Water. The planet Earth is mostly water just as the human body is up to 60% water. Everything on earth requires water for survival in varying degrees. Life is so dependent on water that NASA scientist look for it in outer space when searching for extra-terrestrial life!
Coming back to Earth for a moment, more specifically human life—we lose four to nine cups of water every day through the natural biological processes of breathing, urinating, sweating, etc. Molly Sargen writes for the University of Harvard stating, “A loss of just 4% of total body water leads to dehydration, and a loss of 15% can be fatal. Likewise, a person could survive a month without food but wouldn’t survive 3 days without water.”
If water is so incredibly vital to the human body, why isn’t it the first thought on our minds as soon as we wake up? Why don’t we actively track how much water we consume just as carefully as we track our bank accounts, or gas tanks, or social media updates? Perhaps it’s because we often feel hydrated from other sources that contain water but are not entirely composed of water—like coffee, tea, soda, soup, yogurt, fruit, and alcohol. Of course these sources of water are not inherently bad, but they don’t provide as much hydration as pure water. A US National Library of Medicine study published in 2010 cites information found eight years earlier which showed that the “total fluid intake increased from 79 fluid ounces in 1989 to 100 fluid ounces in 2002 among US adults, all from caloric beverages.” Due to this increase in impure water sources, the signs of dehydration aren’t always as simple as thirst. In fact, often one doesn’t usually feel thirsty until they are already dehydrated! Instead the human body exhibits other signs such as less frequent urination, dark-coloured urine, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, and/or irritability.
If you’re thinking to yourself that these statistics don’t apply to you, consider these six benefits to drinking water and maybe pour yourself one extra glass today:
One of the top reasons to drink water is that it aids in the production of saliva. Have you ever noticed that when you’re thirsty your mouth and throat feels dry? Drinking water increases both saliva and mucus production. That might sound gross, but this is vital for proper digestion and keeping the mouth clean.
- Cognitive Function
Betsy Mills, PhD published findings with Cognitive Vitality showing the negative effects of dehydration on brain function: “The brains of dehydrated adults show signs of increased neuronal activation when performing cognitively engaging tasks, indicating that their brains are working harder than normal to complete the task.” In the same article she recommends drinking up to 8-15 cups of water a day, depending on gender and activity level, in order to keep the brain properly lubricated and in its best cognitive condition.
So many skin serums promise to hydrate dry, tired, dull skin. Why is that? Because they know that the prerequisite to glowing skin is ample amounts of water. UWHealth acknowledges that “skin is an organ, and just like any other part of the body. your skin is made up of cells. And skin cells, like any other cell in the body, are made up of water. Without water, the organs will certainly not function properly or at their best.” Some serums are good for hydration from the outside. The same article suggests using Hyaluronic acid, stating “Hyaluronic acid holds 1,000 times its own weight in water, thus attracting water to the skin and holding it there.” However, be sure to pair that external hydration with internal hydration for truly healthy skin.
Though we don’t like to discuss it, the body needs to eliminate waste. Our intestinal track is dependent on proper hydration to help it work properly. Through the process of sweating, urinating, and defecating the body releases what is harmful or unnecessary to it, making room for what it needs. Water helps to keep this process running smoothly for the overall health of the body.
The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published findings in 2014 based off of a Virginia Tech study that showed there were “significant improvement in weight-loss maintenance in the pre-meal water group, indicating self-monitoring of increased water consumption may provide additional weight loss maintenance benefits.” There is a lot more research to be done on the connection between water consumption and weight loss, but the scientists who conducted this research certainly found encouraging evidence.
- Joint Health
You don’t need to be the athletic type to benefit from healthy joints. The Orthopedic Associates connects joint paid to possible dehydration: “It’s estimated that 70 – 80% of your joint cartilage consists of water. Synovial fluid is the thick lubrication located between the joints, giving you a cushion so the bones don’t come in contact. This fluid is located in the joints throughout your body: hips, knees, feet, shoulders, and hands. If you are hydrated, then the gel-like liquid provides nutrition, shock-absorption, lubrication, and cushioning in the joints. The framework is like a sponge, with the water filling the space to cushion the joint. This process helps to reduce friction in the cartilage and gives you a smooth, sustained motion in the joints. When the fluid is not sufficient, then there is less lubrication in the joints, which leads to the development of joint pain.”
This is a lot of information to swallow, but ultimately it all boils down to one fact: drink more water!