It’s summer and it’s time to think of water and staying hydrated. We can survive 3 to 4 minutes without oxygen, 3-4 days without water, and 3-4 weeks without food. Based on that we can conclude that oxygen is more important than water, yet 60% to 65% of the body is composed of water. One key way to achieve better health is to make sure you are well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Water needs to be replenished on a regular basis as we are constantly losing it. Water is lost from the skin through evaporation (we lose more water during the summer due to evaporation). We lose water when we exhale during breathing. And, water is lost through urine and stool.
The Roles of Water
Here is how better health is achieved with water.
- Bodily fluids.
- Weight control.
- Improved muscle function.
- Better energy.
- Younger looking skin.
- Toxin removal.
Water makes up a significant component of bodily fluids. These fluids include the blood, cerebrospinal fluid, saliva/digestive fluids and sweat. Blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the tissue. The cerebrospinal fluid protects the brain and spinal cord and helps nourish them. Saliva helps to breakdown foods. Other digestive fluids include bile and other digestive enzymes. Sweat is a key way that body temperature is regulated. Consuming enough fluid improves the function of these bodily fluids.
One to two glasses of water before a meal can help reduce the number of calories eaten during the meal facilitating weight loss. In addition, cold water revs up metabolism as the body expends energy to warm the cold fluid which can lead to the burning of additional calories.
For some the sense of hunger and the sense of thirst are indistinguishable. A good practice is drink fluid when then sense of hunger comes on and wait 15 minutes. If you still feel hungry you probably need to eat. But, if the sense of hunger went away after drinking fluids you were probably thirsty.
Improved Muscle Function
Muscle function is impaired when we are dehydrated. Without adequate water muscles are unable to generate the same forces and are more likely to be injured. Many think muscle is mainly protein. But, only 22% of muscle is protein. Over 60% of muscle is actually water.
Fatigue sets in when we become dehydrated – this includes body and mental fatigue. Drinking plenty of fluid will eliminate this type of fatigue and keep the brain mentally crisp leading to better health.
Younger looking skin
Water is essential for good skin health. It removes toxins from the skin. Skin is firmer and more youthful when well hydrated. Water fills in fine wrinkles and improves skin complexion.
We are bombarded by toxins all day long – in the air we breathe, the foods we eat, and the fluids we drink. The liver and kidneys remove toxins which are then eliminated from the body through the stool and urine. The color of urine can be used to gauge if you are getting enough fluids. When well hydrated urine should be light color and have no odor. Drinking plenty of fluid can also prevent constipation. By removing toxins drinking adequate amount of water leads to better health.
How Much Water is Needed for Better Health?
There are many different recommendations on how much water you should drink for better health. They are practical guidelines and not necessarily based on much science.
We recommend drinking in ounces half your body weight in pounds. So if you weigh 160 pounds you would drink 80 ounces of water/fluid a day. If you weigh 200 pounds you would drink 100 ounces of water/fluid a day. Water is found in fruits and vegetables and generally accounts for 20% of our daily intake of fluids. That’s another reason to eat those healthy foods.