Water, it is a huge part of our very existence. Water covers a little over 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface. It is not overly dramatic to say that life as we know it could not exist without the presence of water.
For decades, medical professionals from a variety of disciplines have counselled us to consume water and touted water’s benefits. While the recommended amounts may change based on new research findings, the advice to drink more water will not.
Benefits of Drinking Water
1. Maintain Joint Health – Water is an essential substance to keep your joints healthy. Cartilage contains about 80 per cent water. If you are not maintaining enough water, your cartilage will wear down faster. Proper hydration also reduces pain because of improved cushioning capabilities of well-hydrated cartilage.
2. Helps With Breathing – Without enough water in your body, your airways will restrict to prevent water loss. This makes breathing more difficult and can create complications for those who have problems like asthma.
3. Improves the Health of Your Kidneys – Because the kidneys control the amounts of fluid in the body, lack of hydration can lead to issues like kidney stones. Stones occur because of a buildup of excess minerals in the kidneys. Enough water helps to flush the unneeded minerals out of the kidneys.
4. Keeps Your Digestive System on Track – Water is essential to digestion. It helps your body access certain minerals and vitamins, controls the acidity of your stomach, and prevents constipation.
5. Helps to Control Body Temperature – Stored water comes to the surface of your skin when you become warm. This perspiration is your body’s way of trying to cool you. Without enough water, heat builds up in your body, and heat-related health issues occur.
6. Works to Help Manage or Lose Weight – Because your body needs water to function properly, any sense of deprivation will make the body retain water. This often causes water weight gain. Proper hydration allows the body to release water-reducing weight. Swapping sugary drinks with water cuts empty calories from your diet, which promotes weight loss. Additionally, consuming a glass of water before meals helps you to feel full and allows you to eat less.
7. Slows the Signs of Aging – Without the right level of hydration, your skin will lose its lustre and appear dry. As time goes on, the skin will sag and wrinkle without enough water.
Will I Know if I Am Drinking Enough Water?
Because our bodies are between 50-75 per cent water, depending on age and body composition, we are physically hard-wired for it. Just like an engine will exhibit signs when it lacks coolant, oil, or fuel, your body has a number of ways to let you know you should drink more water.
Signs You Are Not Drinking Enough Water:
- Excessive Thirst – This may seem obvious, but a surprising number of people ignore thirst. Frequently, people will try to quench their thirst with sugary sodas, sports drinks, or juices. None of these beverages will benefit your body the way that water can.
- Dry Skin – Many people who experience dry skin try, often unsuccessfully, to fix the condition with oils and lotions applied to the skin’s surface. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, your skin will benefit from receiving hydration from the inside in the form of water. Remember, your skin is your body’s biggest organ. It needs the right amount of water to be at its best, just as all of the other organs need the correct balance of water, vitamins, and nutrients to work.
- Dry Mouth – Having a dry mouth can be an indication of mild dehydration. For some people, medications they take will cause a dry mouth that is not related to dehydration, so it is not always a sign you do not drink enough water.
- Dry Eyes – If your body lacks sufficient water, you can end up with dry and bloodshot eyes. Not only is this uncomfortable, but a prolonged lack of moisture can also damage your tear ducts.
- Problems With Digestion – When you are not hydrated, your stomach cannot produce a sufficient amount of mucus to coat the inner lining and protect it from stomach acid. This often leads to heartburn and indigestion as the unchecked acid wreaks havoc with your stomach lining.
- Fatigue – Your body will slow down if you do not have enough hydration. This happens to try and conserve the water that is in your system
- Headaches – Even though headaches have many causes, if you notice frequent headaches along with other symptoms on this list, drinking more water can help to eliminate the pain.
- Weight Gain – Gaining weight or the inability to shed extra weight are sometimes related to a lack of water. When your body believes it does not have enough water, it will hold on to all of the water it can. This leads to weight gain. Additionally, quenching your thirst with water instead of beverages with empty calories like a soda can help take pounds off.
Dehydration is much more than feeling thirsty. It often leads to serious medical complications, if left untreated. Here are three signs of dehydration that do not include thirst.
- Dark Coloured Urine – Having urine that is dark frequently signals dehydration because the concentration of the urine is greater.
- Decreased Ability to Urinate – Waterworks with your kidneys to eliminate waste from your body. Insufficient water intake will reduce the amount of urine you produce. The unfiltered waste will build-up in your body.
- Cramping Muscles – Dehydration leads to a concentration and lower volume of blood. The reduction of blood in your body results in muscle cramps.
How Much Water Should I Drink Each Day?
While individual requirements vary based on factors like overall health, climate, level of exercise, and pregnancy, the general recommendation for daily water consumption is:
- Adult Men – 3.7 litres a day
- Adult Women – 2.7 litres a day
Can I Drink Too Much Water?
A person can consume too much water. This uncommon condition is hyponatremia and is typically related to abnormally low levels of sodium in your body.
By combining proper hydration with a diet rich in essential nutrients and enough activity, you can enjoy optimal health for many decades to come.