Water, the precious resource that gives both life and sustains all living organisms, has sometimes been taken for granted. The compound is a paramount ingredient for our survival. In fact, you can go longer without food, but the same rules do not apply when it comes to water. With over 60 percent of our body made of water, our cells and organs depend on water to keep them functioning at optimum levels. So how does water exactly affect our body?
Importance of H2O in the Body
Whether you are working out or even just typing away in an enclosed, frigid office, our bodies are designed to maintain a healthy core temperature by perspiring — most of which goes unnoticed. Besides keeping our core temperature stable, water is also responsible for hydrating our cells, and protecting our tissues, joints and spinal cord.
To Keep the Body Functioning
Keeping our internal organs hydrated at an optimum level is necessary for keeping our blood, bones and our brain working at their peak. Apart from keeping these parts of our body functioning, water works like a lubricant and cushions our joints. Additionally, water is also responsible for protecting the spinal cord and acting as a shock absorber.
Water is also crucial for removing waste in the body. Perspiration and other waste products of the body are eliminated through the help of water. For instance, our intestines, kidneys and liver need water to flush out waste. Water also keeps stools soft by making soluble fibre easier to digest. Although there is no conclusive evidence of water curing constipation, fluid intake helps your intestines move things along.
Our digestion also heavily relies on our intake of water. Enzymes in our saliva aid in breaking down food and liquid. Additionally, breaking down minerals and other nutrients makes it easier for your body to absorb them into the bloodstream.
One other function of water is that it prevents dehydration. We lose a substantial amount of water, even when we are sedentary, so it is not surprising that we need to increase our fluid intake when we engage in vigorous activities or contract a fever or illness like diarrhoea that causes you to lose large amounts of fluids. You will also need to drink more water if you are a nursing mother, as you will need a higher fluid intake to replace the ones you have lost through regular feeding.
If you are looking to trim down, water is your best bet. Your water intake directly impacts your metabolism temporarily and keeps a leash on your appetite, decreasing the chances of your binging on several foods. Want faster results? Drinking cold water is said to be another effective way to lose weight. Your body utilises calories to increase the temperature of your body, but note that this is a double-edged sword. When you are drinking cold water, you might feel like eating more, since you do not feel full anymore. The best practice is to drink warm or hot water to feel fuller faster, best done at least half an hour before a meal, so you end up eating less and feeling less hungry. Of course, the best way to ensure that your weight loss journey is on the fast track would be to combine these tactics with a well-balanced diet.
Besides being a necessary compound that is responsible for the body’s smooth operation, water is also said to have some beneficial effects on keeping skin clear. If you’re suffering from acne or dry skin, this might be the time to increase your water intake.
How Much Water Do You Need?
Most of the water we consume is usually lost through perspiration, breathing and digestion. It is also important to note that how much water you lose in a day depends on several factors that include climate, lifestyle, predisposed health conditions, etc. The usual intake is about eight 8-ounce glasses of water or two litres, but this can be highly subjective as we discussed earlier, so in that sense, the best way to determine if your body is receiving the proper hydration is to check the colour of your urine. If it is clear, that means that your body is well hydrated. Dark-coloured urine is indicative of dehydration.
Do note that drinking water is only one of the ways you can increase your water intake. There are also several food sources that are loaded with water or come with a high water content. These include a number of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and eggs. These, along with beverages like coffee, tea or just plain water, can easily help you to meet your fluid requirements. Do note however, that coffee and tea are diuretics, and it has been said that with every glass of coffee or tea you drink, you should increase your water intake by an additional glass.
Rule of Thumb
Our bodies have the ability to tell us if we need more water — yes, thirst is an indicator that prevents us from getting dehydrated — even though some sources explain that feeling thirsty is a sign that you are already dehydrated. Thirst is associated with the same instinctive mechanisms that are responsible for our breathing — it is the body’s way of expressing dehydration. Even if you forget to regularly replenish your body with the required amount of fluids, a simple rule of thumb is to follow your body’s signals, and before you know it, you will be reaching for a glass of water to quench your thirst.