Drinking plenty of water is more than a cliché—it has hidden advantages
You’ve probably heard many times that water is essential to keep all your body’s cells, organs, and tissues healthy. Think of it this way: Your need air to breathe, and you can’t live without water.
Why do we depend so much on water for proper functioning? The fact is, most of our body is made up of water. Water helps transport nutrients to our cells via our blood (blood plasma is 92% water). We need water to help keep our joints lubricated. Water help us digest food, regulates body temperature, and nourishes the brain and spinal cord.
Feel convinced? Okay—now for the lifestyle adaptations! Follow these guidelines and you’ll be on the way to a healthier, more hydrated you:
How we lose water
You probably realize you lose water when you sweat. You might not realize that you lose water even at rest, and even by breathing. Obviously, you lose water every time you urinate, and the lighter the color of your urine, the higher the water content. Aim to get—and stay—clear! As part of its everyday functioning, your body loses more than half a gallon of water each day. The question is: Are you replacing the water that’s lost? To do this, you need to drink water throughout the day, and not just when you feel thirsty. (By then you’re already dehydrated.)
How to replace lost fluids
The amount of water you lose depends a lot on your weight, sex, and environmental factors, so the rate of replenishment will also vary. Lots of advice boils down to men drinking between 10 and 15 glasses (cups) of water, and women between 8 and 11 glasses. But water isn’t the only way to replace lost fluids! You can keep yourself well-hydrated consuming other (low-calorie, decaffeinated) drinks and water-dense fruits and vegetables. Some fruits, such as melons (and even vegetables like broccoli), are often 90% water!
Signs of dehydration
Don’t wait to hydrate until you feel thirsty. Increased thirst is one of the first signs of trouble, hydration-wise—especially in summer. Other (even mild) symptoms to watch for include: dry mouth, feeling tired or lethargic, dry skin, dizziness, headaches, and confusion. On days when you’re exposed to heat, or sweaty activity, monitor your water intake and keep that water bottle handy.
Keeping a good eye on the amount you drink, your activity level, and factors in your environment are key to maintaining your optimal level of hydration. Water is essential to your overall well-being. Try making an effort to stay hydrated for a couple of days and see if you can tell the difference in how you feel! It’s a great—and inexpensive—way to give your health a boost.
This post is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health, located in Manchester, NH. Visit us online to learn more, or reach out to schedule a campus tour!