Every system in the human body counts on water to function. Just a 5 per cent drop in bodily fluids will zap your energy, and a 15 per cent drop could have dire effects.
Before you head off to work or on any long driving trip, you most likely will stop and fill up for a tank of gas. Similar to how you put gasoline and lubricants into your vehicle to make it run properly without stalling; the human body is designed to function on nutrients from food and water. Out of these nutrients, your body uses water to help heal itself from damage or disease and to maintain youthfulness and help carry you into old age in health. As simple as it seems, there are amazing health and beauty benefits of drinking water. Let’s start with some basics.
Facts about water and the human body
The human adult body is made of between 55 to 75 per cent water. Starting with fertility, even before you were born, water was a big part of your life. A growing human embryo consists of more than 80 per cent water, and as a newborn will be approximately 74 per cent water.
Every system in the human body counts on water to function. Just a 5 per cent drop in bodily fluids will zap your energy, and a 15 per cent drop may even cause death.
Inside the human body, the blood is more than 80 per cent water, and the brain is more than 75 per cent water. Outshining them all is the liver, which is necessary to filter out everything that enters the body. The liver is 96 per cent water and works better when water is readily available within the physical system. Water even provides a moist, healthy environment for the ears, nose and throat.
All these facts sound impressive, but knowing water is necessary and having a desire to drink it are often two drastically different views.
Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it. – Lao Tzu
Why drink more water?
From the nutritional and life-giving effect water has on the human body to helping with weight loss and even for beauty reasons, there are plenty of good reasons to drink it:
1. Drinking water keeps your skin youthful and properly hydrated so it is less likely to dry out. Water helps you look younger by keeping skin hydrated and reduces wrinkles by filling in and plumping the skin.
2. Water is a natural stress reliever. Even the sound of rushing waves or running water triggers a soothing response in the body and lowers stress.
3. Drinking water helps burn fat.
4. Drinking water builds healthy muscle because it carries oxygen to the cells that build and strengthen muscle tissue. Water helps to make the muscles stronger – An imbalance of electrolytes leads to discomfort, such as muscle fatigue. Water helps maintain the proper balance needed to strengthen muscles.
5. Water boosts mood and brainpower. It is estimated that the brain makes up only about 1/50 of the entire weight of the body but uses 1/20 of the blood supply. Drinking water helps you think clearly to learn as it increases cognitive function because it helps to deliver the oxygen the brain needs. Studies have shown that drinking 8 to 10 cups of water a day improves brain performance by as much as 30 per cent. Additionally, drinking water supports proper nerve function, making it easier for the brain and the nervous system to communicate.
6. Water lubricates the cartilage and joints for healthy joint movement. Back pain and rheumatoid joint pain has been shown to be relieved with proper water intake. Picture a hydraulic lift, and you get a pretty good visionary picture of how water supports the spine. Water is stored in the disc’s cores within the spine to create a hydraulic property to support spinal joints and help to support upper body weight.
7. Water regulates body temperature. Water is used in perspiration to cool you down and prevent you from becoming overheated. Proper hydration also helps to bring down high fevers.
8. Water helps to protect body organs and tissues.
9. Water helps to lessen the burden on your kidneys and liver to flush out toxins and other waste products, like uric and lactic acid, from your body.
10. Some studies have shown that asthma sufferers typically find relief when water intake is increased because the histamine levels decrease with water and increase with dehydration.
11. Water carries nutrients and oxygen to cells by moving proteins, enzymes, hormones, oxygen and antibodies throughout the bloodstream and lymphatic system. Water helps dissolve minerals and other nutrients to make them more accessible to the body.
12. It helps the body heal faster when sick or undergoing treatments for ailments and helps alleviate aches and pains, even those caused by arthritis. Even if you don’t drink it, it prevents the spread of disease when you use it with soap to wash your hands.
13. Warm water opens pores and cold water closes them to help create a healthy facial glow and even skin tones.
14. It helps you lose weight and maintain weight loss. No, it’s not a magic bullet like waving a magical fairy’s wand. The way it works is that when your belly is full of water, you are less likely to fill hungry. One study revealed that adults who drank two 8-ounce glasses of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner ended up eating 75 to 90 fewer calories during each meal.
15. Drinking water prevents constipation by providing the proper amount of fluids to the gastrointestinal tract. Drinking water maintains a balance of fluids in our body to aid in digestion, circulation, transfer and absorption of nutrients, maintaining a proper body temperature, and to create saliva.
How much is enough?
Experts don’t seem to completely agree on how much water is enough. There is a cute little way to remember a basic formula of 8 times 8, which means drink an 8-ounce glass of water 8 times a day.
As clever and easy to remember as this formula is, studies have revealed that, perhaps, more than 8 glasses is actually needed for ultimate health. Some say to drink eleven 8-ounce glasses a day. Others recommend that a non-active person drink half an ounce of water per every pound of body weight, per day which amounts to roughly 9 glasses for most women and 13 glasses for most men.
An active person needs to drink more. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking 17 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise and at regular intervals throughout the workout or exertion.
Every day, your body will use around 2 quarts of water just to survive. Water is even used to breathe as water is used in lubricating your lungs. Breathing alone uses between one to two pints of water a day. Adults lose approximately 12 cups of water each day through perspiring, urinating and breathing.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women need more water per day than those who are not growing or nurturing a baby. According to the Institute of Medicine, pregnant women need approximately 10 cups of water a day, and breastfeeding mothers need as many as 13 cups a day.
During hot weather, you will need more water than on cold days. Higher altitudes create the need for more water than lower altitudes, and active people will need more water while exercising.
More than counting ounces, there are physical signs that indicate whether or not you are getting enough water. When you are properly hydrated, your urine should be a light yellow colour; and, you will produce around 6 cups of urine a day. Though most people won’t be measuring their output, if it is dark, you probably need more water.
It is difficult to drink too much water, though it has happened rarely. It is more likely that a person doesn’t get enough.
The Tale Tell Signs You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
Simply put, when your water intake is less than the water leaving your body, you are on your way to becoming dehydrated. Some indicators of dehydration include joint pain, migraines, stomach aches, ulcers, back pain, lack of energy, confusion, or even water retention as the body tries to compensate for the lack of water in its system.
It is natural for your body to lose water throughout the day. Just breathing uses up water, as it lubricates the lungs. More water is lost through the skin and when you use the restroom to eliminate fluids and solid waste from the body.
Dehydration sounds drastic, but the truth is that even slight dehydration runs its toll on the body. University researchers have reported that even mild dehydration is linked to anger, depression, and even confusion. Other studies suggest that dehydration impairs brain functions. Chronic fatigue syndrome has even been linked to dehydration.
When you feel that dry mouth thirst, you are already on your way to dehydration. Make an effort to drink a glass of water at the first signs of thirst.
What about other beverages?
While some complain that water has no flavour, there is a notable difference between drinking pure water and consuming other beverages. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, pulling water away from your body. It also acts to stimulate which creates stress on the adrenal gland. The phosphorous in sodas rob the bones of calcium, and soda also has unhealthy amounts of sodium and sugar. Fruit juices have loads of sugar that send the pancreas into overload.
Avoid drinks that pose as healthy, but really have artificial sweeteners, hidden sugars, phosphorous or an extreme amount of electrolytes. However, even drinking water needs to ideally be filtered to achieve the best results.
Tips on drinking more water to stay healthy
Make it a habit to drink a glass of water every time you eat a snack or a meal, and at least one glass in between meals. Determine the proper daily amount of water you need, and fill up jug of water in the morning to provide you with the water you need throughout the day. If the jug is empty at the end of the day, you succeeded in drinking enough.
Here are a few more helpful tips to help enjoy drinking more water:
- Keep a bottle of water or a filled personal spill-proof stainless steel or BPA-free plastic cup with you, in your car, in your purse or bag, and at your desk.
- Use a filter on your faucets or fridge water dispenser, or use a pitcher that has a built-in filter.
- Add a squeeze of lemon for flavour. The lemon also serves as a natural water purifier.
- Throw in just a touch of some of your other favourite fruits just to add a hint of flavour.
- Keep a decanter filled with water in the fridge.
- Eat fruits and vegetables that contain high amounts of water, like tomatoes or watermelon.
Don’t worry about needing to have a bathroom close by because you’ve upped your water intake. Your body will gradually start to adjust. Ultimately, the amazing health and beauty benefits of drinking more water are well worth the effort. Let me know how water is impacting your health. Leave a comment below.
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