You hear it all the time from the media, as well as doctors and other health professionals…
Drink Plenty of Water!
But Why? If asked, most of us could not think of more than one or two health benefits of water and staying properly hydrated.
Sodas, tea and coffee, juices and alcohol are often our drinks of choice.
While some research has suggested that consuming these drinks does provide for a small amount of your required water intake, the downside is they can act as diuretics.
They actually help cause the very thing your trying to avoid: dehydration.
Your body is made of approximately 70% water, providing the fuel for many important functions and chemical reactions. Water transports both nutrients and toxins in and out of your cells and regulates body temperature.
Let’s jump right in and look at the 5 key reasons we should be consuming more H2O
1. Improved digestion.
When you’re not getting enough water, the body’s digestive process slows down causing constipation, bloating and other uncomfortable symptoms. This is because your body is wise and knows that in a state of dehydration, water needs to be conserved for more critical functions other than processing what you eat.
In other words, if there’s troubles with number twos and you’re spending way too much time in the bathroom, you need to be drinking more water…enough said.
2. Water is needed for muscle energy.
All cells in the body maintain a level of fluids and electrolytes in order to function efficiently. Without the proper balance of these fluids the cells shrivel and this can cause muscle fatigue. All athletes and sports professionals understand the importance of proper hydration before and after exercise.
Dehydration of 1 percent to 2 percent of body weight begins to compromise physiologic function and negatively influences performance. Dehydration of greater than 3 percent of body weight further disturbs physiologic function and increases an athlete’s risk of developing an exertional heat illness (i.e, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke)
American College of Sports Medicine
3. You’ll stay mentally sharp.
If you’re suffering from late afternoon brain fog or becoming forgetful and confused, drink more water. A study in 2011 showed that reduced water intake affected cognitive functions such as planning and visuo-spatial processing which is the brains ability to perceive spatial relationships between objects – getting into that tight parking spot for example!
4. Better Kidney Health.
Simply put, the kidneys do a first rate job of removing a number of toxins from your blood. However, they can can only do this with an adequate intake of fluids. The more dehydrated you become the more inefficient your kidney function. One of the main toxins is called blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that passes through the kidneys on its way to elimination.
A urea nitrogen level test is often one of the ways doctors test kidney function.
5. Skin Hydration.
One of the more widely known benefits is how beneficial water can be for that little thing called your skin; actually the largest organ in your body. Skin dehydration makes your skin look drier and more wrinkled. Interestingly, adequate fluid and fats (the good fats) in your daily diet help act as a natural filler as the fat binds the water to the dermis.
Everyday your body loses up to one quart of water each from the kidneys and the skin, a cup from the lungs as well as fluids from your stools. We require 6-10 cups of water a day to replace this lost fluid and maintain good skin hydration.
You likely already know that pale or straw-coloured urine is a sign of good hydration, whereas dark urine signals dehydration.
As some of the foods you eat (hopefully lots of fruits and vegetables) contain water, it is possible to achieve some 20% of your hydration requirement simply by eating more of these foods.
With water acting as the lifeblood to so many critical functions from energy to digestion, organ function and cellular health, it is vitally important to drink quality water while maintaining a whole foods diet and reducing diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine where possible.
If you find, like many, that drinking water just doesn’t taste all that great or just seems boring, some healthy alternatives include herbal teas, coconut water, or water infused with fruits like lemon, strawberry, watermelon and others.
Exercise and fluid replacement. American College of Sports Medicine. www.acsm.org.Sawka, Michael N., Burke, Louise M. (2007).
Dehydration affects brain structure and function in healthy adolescents. Kempton, Ettinger et al
Seven Reasons To Drink More Water – Hungry For Change
Reasons To Drink More Water – Kathleen Zelman MPH, RD
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 5th Edition 2010 – Phyllis A Balch, CNC.