The human body is made of about 60% water. Water is the main substance in most body tissue including the brain, heart, lungs, muscle, skin and blood plasma. Necessary for human existence, you can only survive a few days without water.
If you don’t get enough water, you become dehydrated. Severe cases of dehydration can cause dizziness, confusion and even seizures.
Why the Body Needs Water
Every single body function needs water to operate properly. Many health conditions can be greatly improved by increasing your water intake, headaches and joint pain are two great examples.
Water is vital for these functions:
- To regulate your internal temperature
- Transporting nutrients throughout your body
- Helps to maintain the acid and alkaline balance
- Lubricates joints and muscles
- Forms saliva and helps with digestion
How Much Water to Drink
For a long time, the advice was to drink 8 glasses of water per day. Now we know that needs vary from person to person. The amount of water you need is based on factors like age, weight, activity level, general health, food intake, pollution, climate and kidney health.
A quick google search will yield many ways to calculate your ideal water intake. There are one size fits all recommendations like the 8 glasses rule and then there are complicated math equations using age, weight and a divider number that is unrelated to either of them.
Water intake is more than just plain water. Your body absorbs water from foods and other beverages. Many fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, tomatoes, strawberries and oranges have a high water content. Good options for hydration without added calories are fruit infused water, herbal tea and sparkling water.
The consumption of black tea, coffee and diuretics in the diet causes a loss of water from the body. It is recommended that for every cup of coffee or tea you drink in a day, the equivalent amount of plain water should be taken to rehydrate the body and replenish the store of water which is lost through the kidneys and processing.
There is no substitute for knowing your own body and the signs of dehydration. If you are thirsty, it is a signal that you need more water. Unfortunately, by the time you realize you are thirsty you may already be dehydrated. Another indicator of hydration is your urine. If your urine is light yellow or clear you are hydrated. If it is dark or has a strong odor, then you need more water.
Other signs of inadequate water intake are dryness, including dry mouth, chapped lips, dry skin and in extreme cases a lack of tear production. Headaches, cramping, muscle spasms and fatigue can all be indicators of dehydration.
There is no magic number of how much water you should drink each day. The advice I give my wellness coaching clients is to start with a target goal of 64 ounces and adjust as needed. (see the video below for a quick tip on measuring your water intake) Keeping a refillable water bottle with you all day can help reach that goal. Exercise and sweating can deplete your body’s available water. Drink 1-2 cups of water before your workout and sip more every 15 minutes while exercising.
Know Your Water
There are different types of water and they are sourced in different ways; these are available either naturally or bottled.
- Artesian Water – drawn from a well that taps a confined aquifer.
- Ground Water – obtained from a body of water that is not in contact with any surface water.
- Mineral Water – drawn from an underground source that also contains at least 250 ppm of dissolved solids.
- Purified Distilled Water or deionized water – has all the minerals, including the solids, removed.
- Sparkling Water – naturally carbonated.
- Spring Water – derived from an underground formation from which the water flows naturally to the surface of the earth.
- Tap Water – comes from your very own sink. Can be from a well or municipal water source. May contain chemicals, such as chlorine, used to treat the water.
Water is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and regular intake will help to maintain energy throughout the day and contribute to a feeling of wellbeing.