Water supplies the body with essential nutrients, and it also comprises about 70 percent of us. While water may not be as exciting to the taste buds as coffee, energy drinks, sodas, and other eye-catching flavored beverages that are so prevalent in our culture, our bodies need it more than we realize.
In fact, the majority of the population is dehydrated due to their consumption of beverages that don’t pass as fluids. While most drinks contain water as an ingredient, their sugar or caffeine content negates the presence of any natural hydration.
The eight-glass-per-day rule has recently expired, however, as research shows that water consumption varies for everyone. A recent study disproved that there was any scientific basis behind the recommendation to drink eight glasses of water daily, that it was merely a guideline. Each body requires a different amount of water, depending on the amount it loses and needs to replace. Therefore, people who sweat or exercise more often will need to drink more water. We can become dehydrated when our water intake is not equal to our output. The body is more dehydration-prone in warmer climates, high altitudes, while engaged in physical activity, and in older adults.
“Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day,” said Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute. Water contributes to almost every facet of the way our body works, containing a large portion of the fuel that allows our cells to communicate. Human beings can only survive a few days, at absolute most, without hydration.
The best water to drink and use for cooking is that which has been through reverse osmosis, a filter you can attach to the faucet or buy as a separate unit. It removes the fluoride and other chemicals your tap water may contain. However, vitamin water, bottled water, and tap will still be more beneficial than a soda any day. Waters containing vitamins also often stretch the truth of their vitamin content, which doesn’t need to be in water to begin with in order to serve its purpose. It is also recommended to reduce your bottled water intake and use stainless steel or glass bottles to carry water, as plastic bottles can harm both the environment and your body by being thrown away in landfills. While you can recycle, keep in mind that when you drink a bottle of water that has heated up in the sun, you risk drinking in chemicals contained in the plastic.
The Benefits of Water
Function and Balance
Consisting of those crucial hydrogen and oxygen atoms our bodies thrive on, water contributes to numerous systems including circulation, digestion, transferring nutrients, making saliva, and regulating body temperature. The whole body needs water to function, and the brain alerts us when our bodies are running out of fluids by creating the feeling of thirst.
Water contributes to muscle function, as well, by balancing the fluids and electrolytes in cells. When cells are lacking in fluids, it can create muscle fatigue, causing sluggishness and a reduced ability to work properly. Especially when being active, it is necessary to drink before, during and after to stay hydrated. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking approximately 17 ounces of fluid about two hours before you’re active. Find out more about how to hydrate and nourish your body when exercising.
The kidneys are responsible for a very important task, which is basically natural detoxification. “Your kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is adequate,” says Steven Guest, MD, nephrologist at Kaiser Permanente. Body fluids allow waste products to enter and exit cells, including blood urea nitrogen, the body’s main toxin. Luckily, it is water-soluble, and when our bodies are getting the water they need, the kidneys take this toxin right out of us through the urine. Not drinking enough fluids can elevate your risk of kidney stones, notably in warmer climates, according to Guest.
Drinking enough water to replace your body’s lost fluids helps create movement in the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, when your body doesn’t get sufficient fluids, it is more prone to constipation. “Adequate fluid and fiber is the perfect combination, because the fluid pumps up the fiber and acts like a broom to keep your bowel functioning properly,” said Koelemay.
1. Discovery Health. Benefits of Drinking Water.
2. WebMD. 6 Reasons to Drink Water.
3. Image: blog.affinityhealth.org