The Importance of Hydration
One of the most important ways to nourish your body is by staying hydrated. Hydration is important because it helps regulate many of the body's functions. And the best way to stay hydrated is by drinking lots of water. The body is made up of 60% water, so it makes sense that drinking a lot of it plays an essential role in keeping the body in tip top condition.
Benefits of Staying Hydrated...with Water
One key role that water plays in the body is with waste removal. Water impacts waste removal by contributing to urination and defecation. It supports kidney and bowel function by providing the fluid needed to keep these systems in balance.
Water also plays an essential role in regulating body temperature through perspiration. The body cools itself by perspiring, or sweating. Sweat leaves the body through pores in the skin, then it evaporates off the surface of the skin which lowers the body's temperature. Sweat is made up of 99% water plus trace amounts of salt, protein, urea and ammonia. Drinking water helps replenish the body's fluids that are lost through sweating.
Other functions of the body that are impacted by hydration are
- Brain Function
Water supports the neurological function of the brain. It is involved in creating the hormones and neurotransmitters that help the brain stay connected with the rest of the body. Dehydration often results in foggy thinking, confusion and memory loss.
- Blood Flow
Blood is made up of over 90% water. Proper hydration supports efficient blood flow and the circulation of oxygen and other nutrients around the body. Dehydration causes blood to be thicker which contributes to hypertension, or high blood pressure.
- Joint Function
Cartilage, the connective tissue that forms the joints of the body, is made up of 70-80% water. Proper hydration helps to lubricate this connective tissue. Dehydration can contribute to joint pain and arthritis.
- Saliva Production
Saliva keeps the mouth hydrated and helps to break down food while chewing. It is made up mostly of water with trace amounts of enzymes and electrolytes. Dehydration can cause a feeling of dry mouth and promote bad breath.
- Workout Performance
Working out can result in a significant amount of water loss through perspiration. Staying well hydrated during a workout has been found to improve workout performance and post workout recovery.
- Weight Management
Hydration can even help with weight loss and weight maintenance. Drinking more water helps your feel fuller longer. Also, replacing high calorie drinks with water promotes weight loss and more efficient body function.
How Much to Drink Each Day
Drinking the right amount of water each day to support healthy body function is as important as eating the right foods and getting the right amount of exercise. As mentioned above, hydration impacts just about each body function in numerous health-promoting ways. It often recommended that adults drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day. This equates to a half gallon or 2 liters of water. However, hydration requirements depend on a variety of factors like outside temperature, exertion level, gender, body weight, etc. So, you should try to gauge how much water consumption is right for you. If you are thirsty, have a drink of water. If you are not thirsty, consider having a drink of water anyway. Any excess will leave the body via urination.
Ways to Drink More Water
Drinking enough water each day may feel like an insurmountable challenge. There are already so many must do's in a day that grabbing a glass of water may get lost in the shuffle. Here are a few ways to make consuming the right amount of water everyday less challenging--
1. Invest in a dedicated water bottle. Make sure it is always full and goes with you wherever you go. Sip from this bottle frequently throughout the day. Take it with you to the gym. Keep it next to you at your desk. Let your water bottle never be more than an arm's reach away.
2. Have a drink first thing in the morning. Keep a glass of water next to you on the bedside table. Drink it all just after you wake up every morning.
3. For every caffeinated cup, drink a cup of water. Because caffeine often acts as a diuretic, be sure to replenish any water losses due to caffeine intake by drinking a corresponding amount of water.
Staying hydrated throughout the day improves overall health and well-being. The body is made up of mostly water which regulates many of the body's functions. So, choosing water as a primary source of hydration is a practical, high efficiency way to maintain proper body function. Make hydration a priority and do so by drinking lots of water every day.