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THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRINKING WATER

by Ross Melzer

With the human body composed of approximately 60% water, it’s easy to see why water is so essential to life. A human can survive for a long time without food, but without water, dehydration sets in quickly and death soon follows. Even mild dehydration on an ongoing basis can lead to serious illnesses from accumulation of deadly toxins. 

Having insufficient amounts of water in the body prevents waste products from being flushed out of the cells, allowing them to build up until they reach toxic levels. High levels of toxins can lead to cancer, liver disease, arthritis, low energy and poor brain function. Mild dehydration alone can make you feel drained of energy, depressed and unmotivated. Dehydration can also lead to constipation, another potential source of cancer-causing toxins.

Water is essential for the proper function of all of the body’s systems and organs, including the brain. 

Lack of water can make you feel tired and sluggish, and even make it harder to think. 

Every chemical reaction in the body requires water. It is necessary for metabolizing food and for proper bowel function. 

lady drinking water from a bottle

Water helps boost the immune system as well as dissolve minerals and other vital nutrients and carries them to the cells so they can be used by the body. It also regulates body temperature and helps lessen the strain on the liver and kidneys by flushing toxic substances out of the vital organs, helping to prevent deadly diseases such as cancer.

Water is a key component of saliva, necessary for keeping the mouth moist and also for creating a moist environment for the eyes, ears nose and throat. Adequate moisture in the body keeps the joints lubricated, preventing stiffness and improving mobility, easing the pain of arthritis and possibly even preventing some types of arthritis from occurring in the first place.

Water also helps fight premature aging. Properly hydrated skin retains its elasticity, keeping it smooth and youthful looking, preventing wrinkles from appearing. Healthy skin is more able to repair damage caused by free radicals such as air pollution, cigarette smoke and sunshine.

man jogging holding bottle of water and piece of fruit Water can help you lose weight as well. The sensation of thirst is often mistaken for hunger, causing many people to eat when they should be having a drink of water instead. 

Some academics argue this may be one of the reasons for the world’s growing obesity epidemic. Increasing water intake along with a healthy low calorie diet will produce more favourable results in people who are trying to lose weight. Dietary experts recommend drinking a glass of water in place of a snack to help curb hunger pangs and reduce food cravings.

Getting enough water to drink isn’t very difficult. Most fruits and vegetables contain substantial amounts of water, and every fluid that you drink, including coffee, tea and alcohol are sources of water. Outside of the home, most offices and factories have water coolers to give employees a readily available water source.

How much water should you drink?

This leads to the important question of water intake. 

  • How much water should you drink?
  • Is there an optimum level? 
  • Can you drink too much water?

We often hear that people need to drink eight 8 oz glasses of water every day to be healthy, but opinions differ about the accuracy of this rule. Because every person is different, everybody’s water needs are also different.

Your lifestyle and location greatly influence the amount of water that needs to be consumed on a daily basis. Active people and those who live in hot locations naturally require more water than people in cooler locations who lead a more sedate lifestyle.

Water consumption also relates to weight loss. Weight loss experts say that because hunger and thirst give off similar signals, people often eat when what they really need is a drink of water. People who are trying to lose weight are urged to drink more water, and to drink water when they feel hungry instead of reaching for a snack.

The human body loses approximately 2.5 litres (10.5 cups) of water per day through respiration, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. Therefore, this is approximately the amount of water that needs to be replaced. Someone who eats a healthy diet that includes moisture-rich fruits and vegetables may only need to consume about 2 litres of water to replace lost fluids. 2 litres is approximately 67 oz, which makes the 8x8 rule (64 oz) reasonably accurate.

jug of water It’s important to note that drinking glasses of water isn’t the only way to obtain water. 

The necessary 2 litres of water can include all of the fluids that are consumed in a day, including coffee, tea, soft drinks and even alcoholic drinks. So, sipping several cups of tea or coffee throughout the workday is still beneficial. Such drinks should not be used to entirely replace water in the diet, but as a supplemental source of fluid to go alongside the water that you drink. 

Also, keep in mind that water is calorie-free and other drinks may contain high levels of sugar or artificial flavours, colours and other substances that can be unhealthy. Even diet drinks are unhealthy because they too contain these substances, and many of them contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener that has been linked to health problems.

The 8x8 rule

However, if you are concerned that you are not drinking enough water, or if you are trying to lose weight, adhering to the old 8x8 rule can’t hurt. 

A good way to do this is to carry a water bottle everywhere you go and sip it throughout the day. 

Keeping a bottle in your car, office or gym locker makes water readily available whenever you need it. 

Avoid drinking fountains that are not regularly cleaned, because we now know that they attract bacteria and germs.

water bottle

Most companies now provide water coolers for employees because employers are aware that well hydrated staff are often more productive.

Can you drink too much water?

Is there truth to the fear of some people that you could die if you drink too much water? Although there is no simple answer to this question, it is unlikely that drinking too much water could really kill you. However, there is a certain condition known as water intoxication, which occurs when a person does drink too much water and his body does not have the proper sodium level that can work to balance his or her water intake. Medically termed as hyponatremia, this condition is associated more with the ratio between salt and water in the body than with a person’s water intake.

glass of water Without getting into the technicalities of what happens to the body’s cells when hyponatremia occurs, it’s helpful to be aware of the general concept. 

If you are the kind of person who is conscious about eating a balanced and healthy diet, then you are almost certainly at no risk of developing hyponatremia. This is because a balanced diet should only contain a moderate level of sodium that will not put you at risk for contracting the condition.

If you are also the kind of person who loves eating salty foods, then you could be at risk of contracting hyponatremia.

Consult Your Doctor

It is best to consult your doctor if you are concerned about the balance of sodium and water levels in your body, especially if you think you drink too much water. Your doctor will conduct some tests that will help ascertain the status of your water and sodium intake. If your doctor notes an imbalance that could possibly veer towards hyponatremia, you will be given instructions regarding adjustments you need to make with your lifestyle and your diet. This is so that any sodium intake deficiency can be compensated.

If you are still worried about whether you are drinking too much or too little water, you should ask your doctor how much water you as an individual should drink every day. Your doctor will calculate this, based predominantly on your weight.

 

TotallyDrinkable.com is an information site designed to help consumers better understand the role of water in their lives. From understanding the differences between bottled water and tap water, some of the health benefits of mineral water, why and how to filter water to offering suggestions as to how to improve your household water with water filter reviews. 

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