THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF WATER
Water makes up about two thirds of our body weight and every system in our body depends on water. Even mild dehydration (lack of water) will drain our energy and affects the body’s ability to carry out normal functions. An essential element for survival, we can only last a few days without it.
BENEFITS OF WATER
- Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells. Essential for proper circulation, even minor dehydration can cause impaired concentration, headaches, irritability, and fatigue.
- Aids in the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
- Aids in the repair and replacement of old tissues.
- Helps flush the system of toxic wastes.
- Regulates body temperature.
- Helps prevent constipation. Water is absolutely necessary for proper bowel function.
- Lubricates and cushions joints. Protects body organs and tissues. Dehydration can cause cramping of muscles.
- Moistens tissues such as those in the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, & throat.
- Moisturizes the skin from the inside out. Water greatly improves cellular integrity, is essential to maintaining elasticity and suppleness, and helps prevent dryness. The real fountain of youth can be found in a glass of water!
- Helps dissolve minerals and other nutrients to make them accessible to the body.
- Vital for Cardiovascular health, even mild dehydration can cause a rapid heartbeat, drop in blood pressure when going from a lying down position to standing up, and extreme fatigue.
- Weight Loss. If the body does not receive adequate amounts of water, the liver will cease to metabolize fat at a normal rate. Basically, your metabolism will slow to a point where fat and water is now being store by the body UNTIL it receives the proper amounts of water.
HOW MUCH WATER DO WE NEED?
There no single formula that fits everyone, however, understanding our body’s need for fluids will help us to estimate how much water our body needs each day.
The body loses water through breath, perspiration, urine, and bowel movements. For the body to function properly, lost fluid must be replenished through fluids and foods that contain water. Food usually accounts for 20 percent of our total fluid intake.
We should be drinking enough fluid so that we rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day. This is considered adequate fluid intake for most people. On average, healthy adults living in a temperate climate needs 8 or 9 cups of water/fluid a day. In addition to water lost through urine, we lose close to 4 cups of water a day through breathing, sweating, and bowel movements.
The body can only absorb about 1 quart of water per hour.
FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE WATER NEEDS
- Our activity level. Any activity that causes sweating increases our need for extra water.
- The environment, the climate we live in. Hot or humid weather can cause sweating and increase the need for additional fluids. Altitudes greater than 8,200 feet may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of our fluid reserves.
- Illnesses or health conditions such as fever, vomiting, or diarrhea cause our body to lose fluids. However, some conditions such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may impair the body’s ability to excrete fluids and we may need to moderate fluid intake.
- Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing.
STAYING SAFELY HYDRATED
What we eat can (should) provide a significant portion of our fluid needs. On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake. Fruits such as watermelon contain 90 percent or more water by weight.
The body often confuses hunger for thirst!
Drinking a glass of water 30 minutes prior to each meal and between each meal can help ensure proper hydration throughout the day. It can even alleviate hunger and help with weight loss efforts.
It is very important to hydrate before, during and after exercise.
Thirst is not the best indicator of hydration. By the time we become thirsty, our bodies are already experiencing dehydration. Further, as we get older our body is less able to sense dehydration. On the other hand, excessive thirst and increased urination can be signs of a serious medical condition.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO DRINK TOO MUCH WATER?
While rare, drinking too much water can occur. Hyponatremia can occur when sodium, an electrolyte, which helps regulate water levels in the fluid in and around our cells, becomes too low. It is caused when the kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, or when large amounts of fluids are ingested. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, who drink large amounts of water, can be at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, however, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who eat an average American diet.
Water covers over 70% of the earth’s surface. All living things depend on water for survival. It even affects weather patterns. From growing food to producing energy, the importance of water cannot be overstated.