I’m sure everyone knows what water is but let’s take a deeper look with its definition via Wikipedia….
“Water is a transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth’s streams, lakes, and oceans, and the fluids of most living organisms. It is vital for all known forms of life, even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients. Water is the name of the liquid state of H2O at standard ambient temperature and pressure. It forms precipitation in the form of rain and aerosols in the form of fog. Clouds are formed from suspended droplets of water and ice, its solid state. When finely divided, crystalline ice may precipitate in the form of snow. The gaseous state of water is steam or water vapor. Water moves continually through the water cycle of evaporation, transpiration (evapotranspiration), condensation, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea.”
In this article, I am going to touch on the importance of and various health benefits from water – it’s many uses – safety pre-cautions – as well as tips on how to consume more water daily.
WHAT IS BODY WATER CONTENT/PERCENTAGE?
“In physiology, body water is the water content of an animal body that is contained in the tissues, the blood, the bones and elsewhere. The percentages of body water contained in various fluid compartments add up to total body water (TBW). This water makes up a significant fraction of the human body, both by weight and by volume. Ensuring the right amount of body water is part of fluid balance, an aspect of homeostasis.” – Wikipedia
There can be considerable variation in body water percentage based on a number of factors like age, health, water intake, weight, and sex. By weight, the average human adult male is approximately 60% water and the average adult female is approximately 55%. Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to re-hydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water regularly.
MAJOR KNOWN HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRINKING WATER
1. Boosts energy. Water delivers important nutrients to all of our cells, especially muscle cells, postponing muscle fatigue.
2. Assists in weight loss. Water helps you feel fuller longer, without adding any additional calories.
3. Aids in digestion. Water aids in constipation and other abdominal issues, especially those suffering from IBS. Water helps to move the digestive process along and through the system.
4. Detoxifies. Water helps to move toxins through your system faster, and optimizes kidney function. Inadequate hydration means inadequate kidney function. Water also helps you absorb important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from your food, which will increase your chances of staying healthy.
5. Hydrates skin. Water is the best defense against aging and wrinkles in the skin by promoting collagen production.
6. Creates saliva. Water is a main component of saliva. Saliva also includes small amounts of electrolytes, mucus, and enzymes. It’s essential for breaking down solid food and keeping your mouth healthy.
7. Protects your tissues, spinal cord, and joints. Water consumption helps lubricate and cushion your joints, spinal cord, and tissues. This will help you enjoy physical activity and lessen discomfort caused by conditions like arthritis.
8. Helps maximize physical performance. It improves strength, power and endurance by providing your muscles and tissues with needed nutrients. Drinking plenty of water during physical activity is also essential. Athletes may perspire up to 6 to 10 percent of body weight during physical activity.
9. Helps fight off illness. Drinking enough water can help prevent certain medical conditions including constipation, kidney stones, exercise-induced asthma, urinary tract infection, and hypertension.
10. Helps improve mood. Dehydration may result in fatigue and confusion as well as anxiety.
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
Your body will give you all sorts of signs when it is becoming dehydrated. It can be dangerous not getting enough water and even fatal, only taking as little as 3-10 days to die from dehydration depending on certain factors. Unfortunately, you can get used to not drinking much water and the signal for thirst will dull, so it is important to know what other signs to look out for to determine if you may not be drinking enough water.
Signs of mild or moderate dehydration include:
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Not peeing very much
- Dark yellow pee
- Dry, cool skin
- Muscle Cramps
Signs of severe dehydration include all of the above in addition to:
- Feeling dizzy
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Sunken eyes
- Sleepiness, lack of energy, confusion or irritability
HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD I DRINK?
The guideline recommended amount is 8 glasses per day, though this varies from person to person. Those who exercise regularly, work outside, or have chronic medical conditions should consume more water to compensate for more water loss. Some medications can also cause you to become dehydrated and require more water consumption.
HOW TO DRINK MORE WATER
If you are like most people, you know that water is good for you but you just can’t seem to be able to drink enough. Here are some tips to help you drink more H2O!
- Carry a water bottle wherever you go – this ensures you have access to water at all times
- Use mint, tea, lemon or fruit infusions to help make water more tasty to help entice you to drink more
- Eat more water content rich foods such as fruits and vegetables
- When you get a food craving – drink a glass of water first and wait 5-10 minutes. If you are no longer hungry – it’s because you were actually thirsty!
- Set a side specific times of the day to drink a large amount of water and form a habit of it. For example, it has become routine for me to drink 32 oz of water within 30 minutes of waking up. I also always get 16 oz of water at lunch time in my smoothie. I still try to drink through out the day, especially after exertion but at least I know I am getting a good amount of water if I forget or get too busy at work.
- Drink only water with meals – another tactic to ensure you are drinking more water in your day
WHERE SHOULD I DERIVE MY WATER SOURCE FROM?
There are so many sources of water available to us – not all are fit for consumption. Ocean water is deadly when consumed. Pool water full of chemicals is also not a wise choice. Lakes and ponds are stagnant water sources you want to avoid as bacteria tends to bloom and parasites tend to loom there. Aim for fresh mountain water springs and the highest point of the water source.
Most of us do not have access to such fresh water, at least easily; But there is tap and bottled water you can buy. If you use tap water – remember to use a filtration system to filter out added hazardous contaminants, such as disinfection byproducts (DBPs), fluoride, and drugs to name a few found in public water systems. Well water is safer but can also have an over abundance of heavy metals. When considering water buying options, here are some water definitions to keep in mind:
- Purified water: Water that is physically processed to remove impurities (e.g., distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, carbon filtration, etc.). This is the best water next to natural mountain spring waters.
- Distilled water: Water that is boiled and evaporated away from its dissolved minerals, and then the vapor is condensed. This type of water is best for sterility purposes and not the best for drinking because it doesn’t contain any nutrients.
- Bottled Water. This water is typically from a spring or has gone through reverse osmosis before it is bottled. However, some brands are simply bottled tap water that may or may not have gone through any additional filtering. Also, plastic bottles have been known to seep chemicals, especially with exposure to heat/sun light. I recommend using stain less steel or glass water bottles.
- Alkaline water: Water that has been separated into alkaline and acid fractions using electrolysis, which takes advantage of the naturally occurring electric charges found in the magnesium and calcium ions; in the drinking water industry. This type of water has gained a huge following in recent years with claims of being able to cure illnesses. There is no scientific research that supports these claims.
- Deionized or demineralized water: Water in which the mineral ions (salts such as sodium, calcium, iron, copper, chloride and bromide) have been removed by exposing it to electrically charged resins that attract and bind to the salts.
- Hard and soft water: Hard water is any water containing an appreciable quantity of dissolved minerals; soft water is treated water in which the only cation (positively charged ion) is sodium.
Like anything – it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Although uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water. Over-hydration can lead to water intoxication. When your kidneys can’t excrete the excess water, the sodium content of your blood is diluted (hyponatremia) — which can be life-threatening.
If your electrolytes drop too low too quickly, it can be fatal. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who eat an average American diet.
WATER FOR REHABILITATION & FITNESS
Aside from reaping all of the benefits from the consumption of water – it is actually very beneficial to be used in conjunction with physical fitness and physical therapy such as:
- Swimming – a great form of exercise that puts minimal pressure on the joints. Perfect for anyone suffering from arthritis or pain conditions that limit their physical abilities. Some gyms and some communities have pools for use but may require a membership. A free way to swim is going to a public Lake or swimming hole.
- Water therapy – a form of physical rehabilitation focused on walking on a treadmill partly under water or doing physical exercises partly under water. Again, the major benefit to this is the minimal pressure on your joints. You will need to seek a physical rehabilitation center to use one of these.
- Hot tubs – help with minor aches and pains, soothing sore joints and muscles. The buoyancy of the water removes pressure from joints. The jets provide therapeutic massage benefits. Most Spa’s have these available for use.
- Steam saunas – Improves circulation. Sitting in a steam room might significantly improve your cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, reduces stress, clear congestion, promote skin health, aid in workout recovery, loosen stiff joints and burn calories. Most Spa’s and even some gyms have these available for use.
- Cold therapy – used to reduce pain, swelling and nerve activity using ice, cold packs, and ice baths.
THE TAKE AWAY
Water is a life source! It plays an extremely vital role in your health. Drinking enough water can provide so many health benefits. If you haven’t already, I urge you to drink more water starting now! If you want a major kick start in getting the habit under your belt and like a good challenge – try the 30 day water challenge! Follow the link to learn more and good luck!