We all know we need to drink water to function at our best but do most of us really know why? According to several recent studies, as many as two thirds of Americans do not drink enough water on a daily basis.
In the past the guideline of 8 glasses a day became the standard. But is this really the right amount? Let’s look at why water is so important to our daily function and think about how much we really need each day.
What Happens When We Lack Sufficient Water?
Have you ever spent a day in the sun and didn’t drink quite enough water? Maybe you felt lightheaded or dizzy. You might have been irritable and not able to think clearly. This is because you were probably in a mild state of dehydration. Once the body enters the next state of dehydration you would have begun to feel nauseous and have a nasty headache. Our bodies simply cannot function without sufficient water supplies. We need water for digestion, perspiration, blood flow and many other internal processes. When we don’t have enough water our bodies send us signals that we are running low.
Why Do We Need Water?
Our bodies are made of somewhere between 50 and 70 percent water. It underlies almost every single system in the body. Here are just a few of the important reasons we need adequate supplies of water.
We Need Water to Stay Active
Or muscles are made up of more than 70 percent water. The minute our bodies begin to experience even the slightest level of dehydration, our muscles will lose some degree of function. This is why it is very common to experience muscle cramps when you are active in high temperatures. Drinking plenty of water allows our muscles to function at their best.
We Need Water to Aid in Digestion
Without enough water we would quickly become constipated, as hydration is a big part of digestion. When fibrous food sits in our digestive tract they soak up moisture as part of the normal process. The more fiber-rich food we eat, the more water we need. Not enough water in our stomach can lead to problems with digestion and in the bathroom.
We Need Water to Get Rid of Toxins
Our kidneys use water to flush toxins and contaminants from our system. Without enough water, higher levels of toxins may be absorbed into our bloodstream. By drinking enough water and water-based beverages we can help flush the toxins out of our bodies.
We Need Water to Fight Illness
When you come down with a cold or other bug, water is your little known best friend. A well-hydrated nasal passage will help you breath easier and keep a cough at bay. If you become dehydrated it will lead to even more discomfort. You also need water to perspire, which is the body’s way of battling a fever. When you start to feel a little under the weather your best first course of action is to up your water intake.
We Need Water to Think
Another part of our bodies that is made from mostly water is our brain. When we become dehydrated it is not uncommon to feel sluggish and struggle with thought processes. In order for our brains to perform at their peak, water is a must.
We Need Water to Maintain Our Optimal Weight
Whether you are actively trying to lose weight or simply want to maintain your current weight, water is a must in your repertoire. Drinking enough water helps us avoid over-eating and eating out of boredom. When you feel inclined to snack, try a nice cold glass of lemon water first.
We Need Water to Battle Fatigue
Because so many of our bodily systems rely on water, we need water to stay alert. Studies suggest that chronically mild levels of dehydration may be a major contributor to daytime fatigue. By drinking plentiful amounts of water you can help battle the 3 o’clock slump.
Do Drinks Like Tea and Coffee Count?
Many of us live on caffeinated and sugary beverages, but do they count as part of our daily water tally? There has been ongoing controversy whether coffee and tea count as sources of water. Some studies indicated that the caffeine levels may increase our water needs and others showed the opposite. Most health care providers agree that energy drinks, coffee, tea and juices provide some water in our diets, however they should not be your primary source.
How Much Water Do We Really Need?
So just how much is enough? Your specific water intake needs will vary depending upon how hot the weather is, how much physical activity you engage in and how old you are. The Mayo clinic suggests that men who are moderately active should drink around 13 cups (3 liters) of water each day and women who are similarly active should drink 9 cups (2.2 liters). On days when you are particularly active or the temperature spikes, increase you water consumption.
By drinking a plentiful amount of water, you can ensure that your body’s systems are working at their best. Drinking enough water is one of the easiest things you can do to stay healthy, be active and support the needs of your body. Make sure you drink enough water each day to stay at the top of your game.