The Importance of Water and Hydration
Growing up with Asian parents, you’ve probably heard and taken heed of their advice on drinking water and its benefits for the body. Why is water beneficial for the body you ask? Seeing as 70% of the body consists of water, it supplements various bodily functions including flushing out waste from the body, regulating body temperature and aiding brain function. While the majority of your water intake comes from drinking beverages, food can also contribute a small percentage to your daily water intake. We have rounded up ways in which H2O can improve your overall well-being.
1. Creates saliva
Interestingly enough, water, a main component of saliva (besides electrolytes, mucus and enzymes) promotes saliva production. What the saliva does is break down solid food in anticipation of digestion by the stomach. Your body generally produces enough saliva with regular fluid intake. However, with age or a consequence of certain medications and therapies, the saliva may decrease. If drinking water doesn’t help your dry mouth condition, it’s best to consult your doctor.
2. Adjusts your body temperature
Keeping your body’s hydration optimal is crucial to maintaining your body temperature. During scorching weather (like ones we often experience) or any physical activities, your body loses water through sweat. Sweat will keep your body cool, but replenishing that water loss will lead to the rise of body temperature. This happens because your body loses electrolytes and plasma when it’s dehydrated. On days when you sweat more than you usually do, be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
3. Protects joints, spinal cord and tissues
Drinking water can also assist in lubricating and cushioning your joints, spinal cord and tissues. This lessens any discomfort or pain caused by conditions like arthritis and ensures that you would be able to help you enjoy physical activities you love like hiking on the weekends or even walking and jogging.
4. Helps excrete waste
Everyday, without knowing, your body uses water to aid functions like sweating, urinating and excreting bowel movements. In warm climates or during workouts, the body perspires to regulate body temperature. It’s important to rehydrate after sweating. Adequate water intake in the system enables healthy stool and avoids constipation. Your kidneys are the body’s filtration system that dispels waste through urination. So, drinking enough water helps your kidneys work more efficiently and helps to prevent kidney stones.
5. Maximises physical performance
Drinking the right amount of water before, during and after exercises is important for strength, power and endurance, especially for professional athletes who may sweat up to six to ten percent of body weight during physical activity. If you frequently undertake endurance training or high-intensity sports such as basketball and football, you could be more prone to the effects of dehydration. While it’s great to exercise outdoors for some vitamin D and fresh air, too much heat can ensue serious medical conditions, like decreased blood pressure and hyperthermia. In serious cases, extreme dehydration can cause seizures and even death.
6. Prevent constipation
Eating fibre is not the only way to keep constipation at bay. Consuming enough water alongside magnesium and fibre ensures healthy bowel movement and prevents constipation. If you’re already constipated, try drinking carbonated water and plain water to ease any discomfort and symptoms.
7. Aids the digestive system
Contrary to the notion that drinking water after a meal dilutes the nutrients essential to the body, experts have ascertained that drinking water before, during and after a meal supplements the body in breaking down food consumed more easily. This, in turn, helps the digestive system more effectively. Research indicates that our body adapts easily to environments and things, including the changes in the consistency of food and stomach contents, whether more solid or more liquid.
8. Boosts nutrient absorption
Besides breaking down food, water also helps dissolve vitamins, minerals and other nutrients conveyed by the food you eat. These are then delivered to the rest of the body for its use.
9. Aids in weight loss
Why does water aid in losing weight? It helps suppress appetite and burn more calories, which was evident in research that studied the link between body fat and weight loss with drinking water in both overweight girls and women. Drinking more water while dieting and exercising may just help you lose extra kilograms.
10. Improves blood oxygen circulation
Evident in its chemical makeup, H2O, hydrating the body carries oxygen and helpful nutrients to your entire body. This means that hitting your daily water intake improves blood circulation and positively impacts overall health.
11. Fends off diseases and illness
The old adage that drinking sufficient amounts of water prevents some medical conditions rings true, especially in regards to constipation, kidney stones, exercise-induced asthma, urinary tract infection and hypertension. Water also acts as the transport for vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from your food, which will increase your chances of staying healthy.
12. Conveys energy
Drinking more water gives you more energy to do anything from strenuous physical feats to staying awake at your desk after lunch. It can also activate your metabolism. This is translated in a study which revealed that drinking 500 millilitres of water boosted the metabolic rate by 30 percent in both men and women. And the elevated metabolism lasted over an hour.
13. Aids in cognitive function
Drinking an average of 3 litres of water a day is the key to elite cognitive performance. Studies reveal that insufficient hydration negatively impacts your focus, alertness and short-term memory.
14. Helps improve mood
Feeling a little blue? Try chugging down some water and notice that it’ll positively impact your mood. Dehydration may result in fatigue and confusion as well as anxiety.
15. Keeps skin supple
Ask any Hollywood celebrity their secret to beautiful skin and they’ll tell you it’s water. Sufficient water consumption keeps your skin and the rest of your body hydrated, and prompt collagen production. That said, it can't completely hinder the natural process of ageing so be sure to apply your sunscreen diligently.
16. Prevents dehydration
Dehydration is exactly what the word implies — It’s a result of the body not receiving enough water. As mentioned above, because water aids in various bodily functions, severe dehydration can trigger various complications, including swelling in your brain, kidney failure and seizures. We can’t stress enough how vital it is to drink enough water to replace the water lost through sweat, urination and bowel movements to avoid dehydration.
How much H20 should you drink?
When you’re swept away by the amount of workload on your plate, it’s easy to neglect drinking water, especially in a cold office space. Most people drink when their mouth feels dry or thirsty. However, it’s important to consciously drink water to hydrate the body. The general daily fluid intake to meet most people’s needs are about 15.5 cups of water (3.5 litre) each day for men and about 11.5 cups (2.5 litre) daily for women. This, however, could be slightly more or less, depending on your physical activities and region in the world. An alternative method to determine hydration levels is through the colour of your urine. Urine that is dark or coloured indicates dehydration. Pale or non-coloured urine typically means proper hydration.