The importance of water in our body cannot be exaggerated. The presence of water on the planet Earth is the only reason life can exist at all – it is the essence of our survival. Not only does it mean we can live, but it also allows us to thrive. The presence of the right amount of water can maximize the efficiency of our biological processes.
Here we explore the reasons for staying well hydrated.
How much water is optimal?
You can stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eating moisture-rich food. You should get thirsty regularly and this is your body signalling that it requires fluids. Usually, by the time you are thirsty, your body is already considered dehydrated. Therefore, to reliably keep yourself to the appropriate levels of hydration, you should calculate how much water you are consuming each day and measuring this against advised standards.
The guidance from the NHS is 6 – 8 glasses of water. This should be non-caffeinated fluid. 30% will likely come from food. If this feels a little imprecise, then we can look to EFSA who recommend 2.5 liters for men and 2 liters for women.
You will also need to increase your water intake if you exercise strenuously or if you live in a hot country.
How can you know if you are dehydrated? You can look at the color of your urine. If it is a darker yellow, almost brown, then you need to take on fluids. Your urine should be the color of hay or clear.
Why is water so important?
There are plenty of reasons to make sure your intake of fluid is appropriate. These reasons include:
- It helps you produce saliva. Saliva is necessary to assist us in swallowing, and it improves our ability to breakdown food.
- It helps regulate your body temperature. We sweat to cool ourselves when we are hot. If we are exercising or in a warmer climate, our body uses water to keep this heat in check. By drinking water, you replace this fluid and therefore prevent the loss of essential electrolytes.
- Water protects joints and tissues. We may be a living creature, but we are essentially a biological machine. For our joints to function well and the surrounding tissue to offer the appropriate elasticity requires lubrication. Consequently, drinking the proper amount of water helps to maintain your range of motion and to protect your joints. In short, it is essential to staying in good physical shape.
- Fluids are needed for ridding our body of waste products. The liquid you need is not only used to help you pass stool and expel toxins through your urine. You also lose a lot of nasty products when you sweat too. If you are dehydrated, you could struggle to eliminate this waste from the body. You could battle with constipation – your bowel is reliant on water to help with the movement of stool. Equally, if you cannot go to the toilet regularly, you may start to experience bouts of incontinence.
- You will digest food more efficiently. Did your mum always insist that you have a drink with your meal? You may have thought that this took up essential space that could be taken with the delicious food. However, drinking water when you eat helps with the process of digestion. The fluid will also help you absorb the essential nutrients from the food you have eaten, making your whole system healthier.
- It helps your brain work better. Your brain is mostly water. If you fail to drink enough, it shrinks. This shrinkage from lack of fluid leads to fuzzy thinking, lack of concentration, poor memory and reduced cognitive function. Fortunately, plenty of water will rehydrate the brain and return it to its full size and capacity.
Are you persuaded yet?
There is such a lot to suggest drinking more water is the best decision you can make. However, we have left two of the most motivating reasons for last. Are you trying to lose weight? Drink water. Are you trying to improve your skin? Drink water.
Water increases your metabolism. This increase in metabolism means that you will a) have more energy and b) process calories quicker. The result? Your body will be more efficient in processing calories – plus you will feel like exercising more.
Water expels the toxins that ruin our skin. Therefore, if you are worried about breakouts before your big date – drink more water.
Just remember that 60% of the human body is water. Your skin is 64% water. Your brain and heart are 73% water. It makes sense to give them what they need.