageing, making you look younger and fresher.
8.Helps prevent hangovers
A hangover refers to the unpleasant symptoms experienced after drinking alcohol.
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Alcohol is a diuretic, so it makes you lose more water than you take in. This can lead to dehydration.
Although dehydration isn’t the main cause of hangovers, it can cause symptoms like thirst, fatigue, headache, and dry mouth.
Good ways to reduce hangovers are to drink a glass of water between drinks and have at least one big glass of water before going to bed.
9.It helps create saliva
Water is a main component of saliva. Saliva also includes small amounts of electrolytes, mucus, and enzymes. It’s essential for breaking down solid food and keeping your mouth healthy.
Your body generally produces enough saliva with regular fluid intake. However, your saliva production may decrease as a result of age or certain medications or therapies.
If your mouth is drier than usual and increasing your water intake isn’t helping, see your doctor.
10. It regulates your body temperature
Staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining your body temperature. Your body loses water through sweat during physical activity and in hot environments.
Your sweat keeps your body cool, but your body temperature will rise if you don’t replenish the water you lose. That’s because your body loses electrolytes and plasma when it’s dehydrated.
If you’re sweating more than usual, make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
11. It protects your tissues, spinal cord, and joints
Water consumption helps lubricate and cushion your joints, spinal cord, and tissues. This will help you enjoy physical activity and lessen discomfort caused by conditions like arthritis.
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12. It aids in digestion
Contrary to what some believe, experts confirm drinking water before, during, and after a meal will help your body break down the food you eat more easily. This will help you digest food more effectively and get the most out of your meals. Research shows the body adapts to changes in the consistency of food and stomach contents, whether more solid or more liquid.
13. It helps with nutrient absorptionIn addition to helping with food breakdown, water also helps dissolve vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from your food. It then delivers these vitamin components to the rest of your body for use.
14. It improves blood oxygen circulation
Water carries helpful nutrients and oxygen to your entire body. Reaching your daily water intake will improve your circulation and have a positive impact on your overall health.
15. It helps fight off illnessDrinking enough water can help prevent certain medical conditions. These include:
- kidney stones
- exercise-induced asthma
- urinary tract infection
16. It aids in cognitive function
Proper hydration is key to staying in tip-top cognitive shape. Research indicates that not drinking enough water can negatively impact your focus, alertness, and short-term memory.
17. It helps improve mood
Not getting enough water can also affect your mood. Dehydration may result in fatigue and confusion as well as anxiety.
18. It helps maintain blood pressure
A lack of water can cause blood to become thicker, increasing blood pressure.
19. The airways need it
When dehydrated, airways are restricted by the body in an effort to minimize water loss. This can make asthma and allergies worse.
What Happens If You Don’t Drink Enough WaterWhatever you do, make sure you get in those six to eight glasses, otherwise dehydration could cause a whole host of problems. Here are a few side effects:
- Persistent headaches. One of the first things you might notice when you’re dehydrated is a throbbing headache. The good news? If dehydration is the cause, it should go away shortly after you drink a large glass of water.
- Sluggish bowel function. There are water receptors in the colon, and they pull water from the body to make the stools softer. If you don’t get enough water, hard stools and constipation could be common side effects, along with abdominal pain and cramps.
- Dull skin. Dehydration shows up on your face in the form of dry, ashy skin that seems less radiant, plump and elastic.
- If you’re not replenishing your fluid intake, your energy levels could plummet and you could experience fatigue and brain fog. So the next time you reach for another cup of coffee, see if it’s water that you need instead.
- Weight gain. Sometimes people mistake thirst for hunger and they eat more, but really they just need to drink more. Sometimes if you have a glass of water, the hunger cues will go away.
- Dry mouth. If you’re not getting enough water, you can have dry mucous membranes—i.e., a lack of saliva. This can make it difficult to talk, swallow, and even breathe. Luckily, this can easily be solved by drinking water.
An important note: If you have heart failure, less water is better—you don’t want your body to retain too much fluid, forcing your heart to work harder. Aim for less than two liters daily from all liquid sources. If you have questions, talk to your doctor to see what is right for you.
For everyone else, while six to eight glasses is preferred, going too far above and beyond that won’t help you—in fact, drinking too much water can lead to brain swelling and fluid overload. Find a happy balance between six to eight glasses daily to stay healthy.
How to include more water in your diet
The recommended daily water intake for adults is 8 – 10 glasses of 250ml each glass. This might be hard to do if you are not used to drinking much water. However, please note that this is more of a guide and not a strict rule. Variables can include age, activity levels, temperature and weight etc. It is nonetheless still important to be adequately hydrated.
Here are some simple ways to include more water in your diet:
- Drink water with every meal.
- Opt for water instead of a sugary drink.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. You can still get water in your diet by eating food high in water content.
- Invest in a water bottle to carry around wherever you go.
Don’t overdo it
Staying hydrated is important but not many people realize that you can drink too much water, especially when you try to overcompensate for the loss of water your body experiences during prolonged exercise. Overhydration can lead to water intoxication, which is when the levels of salt and other electrolytes in your body become too diluted. While it is rare, this can be a medical emergency if the electrolytes in your body fall too low and too fast.
At the end of the day, you should be drinking an adequate amount of water and seek advice from a doctor if you have concerns on dehydration or water intoxication.
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The bottom line
Water is important to nearly every part of your body. Not only will hitting your daily recommended intake help you maintain your current state of being, it may even improve your overall health.
Here are some ideas for how you can be sure you drink enough:
- Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. This way you can drink whenever the need strikes.
- Keep track of your intake. Aim to take in optimum amounts every day, a minimum of half your body weight in ounces.
- Pace yourself to approach half of your recommended consumption by midday. You can always finish about an hour before you plan to sleep.