There is one thing that all creatures – large and small – have in common: water is essential to their survival. The human body is no exception. Our body is composed of roughly 60 percent water. Thus, water is vital to numerous bodily functions.
Here is a short list of what water does for us:
- forms saliva
- normalizes body temperature
- converts food to minerals used by the body
- delivers oxygen all over the body
- lubricates joints
- flushes body waste
- permits the growth and maintenance of cells
- moistens mucosal membranes
- absorbs shock to the brain and spinal cord
In short, water aids absorption, circulation, digestion, nutrient transportation, regulation of body temperature, and more. Let’s get a bit more specific about the benefits of H20.
Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. According to H.H. Mitchell … the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%. – The United States Department of the Interior
Drinking water is a must: here’s what happens if you do not
Dehydration can lead to a range of health issues. Here are ten things that can happen if someone is not drinking water in sufficient amounts:
- Thirst: This is the most immediate and unmistakable sign. The body signals its need for fluids by making you feel thirsty.
- Dark Urine: Dark yellow or amber-colored urine can indicate dehydration. Typically, hydrated urine is light yellow to clear.
- Dry Skin: The skin can become dry and less elastic. The “pinch test,” where the skin takes longer to return to its normal position after being pinched, can be an indicator.
- Fatigue: Dehydration can lead to feeling tired or lethargic. Water is essential for cellular processes, and a lack of it can slow down bodily functions.
- Headaches: Dehydration can lead to headaches or migraines as the brain temporarily contracts or shrinks due to fluid loss, leading to pain.
- Constipation: Water helps to soften stools and promotes regular bowel movements. Thus, a lack of water can lead to harder stools and constipation.
- Dizziness or Light-headedness: Reduced water intake can lead to a drop in blood pressure. As a result, one may have dizziness or light-headedness.
- Rapid Heartbeat and Rapid Breathing: The heart has to work harder to pump blood as the blood volume decreases due to dehydration. That may lead to an increased heart rate. Breathing may also become rapid as the body tries to get more oxygen.
- Reduced Kidney Function: The kidneys require a sufficient amount of water to help filter waste from the blood. Chronic dehydration can lead to kidney stones and other kidney problems.
- Cognitive Impairments: Dehydration can affect cognitive functions, leading to difficulties in concentration, alertness, and short-term memory.
Here are seven science-backed benefits of drinking water on a regular basis
Now that you know the issues that may arise from NOT drinking water, here are the benefits of proper hydration:
1. Higher Energy Levels and Better Brain Function
The brain weighs about three pounds. Water accounts for approximately 2.2 pounds of this. It’s hardly a surprise that water directly impacts brain function.
Dehydration consistently indicates compromised cognitive health. Evidence from cortical function tests confirms that even mild dehydration can weaken mental capabilities in younger individuals. Often, cognitive disturbances due to dehydration manifest as delirium.
2. Relief of Digestive Problems
Water is critical for saturating the gut and softening food for digestion. Food cannot be efficiently absorbed and passed out of the body without it. Drinking water is shown to help relieve constipation. Water helps soften the stool and maintain and improve intestinal health.
3. Accelerated Weight Loss
Water increases satiety – the feeling of being full. As a result, we eat less both during and after meals. Additionally, water boosts our metabolic rate, allowing us to burn more calories at rest. Many studies show that drinking water may increase the metabolism for up to 30 percent for as long as 1.5 hours.
4. Fewer and/or Milder Headaches
Dehydration is a leading cause of headaches and migraines. To illustrate, consider the morning after having too many glasses of vino. That headache? Acute dehydration causes it.
Drinking water doesn’t lead to fewer headaches for everyone. However, studies show that drinking large quantities of water may help to shorten a headache’s span. It may also reduce the intensity of the symptoms.
5. Better Mood
Who doesn’t want to have a better mood? Perhaps you’ve been dealing with a bit more volatility than usual. Drinking more water may help!
In a study published in the journal Appetite, 120 female college students documented everything they ate and drank over five days. After analyzing participant responses to mood assessments, the outcome was clear: “The greater the water consumption, the better the mood.”
More specifically, confusion, depression, and tension scores decreased as water intake increased!
6. Better Physical Performance
Studies show that as little as a two-percent loss of the body’s water content can cause physical performance to suffer. For example, consider that athletes can lose between 6-10% of water levels through sweat.
Increased water consumption results in better temperature control, higher motivation, less fatigue, and more physical and mental vitality. This is especially important during periods of physical strain – for example, exercise.
7. Improved Urinary Health
As you probably know, water is the main component of urine. It is also critical to the health and functioning of the renal system, which “produces, stores, and eliminates urine.” Water also helps to detoxify the kidneys and improve their function.
One such example of H20’s effect on the urinary system is apparent from studies regarding kidney stones. Water destabilizes the components that make up kidney stones, allowing them to be passed through the renal system at a higher rate. As a result, the time frame for total recovery drops. Water may also help to prevent the formation of stones. (Additional studies are required to verify this.)
Final Thoughts on Drinking Water for Peak Health
Your body relies on water to survive. Aside from preserving life, water also enhances it. It improves the performance of every bodily system.
More debatable is the question, “How much water do we need?” Per the Mayo Clinic:
“Most healthy people can stay hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some people, fewer than eight glasses a day may be enough. But other people might need more.”
The Clinic states that 64 ounces (roughly eight cups) of water daily is enough for most people. Factors that affect the amount of water you need include exercise, environment, overall health, and pregnancy. You can adjust your water intake according to your situation.