From what we drink to where we swim, water is all around us. We are mostly water: it makes up 2/3 of our bodies. It is essential to our health and plays a vital role in how our body processes.
- Blood is 93% water.
- Lungs are 83% water.
- Muscles are 79% water.
- Kidneys are 79% water.
- The brain is 73% water.
- The heart is 73% water.
- Skin is 64% water.
- Bones are 31% water.
Health Benefits of Water
Aside from quenching your thirst, drinking the right amount of water will benefit your health in numerous ways. It is the only drink that has no calories, no fat, no carbs and no sugar. Basic functions include regulating body temperature, flushing out toxins (this is particularly important when taking nutritional supplements that gently cleanse the gut), and moving nutrients through our cells. Water is a wonder “drug” from nature that:
- Boosts brain productivity.
- Promotes weight loss.
- Improves circulation.
- Aids in digestion.
- Facilitates kidney function.
- Prevents fatigue.
- Reduces muscle strains and cramping.
- Moisturizes skin and clears skin of toxins.
- Reduces appetite.
The average American gets 20% of their required daily water intake from foods like fruits and vegetables → this means that we are responsible for drinking enough water to cover the remaining 80% our body craves. Although water is the most popular beverage in the United States, soda is a very close second. Average annual consumption of water is 58 gallons, where soda is a shocking 44 gallons! Considering all we know about the nutritional woes of soda, I find that to be a somewhat surprising statistic.
While it is fantastic that water is the most popular beverage in America, that statistic comes with a caveat. Many Americans are getting their fill of water due to the multitude of flavored waters available in stores. 1 in 5 households that buy bottled water will purchase water that is enhanced with different flavors. These enhancers often contain additives like salts, dyes, and chemical preservatives. So, what’s a better option? Going natural! If you don’t like the taste, try adding natural flavors like frozen fruit, mint ice cubes, unsweetened fruit juice or sliced cucumbers.
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Are you dehydrated? Here’s what dehydration does to your body:
Dry skin and lips
The skin is the body’s biggest organ. It requires a significant amount of water to stay in good condition. With lack of hydration you will have chapped lips and dry skin that has lost its elasticity.
Sweet and salty food cravings
When your body is “dried out,” it often misleads you with unrelenting food cravings, mistaking your thirst for hunger.
With the absence of water, your body creates less saliva. Saliva contains antibacterial properties and combats the bacteria in your mouth responsible for bad breath.
Poor gut health
Drinking an adequate amount of water aids your body in “flushing” out unwanted gut inhabitants. Water helps to balance out your microbiome, keeping your bad bacterial and yeast colonization in check.
Lack of hydration causes difficulty focusing. It also makes you more prone to forgetting things and developing trouble with communication.
Feeling lightheaded and having headaches are a sign your body needs water. Less water in your body results in strained circulation, with less water and oxygen being delivered to your brain.
When the body has less water, it results in altered emotions, making you cranky and more irritable than normal.
Nobody likes to talk about constipation, but this can be a really serious symptom associated with dehydration. When you don’t have enough water in your body, your stool becomes harder. This makes it more difficult for you to have bowel movements, resulting in bloating, abdominal pain, and even acid reflux.
Dehydration often causes feelings of lethargy and exhaustion. The absence of water causes a strain in your circulatory system, resulting in decreased oxygen delivery to your entire body. Insufficient oxygen supply causes that lethargic and “lazy” feeling.
For a quick and easy way to tell if you’re dehydrated, try the pinch test. Lightly pinch some skin on the back of your hand and pull up approximately one centimeter before letting go. If you are not dehydrated, your skin will spring back into its regular positon almost immediately. If you are dehydrated, your skin takes a few seconds to settle back down.
One rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces each and every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, your body needs a minimum of 75 ounces of water to meet its hydration demands. That may seem like a daunting task, so I’ve included some easy ways in which you can dodge dehydration.
Make water a habit
- Drink one glass of water immediately prior to each meal. This will keep you hydrated and often helps to reduce the amount of food it takes for you to feel full à bonus side effect of weight loss.
- Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. Whenever the bottle is empty, refill and keep sipping away.
- When you feel like a snack, try drinking a glass of water first. Sometimes your body tricks you into thinking you’re hungry, when all you really need is some good hydration.
- Substitute water for soft drinks. When at home or out at a restaurant, get in the habit of ordering water instead of soda. Your body (and your waistline) will thank you!
- Make water more exciting. Add natural flavor using fruit, veggies or mint to make drinking water more appealing.
The most important suggestion of all is to listen to your body! How much water your body needs can vary every single day. Hydrate before doing exercise. Up your fluid intake at the first sign of illness. Adjust your water intake according to the weather. Pay attention to signs of dehydration and respond immediately to thirst cues. To put it simply, drink more water!