Hydration Station: 9 Reasons Why Water is Important to Human Health
August is here, and so is the heat of summer! While we are beginning to make plans with friends again and get out into the sun, it’s important to remember that water is essential to your health. Life University is at the forefront of health education, both on campus and online, and we want to make sure our community lives their healthiest lives!
Being attentive to the amount of water you drink each day is important for optimal health. Most people drink when they’re thirsty, which helps regulate daily water intake. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, general water intake (from all beverages and foods) that meet most people’s needs are:
- about 15.5 cups of water (125 ounces) each day for men.
- about 11.5 cups (91 ounces) daily for women.
People get about 20 percent of their daily water intake from food. The rest is dependent on drinking water and water-based beverages. So, ideally men would consume about 100 ounces (3.0 liters) of water from beverages, and women, about 73 ounces (2.12 liters) from beverages.
You’ll have to increase your water intake if you’re exercising or living in a hotter region to avoid dehydration.
Other ways to assess hydration include your thirst and the color of your urine. Feeling thirsty indicates your body is not receiving adequate hydration. Urine that is dark or colored indicates dehydration. Pale or non-colored urine typically indicates proper hydration.
The bottom line:
- It protects your tissues, spinal cord and joints.
Water consumption helps lubricate and cushion your joints, spinal cord and tissues. This will help you enjoy physical activity and lessen discomfort caused by conditions like arthritis.
- It helps maximize physical performance.
Drinking plenty of water during physical activity is essential. Athletes may perspire up to 6 to 10 percent of body weight during physical activity. Hydration also affects your strength, power and endurance. You may be more susceptible to the effects of dehydration if you’re participating in endurance training or high-intensity sports such as basketball. Negative effects of exercise in the heat without enough water can include serious medical conditions, like decreased blood pressure and hyperthermia. Extreme dehydration can cause seizures and even death.
- It aids in digestion.
Contrary to what some believe, experts confirm drinking water before, during and after a meal will help your body break down the food you eat more easily. This will help you digest food more effectively and get the most out of your meals.
- It helps create saliva.
Water is a main component of saliva. Saliva also includes small amounts of electrolytes, mucus and enzymes. It’s essential for breaking down solid food and keeping your mouth healthy. Your body generally produces enough saliva with regular fluid intake. However, your saliva production may decrease as a result of age or certain medications or therapies. If your mouth is drier than usual and increasing your water intake isn’t helping, see your doctor.
- It regulates your body temperature.
Staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining your body temperature. Your body loses water through sweat during physical activity and in hot environments. Your sweat keeps your body cool, but your body temperature will rise if you don’t replenish the water you lose. That’s because your body loses electrolytes and plasma when it’s dehydrated. If you’re sweating more than usual, make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- It helps with nutrient absorption.
In addition to helping with food breakdown, water also helps dissolve vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from your food. It then delivers these vitamin components to the rest of your body for use.
- It helps you lose weight.
- It aids in cognitive function.
Proper hydration is key to staying in tip-top cognitive shape. Research indicates that not drinking enough water can negatively impact your focus, alertness and short-term memory.
- It helps improve mood.
Not getting enough water can also affect your mood. Dehydration may result in fatigue and confusion, as well as anxiety.
Water is important to nearly every part of your body. Not only will hitting your daily recommended intake help you maintain your current state of being, but it may also even improve your overall health.
Here are some ideas for how you can be sure you drink enough:
- Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. This way you can drink whenever the need strikes.
- Keep track of your intake. Aim to take in optimum amounts every day, a minimum of half your body weight in ounces.
- Pace yourself to approach half of your recommended consumption by midday. You can always finish about an hour before you plan to sleep.
Interested in learning more about health and wellness?
Check out Life University’s on-campus and online Associate of Science in Health and Wellness.