Water, making up more than half of the human body composition, can safely be said to be the basis of life. Beyond being essential for our existence, however, water serves so many other purposes that help us maintain healthful bodies.
It is important to keep up our body water levels, because we are constantly using water in all our cells, organs, and tissues to regulate body temperature and maintain other bodily processes. We lose body water through breathing and sweating, and that’s why it’s important to rehydrate by drinking water and fluids and eating foods that contain water.
In addition to quenching our thirst in a way that no other drink can, here are a few benefits of drinking an adequate amount of water daily:
- Drinking water helps to keep our body fluids balanced. Water makes up about 60 percent of our body mass in fluids, which control digestion, absorption, circulation, excretion, transportation of nutrients, creation of saliva, and regulation of body temperature.
- Water can help control calorie intake. For years, dieters and fitness experts have been using water as a weight control strategy by simply substituting it for high-calorie drinks, and it works! Water also helps to naturally suppress appetite and boost fat metabolism.
- Water protects our tissues, organs, and joints. Do you remember what it feels like when your eyes, lips, nose, and mouth get dry? Very uncomfortable, isn’t it? Yes, water helps to retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas as well as in the blood, bones, and brain. Water also acts as a lubricant and cushion for our joints and helps to protect the spinal cord.
- Water maintains normal digestion and bowel function. Digestion depends on substances and enzymes (the basis of which is water) to help break down food and liquids and to dissolve other minerals and nutrients so that they are more accessible for body use. With adequate hydration, things move along smoothly down our bowels and prevent constipation. When you don’t drink enough water, the bowel draws fluid from stool to meet its water requirement resulting in constipation and passage of hard stools.
- Water is also necessary in the digestion of soluble fiber. Water helps fiber to dissolve easily, and this benefits bowel health by making well-formed, soft stools that are easy to pass.
- Water helps the body remove waste. Having adequate intake of water helps the body excrete waste through sweating, urination, defecation, and detoxification. The kidneys, liver, skin, and intestines are responsible for these functions. When you drink enough water, your urine flows well, is clear in color, and free from odor.
If you drink too little, though, you may be at risk of developing kidney stones.
How Much Water Do You Need?
The amount of water you need to consume depends on different factors, e.g. the climate you live in, how physically active you are, and whether you’re experiencing an illness or have any other health problems. Here are a few guidelines to consuming the water that you need:
- Drink between six to eight glasses of water per day.
- Don’t assume that any liquid you drink counts toward your eight glasses, since some sugary or caffeinated drinks can actually deplete your body of water.
- If you are not sure about your hydration level, look at your urine. If it’s clear, you are in good shape, but if it’s dark, you need to up your water intake and maybe see a doctor.
Here are some added bonuses of drinking enough water:
- It keeps your skin looking good and fresh. While drinking water won’t automatically erase lines and wrinkles, consuming an adequate intake of water will help reduce the stress of excretion of fluid and impurities through the skin. In turn, this keeps the skin healthy-looking and less stressed.
- It may also reduce your cancer risk. Research shows that staying hydrated can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent, bladder cancer by 50 percent, and possibly reduce breast cancer risk too.
- For the ladies, drinking more water can help to ease the fluid retention and bloating associated with premenstrual syndrome.
- Lastly, drinking water makes you rich! Making water your go-to drink saves a lot of money in the long run as you don’t spend as much as you would buying sodas, juices, and lattes etc.
Now, that you know all of this, what are you waiting for? Fill that glass with water today!
SEE ALSO: Eat Your Way to Happy, Healthy!
Ajibola Abdulkadir is a medical doctor currently practicing occupational medicine in Lagos, Nigeria. She has a keen interest in health education and women’s health. She’s an avid encourager of education in any form and is passionately driven to educate Africans on their healthcare needs.