Sixty percent of the adult human body is comprised of water. Our bodily fluids: blood, lymph, digestive juices, urine, tears, and sweat are predominantly made up of water. Living healthy must include conscious water consumption.
Water is critical to almost every bodily function–circulation, digestion, absorption, and elimination of wastes, just to name a few. When toxins from our environment (or food) make their way into our bodies, they are carried out in our urine (95% water) and our sweat (99% water).
The amount of water required can vary from person to person. Where we live, our activity level and our diets will influence how much water our bodies need. As our body uses energy, we lose water, so it's important to constantly lubricate ourselves. Turns out that to avoid even moderate dehydration, 8 cups of water is a pretty good starting point for living healthy and staying hydrated. Some suggest 8 (8 oz) glasses a day, while others suggest taking your body weight (in pounds), dividing it in half and drinking that many ounces. Depending on your diet, this could give you slightly more water than you need. Most people receive about 20 percent of their daily hydration needs from their food, according to the Mayo Clinic. But a little bit of extra water won't do any harm.
If you're exercising, you will need to compensate for the water lost from sweat. For a typical workout, lasting about 30 minutes, about two cups of extra water should be enough.
Here are eight reasons to keep drinking water:
1. Keeps your mind sharp: Our brains are mostly water. Drinking it keeps your mind "hydrated" – it helps you think, improves concentration, and keeps you alert.
2. Moisturizes skin: Forget expensive and chemical-laden skin moisturizers. Let nature do its work. Water keeps your skin soft and supple, and reduces wrinkles. Need we say more?
3. Prevents headaches: Did you know, most headaches are caused by mild hydration? If you are prone to headaches, try upping your water intake. Staying hydrated can even help eliminate or reduce incidence of migraine headaches.
4. Decreases muscle cramps: Water is the body's natural lubrication system. Proper hydration will keep your joints lubricated and your muscles more supple and elastic – which will reduce pain.
5. Removes toxins: Our bodies use water to naturally flush out waste through sweat and urination, ensuring better system balance. If you suffer kidney stones or chronic Urinary Tract Infections – water is your best bet!
6. Boosts immune function: Considering the important role that water plays in so many of our body systems and processes, it is no wonder that someone who drinks water regularly is less likely to get sick. Staying hydrated can help protect you from everything from the common cold and flu, to more serious diseases like cancer and heart attacks.
7. Supports healthy weight: Water helps keep our appetite in check by giving us a sense of fullness so we feel satisfied.
During periods of weight loss, the body will break down more substances that require elimination. Toxins that have been stored in fat tissue can be released in greater amounts during this time. Water helps to flush these out of our bodies.
Water is especially important for people who follow low carb/high protein diets, which tend to put extra stress on our kidneys due to nitrogen buildup. It takes a bit more water to process this excess nitrogen byproduct.
8. Improves digestion: Perhaps most important is the role that water plays in digestion. Good health is dependent on good digestion. Water is critical to food digestion and absorption. Water also helps to prevent constipation, which can inhibit good digestion and elimination.
So, although as North Americans we are very fortunate to have easy access to decent water supplies, there is still an opportunity to optimize the quality of our drinking water. Refer to this article from Naturally Savvy on filtration and water sources for more information.
So, remember, the next time you need to quench your thirst, choose water. Your body will thank you with good health.