We have always been told to drink eight cups of water a day. It is important that throughout the course of the day you replace any water that you have lost and you can do this by drinking water or other liquids or eating foods with plenty of water in them. If you are older or live in warmer climates, high altitudes or do strenuous exercise, you will need to drink more water than the average person. The reason we need water so much is that water brings great benefit to our body. This article will elaborate on these benefits, as well as tips for water intake.
What does Water Do for the Body?
1. Balance Body Fluids
Drinking water is essential to ensure that your body maintains its balance of fluids. Remember that 60% of the body is water and these fluids are necessary for maintaining body temperature, transporting nutrients, creating saliva, circulation, absorption and digestion. The brain (via the posterior pituitary gland) tells the kidneys how much of its water supply it should keep and how much it should excrete in the form of urine. If you don’t have enough fluids in your body, the brain will make you feel thirsty. Whenever you are thirsty, you should always listen to your body and have something to drink; this can include anything except alcohol which will make your kidneys excrete too much fluid, causing dehydration.
2. Control Calories
Water itself won’t help you lose weight but when you choose to drink water instead of another beverage, it will help you cut caloric intake and therefore increasing weight loss. If you want to lose weight, you should always choose water or another drink without calories. It is also a good idea to try eating foods that are rich in water because they usually look bigger which means you need to chew them more. When you chew more, your body absorbs the food more slowly and as a result you will feel fuller. That’s why selecting water-rich foods such as beans, oatmeal, broth-based soups, fruits and vegetables can help you lose weight.
3. Energize Muscles
Water also helps energize our muscles. If our cells don’t have enough electrolytes and fluids they will shrivel and become fatigued, which can lead to decreased performance. Because of this you should always be sure to drink enough fluids while exercising. Ideally you should have 17 ounces around two hours before you start exercising and continue drinking at regular intervals during the exercise.
4. Make Your Skin Glow
If you are dehydrated, your skin will become wrinkled and dry. When you get plenty of water, however, your skin will help prevent you from losing excess amounts of fluid. It is important to remember, however, that over-hydration won’t do much. Instead your kidneys will simply excrete any excess fluids. If you want to help lock the moisture into your skin, you can use a moisturizer as these create a physical barrier so your skin won’t lose the moisture.
5. Improve Kidney Function
The fluids in your body work to transport waste products between cells. The kidneys are responsible for cleansing the body of any toxins such as blood urea nitrogen, which is water-soluble. But in order for the kidneys to work properly, you need to drink enough water. If you have enough fluids in your body, your urine will be odor-free and color-free but if you are dehydrated it will become more concentrated so your kidneys can store more water. If you don’t drink enough water on a regular basis, you will have an increased risk of kidney stones.
6. Maintain Normal Bowel Movement
Water is also crucial to normal bowel movements. That is because if you don’t have enough fluid in your body, your colon will take some water out of the stools and that will lead to constipation. Ideally you should have plenty of fluids as well as fiber.
7. Detoxify Your Body
Drinking water is the most effective way to detoxify your body. Your kidneys won’t be able to expel the toxins if they are dehydrated. When that happens, your bowel function, kidneys and liver will all be affected, leading to a buildup of toxins in your blood. You can also add fresh juice such as lemon juice to detoxify your body.
8. Regulate Body Temperature
Water is also the body’s way of keeping cool. That is why you should always drink water when exercising. If you are doing moderate exercise, you should always select water instead of something with sugar or carbohydrates as your body will absorb more of it.
9. Lubricate Joints
Water is a huge component in the fluid that is responsible for cushioning and lubricating your joints. Although other factors are involved, being mildly dehydrated can increase your risk of getting muscle cramps which is why it is so important to stay hydrated while exercising.
10.Deliver Nutrients to the Body
Our bodies receive oxygen and nutrients through the bloodstream and because blood is 92% water, staying hydrated is crucial. When we eat, the digestive system makes the food water-soluble and then water allows the nutrients to go between capillaries so they can enter the circulatory and blood system.
How Much Water Do You Need?
As mentioned earlier, the standard recommendation is to drink about 64 ounces (1.9 liters) of water a day or 8 glasses. However, the MayoClinic recommends that men have around 3.0 liters a day and women have around 2.2. It is important to remember that your personal water requirements will depend on multiple factors.
What Kind of Water to Drink
Sources of Fluid
Fresh water is the best source of fluid because it doesn’t have any kilojoules. Other options include any other liquid such as milk, soup, coffee, soft drinks and juice.
Bottled water doesn’t usually have fluoride but tap water does in many locations and this can help your teeth and bones.
Milk is a great option with around 90% water and tea is also a great source of liquids as well as polyphenols and antioxidants to help you prevent cancer and heart disease.
If you have the choice, you should go with fresh fruit instead of fruit juice because there is less sugar and more nutrients and fiber. You should avoid drinking sweet drinks (such as sugary soft drinks and fruit drinks) that add unnecessary calories.
Tips for Increasing Water Intake
- Add a bit of lime or lemon juice to give your water more flavor
- Always keep water with you in your bag or at your desk
- Try adding fresh fruit ice cubes to your water
Limit Mineral Water Intake
Mineral water usually contains salt and that will make you retain fluids. It can also cause swelling and increase your blood pressure. You should always opt for low sodium options or simply limit your intake.