Nutrient - Water
Why Is Water Important?
We hear constantly that water is essential for our health. But why?
Water makes up the majority of your body weight and is involved in many important functions, including:
*Flushing out waste from our bodies
*Regulating body temperature
*Helping your brain function
We get most of your water from drinking beverages, but food also contributes a small amount to your daily water intake.
Water helps improve our well-being.
Helps create saliva
Water is a main component of saliva. Saliva also includes small amounts of electrolytes, mucus, and enzymes. It’s essential for breaking down solid food and keeping our mouth healthy.
Our body generally produces enough saliva with regular fluid intake. However, our saliva production may decrease as a result of age or certain medications or therapies.
If our mouth is drier than normal and increasing our water intake isn’t helping, see your doctor.
Helps regulates your body temperature
Staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining your body temperature. Our bodies loses water through perspiration during physical activity and in hot environments.
Our perspiration keeps our bodies cool, but our body temperature will rise if we don’t replenish the water we lose. That’s because our body loses electrolytes and plasma when it’s dehydrated.
If we are perspiring more than usual, make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Protection of your tissues, spinal cord, and joints
Water consumption helps lubricate and cushion our joints, spinal cord, and tissues. This helps us enjoy physical activity and lessen discomfort caused by conditions like arthritis.
Helps excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation
Our bodies uses water to perspire, urinate, and have bowel movements.
Perspiration regulates body temperature when we exercise or are in warm temperatures. We need water to replenish the lost fluid from perspiration.
We also need enough water in our system to have healthy stool and avoid constipation.
Our kidneys are also important for filtering out waste through urination. Adequate water intake helps our kidneys work more efficiently and helps to prevent kidney stones.
Helps maximize physical performance
Drinking plenty of water during physical activity is essential. Athletes may perspire up to 6 to 10% of body weight during physical activity.
Hydration also affects our strength, power, and endurance.
We are more susceptible to the effects of dehydration if we are participating in endurance training or high-intensity sports such as basketball.
Negative effects of exercise in the heat without enough water can include serious medical conditions, like decreased blood pressure and hyperthermia. Extreme dehydration can cause seizures and even death.
Helps prevent constipation
Eating fibre isn’t the only way to prevent constipation. It’s also important to maintain our water intake so our bowel movements contain enough water.
If we don’t consume enough water, magnesium, and fibre, we are more likely to experience constipation.
If you are already constipated, you may find that drinking carbonated water as well as plain water can help ease your symptoms.
Aids in digestion
Contrary to what some believe, experts confirm drinking water before, during, and after a meal will help our bodies break down the food we eat more easily. This will help us digest food more effectively and get the most out of our meals.
Research shows our bodies adapts to changes in the consistency of food and stomach contents, whether more solid or more liquid.
Helps with nutrient absorption
In addition to helping with food breakdown, water also helps dissolve vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from our food. It then delivers these vitamin components to the rest of our body for use.
Helps you lose weight
Studies have linked body fat and weight loss with drinking water in both overweight girls and women. Drinking more water while dieting and exercising may just help us lose extra pounds.
Improves blood oxygen circulation
Water carries helpful nutrients and oxygen through our entire bodies. Reaching our daily water intake will improve our circulation and have a positive impact on our overall health.
Helps fight off illness
Drinking enough water can help prevent certain medical conditions. These include:
* UTI (Urinary tract infection)
Water also helps us absorb important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from our food, which will increase our chances of staying healthy.
Helps boost energy
Drinking water may activate our metabolism. A boost in metabolism has been associated with a positive impact on energy level.
One study found that drinking 500ml of water boosted the metabolic rate by 30% in both men and women. These effects appeared to last over an hour.
Aids in cognitive function
Proper hydration is key to staying in tip-top cognitive shape. Research indicates that not drinking enough water can negatively impact our focus, alertness, and short-term memory.
Helps improve mood
Not getting enough water can also affect our mood. Dehydration may result in fatigue and confusion as well as anxiety.
Helps keep skin bright
Adequate water intake will help keep our skin hydrated and may promote collagen production. However, water intake alone isn’t enough to reduce the effects of aging. This process is also connected to our genes and overall sun protection.
Prevents overall dehydration
Dehydration is the result of our bodies not having enough water. Water is imperative to so many bodily functions, dehydration can be very dangerous.
Severe dehydration can result in a number of severe complications, including:
*Swelling in your brain
Make sure we drink enough water to make up for what’s lost through perspiration, urination, and bowel movements to avoid dehydration.
How much water should we drink?
Being attentive to the amount of water we drink each day is important for optimal health. Most of us drink when we’re thirsty, which helps regulate daily water intake.
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, general water intake (from all beverages and foods) that meet most of our needs are:
*about 6.5 pints of water (3.7L) each day for men
*about 4.75 pints of water (2.7L) each day for women
Generally we get about 20% of our daily water intake from food. The rest is dependent on drinking water and water-based beverages. So, ideally men would consume about 3L of water from beverages, and women, about 2.12L from beverages.
We have to increase our water intake if we are exercising or living in a hotter country to avoid dehydration.
Other ways to assess hydration include our thirst and the colour of our urine. Feeling thirsty indicates our body is not receiving adequate hydration. Urine that is dark or coloured indicates dehydration. Pale or non-coloured urine typically indicates proper hydration.
The bottom line
Water is important to nearly every part of our body. Not only will hitting our daily recommended intake help us maintain our current state of being, it may even improve our overall health.
Some ideas for how we can be sure we drink enough:
*Carry a water bottle with you wherever we go. This way we can drink whenever the need strikes.
*Keep track of our intake. Aim to take in optimum amounts every day, a minimum of half our body weight.
*Pace ourselves to approach half of our recommended consumption by midday. We can always finish about an hour before we plan to sleep.