Water is the body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of a person’s body weight. Water keeps crucial bodily functions working properly, including digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and body temperature control. Fluid losses occur continuously through skin evaporation, breathing and passing urine and stool – these losses must be replaced daily for good health.
All liquids help sustain hydration. Water usually is the best choice, because it contains no sugar or calories. Most healthy people can get enough fluid through the beverages they consume every day. These can include water, fruit juices, coffee, sodas, iced tea and other drinks. Some fruits and vegetables also include water content, such as watermelon and lettuce.
When water intake does not equal output, dehydration can occur. When dehydrated, the body no longer has enough fluid to deliver blood to the organs. Fluid losses are accentuated in warmer climates, during strenuous exercise, in high altitudes, and in older adults, whose sense of thirst may not be as acute.
A common recommendation is to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water or other fluid every day. However, some adults may need more or less, depending on how healthy they are, how much they exercise, how hot and dry the climate is, and if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Urine color is an easy indicator to determine appropriate water intake. Drinking a sufficient amount of water yields a clear or pale yellow urine color. A darker yellow colored urine signifies not enough water is being consumed. People who drink enough water also usually have soft bowel movements.
The following are a variety of health benefits from drinking water:
Water Helps to Maximize Physical Performance
Staying hydrated helps the human body perform at its absolute best. This is particularly important during intense exercise or high heat. Losing as little as 2 percent of the body’s water content can significantly impair physical performance. This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation and increased fatigue, making exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally. Optimal hydration has been shown to prevent this from happening.
Hydration Has a Major Effect on Energy Levels and Brain Function
The brain is strongly influenced by hydration status. Studies show that even mild dehydration (1-3 percent of body weight) can impair many aspects of brain function. In a study of young women, fluid loss of 1.36 percent after exercise impaired both mood and concentration, and increased the frequency of headaches. Another similar study in young men, showed that fluid loss of 1.59 percent was detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue.
Drinking Water May Help to Prevent and Treat Common Ailments
Dehydration can trigger headaches and migraines in some individuals. Several studies have shown that water can relieve headaches in those who are dehydrated. Constipation is a common problem, characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stool. Low water consumption appears to be a risk factor for constipation in both young and elderly individuals. Increasing fluid intake often is recommended as a part of the treatment and for prevention.
Drinking Water May Help Treat Kidney Stones
Urinary stones are painful clumps of mineral crystal that form in the urinary system. The most common form is kidney stones, which form in the kidneys. Water intake can help prevent recurrence in people who previously have developed kidney stones. Higher fluid intake increases the volume of urine passing through the kidneys, which dilutes the concentration of minerals, and are less likely to crystallize and form clumps. Water also may help prevent the initial formation of stones.
Drinking More Water Can Help with
Drinking plenty of water can increase satiety and boost metabolic rate. Drinking water thirty minutes before meals is the most effective. It can make you feel fuller, so that fewer calories are eaten. Studies have shown that drinking 2 liters of water every day can increase total energy expenditure by up to 96 calories per day. Additionally, it is best to drink water cold, since additional energy (calories) is used to heat the water to body temperature.
If you have any health problems, consult your physician before increasing the amount of water you drink. You may need to limit your fluids if you have certain health concerns, such as kidney problems or heart failure.
Licking Memorial Health Systems