7 Surprising Benefits of Drinking Water
It might not be your favorite thing to drink, but water is extremely essential for your body to function properly. About 60 percent of our bodies are made of water, so it’s important to replenish fluids throughout the day not only to avoid dehydration, but to keep your body healthy. While drinking water may not be a cure-all for sickness and ailments, it has a long list of benefits to your overall health.
How much water should I drink a day?
Odds are, you don’t drink as much water as you should. Many people don’t and instead wait to get thirsty to remember to drink water. However, being thirsty is a sign that you are already dehydrated. The standard amount of water to drink varies from person to person, though the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend about 12.5 cups of water for men and about 9 cups for women. Some people may need more based on their activity, illnesses, medications, or size.
The good news? You can get your intake of water from different sources, not just plain drinking water. Fruits, vegetables, other foods, and nonalcoholic fluids all contribute to your overall daily water intake.
The role of water in the body
Water is crucial to the functioning of the body. It plays a role in digestion, absorption, circulation, transportation of nutrients, creation of saliva, and the maintenance of body temperature. It normalizes blood pressure and stabilizes your heartbeat. Water cushions your joints and protects your organs and tissues. It also helps maintain your electrolyte (sodium) balance.
Dehydration occurs when your body loses more water than it takes in. Your body loses water daily through functions like sweating, breathing, peeing, pooping, and through saliva and tears. Usually, you can replenish the lost water by eating enough food and drinking enough fluids throughout the day, but sometimes, your body doesn’t receive enough fluids, causing it to become dehydrated. Young children and older people are more at risk of becoming dehydrated because they don’t sense thirst as well as others.
Some initial signs of dehydration include:
• dry mouth
• dark yellow pee
• muscle cramps
Your body can lose water more quickly by having a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and sweating excessively. Some medications may cause you to urinate more frequently, which can also make you dehydrated. Hot weather can also cause your body to lose more fluids, so it’s important to stay hydrated when the temperatures outside rise.
You can avoid dehydration by drinking fluids gradually throughout the day. Some tips to increase your fluid intake include:
• Have a beverage with every snack and meal, as well as with medicine and in social situations.
• Choose beverages you enjoy drinking so you’ll be more likely to drink them.
• Eat more fruits and vegetables, which have higher water content than other foods.
• Keep a bottle of water with you as often as you can and in different locations, like your bag, bedroom, desk at work, or car.
• Choose beverages that meet your individual needs, whether that’s high-calorie drinks to gain weight, or low-calorie drinks to lose it.
Benefits of drinking water
Below, you’ll find some unexpected benefits of drinking water.
Water keeps skin looking healthy. When you’re dehydrated, your skin can become vulnerable to premature wrinkling and skin disorders. Your skin serves as a protective barrier to prevent more fluid loss. By staying hydrated, you avoid looking dry and wrinkled.
Water can help with weight loss. Drinking water instead of sugary, caloric drinks can help prevent weight gain from those extra calories. You can also drink water before meals to feel fuller before eating. This is called “preloading” and can prevent overeating. Foods with more water in them like fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, and beans absorb slower in the body and can also help you feel full quicker.
Water prevents kidney damage. Your kidneys help rid your body of toxins which are excreted in the urine. When you take in adequate fluids, this helps your kidneys run smoothly and regulate the fluids in your body. By drinking enough water, you prevent the formation of kidney stones, kidney disease and other kidney problems.
Water maintains normal bowel function. Your digestive system depends on water to function normally. By not drinking enough water, you’re more at risk for constipation, an overly acidic stomach, and digestive problems that can result in heartburn and stomach ulcers.
Water energizes your muscles. It’s important to drink water often before, during and after exercise to avoid dehydration and to keep your muscles performing well. When cells can’t maintain their balance of electrolytes and fluids, it can result in muscle fatigue.
Water helps regulate your body temperature. When your body heats up, water comes up to the skin’s surface and evaporates through sweat which cools your body down. By staying hydrated, you maintain this process of cooling the body down.
Water helps you breathe better. In an effort to minimize water loss when you’re dehydrated, the body’s airways are restricted, making it more difficult to breathe. This can aggravate asthma and allergies.
The benefits of drinking enough water each day are pretty clear. You body has to work twice as hard when it doesn’t receive the substantial amount of fluids it needs, causing you to become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to a multitude of health problems if not resolved quickly, so it’s important to maintain your body’s fluids and drink up!