Everyone knows that it’s important to stay hydrated, that water is essential for our health – but why? What are the benefits of drinking water?
Did you know that our bodies can supposedly last weeks (around 3 weeks) without food and yet just a few days without water? This is understandable knowing that our bodies are made up of about 60% water and that being dehydrated can begin to affect us both physically and mentally in a short period of time.
Yes, water is essential for our health, it is imperative to so many bodily functions. Drinking enough water, staying hydrated, is the first rule of health and nutrition.
Most of our fluid needs are met through the water and beverages we drink. However, we get some fluids through the foods that we eat as well. Just think about fruits, vegetables, soups etc.
Benefits Of Drinking Water
- 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.
- Helps create saliva
Water is a main component of saliva. 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.
- It aids in digestion
Contrary to what some believe, 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 to get the most out of your meals.
- Helps excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation
A ai above, sweat regulates body temperature when you’re exercising or in warm temperatures. You need water to replenish the lost fluid from sweat.
You also need enough water in your system to have healthy stool and avoid constipation.
Your kidneys are also important for filtering out waste through urination. Adequate water intake helps your kidneys work more efficiently and helps to prevent kidney stones.
- Protects your tissues, spinal cord, and joints
Water consumption helps lubricate and cushion your joints, spinal cord, and tissues.
- Water can help reduce sugar cravings and aid weight maintenance
The brain can’t actually tell the difference between hunger and thirst, so often we can mistake thirst as a ‘sugar craving’. The next time you feel the need for something sweet, try drinking a glass of water first. Staying hydrated may also help with weight maintenance. Having a glass of water before a meal may fill you up more and therefore promote weight loss by eating less at the meal.
- Significantly affects energy levels and brain functions
Not getting enough water may result in fatigue and confusion as well as anxiety. Research has shown that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 1–3% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function. Fluid loss of 1.4% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration. It also increased the frequency of headaches. Fluid loss of 1.6% was detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue.
- Helps prevent overall dehydration
Dehydration is the result of your body not having enough water. And because water is imperative to so many bodily functions, dehydration can be very dangerous.
Severe dehydration can result in a number of severe complications, including:
- swelling in your brain
- kidney failure
- It helps maximize physical performance
Drinking plenty of water during physical activity is essential. This is particularly important during intense exercise or high heat. Dehydration can have a noticeable effect if you lose as little as 2% of your body’s water content. However, it isn’t uncommon for athletes to lose as much as 6–10% of their water weight via sweat.
Athletes may perspire up to 6 to 10 % of body weight during physical activity. Hydration also affects your strength, power, and endurance.
Negative effects of exercise in the heat without enough water can include serious medical conditions, like decreased blood pressure and hyperthermia. Extreme dehydration can cause seizures and even death.
- It helps fight off illness
Drinking enough water can help prevent certain medical conditions. These include:
- kidney stones
- exercise-induced asthma
- urinary tract infection
Water also helps you absorb important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from your food, which will increase your chances of staying healthy.
How much water should we drink a day?
People get about 20 % of their daily water intake from food. The rest is dependent on drinking water and water-based beverages.
When your water intake does not equal your output, you can become dehydrated. Did you know that when you’re thirsty you are already mildly dehydrated? Yes, feeling thirsty indicates your body is not receiving adequate hydration.
It’s recommended to have 8 glasses of water a day.
You may need more water if you are:
- In hot climates
- More physically active
- Running a fever
- Having diarrhea or vomiting
Tips For Always Being Hydrated
- Keep a glass of water, always, on your desk.
- Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are out.
- Freeze some freezer-safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long (especially in the summer)
- Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This can also help with weight management.
- Choose water when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.
- Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. It tastes good and is great for your health.