Water and Wellness
Why is water good for you?
We all know water is essential to life. But most of us are not aware of the crucial role water plays in sustaining the function of every organ and function of our bodies. Water does more than sustain life. Good water can actually improve our health, our fitness and even our appearance.
What happens without water?
We can go for weeks at a time without food, but we will die in a matter of days without water – even faster in warm climates where perspiration causes us to lose water quickly. Going without water can have disastrous results:
- A 1% deficit in the body’s water creates thirst.
- A 5% deficit causes a slight fever.
- A 10% deficit and the tongue swells, the kidneys start to fail, and the muscles go into spasms. Walking becomes impossible.
- At or before 20% loss, skin cracks, organs grind to a halt, and death occurs.
What does water do in the body?
Water is the single most important nutrient the body takes in; every cell, tissue, and organ needs water to function properly.
- Water transports essential water-soluble vitamins and nutrients (such as protein, minerals, vitamins B & C) that cells, tissues, and organs needs to function properly.
- Water moistens our eyes, mouth, and nasal passages, helping organs perform properly and keeping us physically comfortable.
- Water allows the body’s cells to retain their structure and carries oxygen to the cells.
- Water cushions the organs and acts as a shock absorber to minimise stress and damage to organs.
- Water helps regulate body temperature, keeping the body cool when it is hot and insulating it when outside conditions are cold.
- Water flushes the kidneys to rid the body of toxic substances.
- Water carries solid waste from the body.
- Water balances electrolytes (minerals such as potassium, sodium, and chloride) that help regulate body temperature and control blood pressure.
- Water provides optimum lubrication for joints.
- Water is a valuable source of trace minerals such as manganese, magnesium, cobalt, and copper.
Drinking water can improve your health and well-being.
- Water helps maintain blood volume, which maintains your energy.
- Proper hydration improves your concentration and reaction time, especially during exercise.
- Water increases the number of calories your burn during regular daily activities.
- Water can help lessen the stomach distress concentrated medicines can cause.
- Water helps rid the body of excess sodium, which can cause fluid retention.
- Studies show links between high water consumption and reduced risk of minor ailments, such as colds, constipation, and urinary tract infections, to more serious conditions, including kidney stones and bladder cancer.
- Frequent water intake prevents dehydration among the very young and old. (Dehydration is on of the leading causes of hospital admissions for those over 65 years old.)
- Water may help you lose weight and improve your appearance.
- The body often mistakes thirst for hunger pangs, so people often eat snacks when their bodies are thirsty, not hungry. Studies show that people who drink large amounts of water usually feel less hungry.
- Water gives you more energy during exercise and increases the calories you burn during exercise.
- Studies indicate that water may also help reduce fat deposits.
- Water helps hydrate the skin, leaving it smoother, softer, more supple, and more wrinkle-free. (Water reaches the skin last; if the body doesn’t get enough water, the skin will feel the effects sooner than any other organ.)
How much water do you need?
Your body needs water even if you do not feel thirsty.
- While individual needs depend on many factors, as a general guideline, the average person should drink between 1.5 and 2.5 litres of water (about 1.5 – 2.5 quarts) every day. (Check out our Water Intake Calculator to find out more about how much water you should drink based on your exercise habits and your current weight.)
- Beverages with caffeine – coffee, tea, and colas – actually dehydrate the body, robbing the organs by using more water to process than they provide.
- Alcoholic beverages also cause dehydration.
- Juices and sports drinks quench the body’s thirst, but they may also provide unwanted calories.
A variety of sources were used for the data on this page, including the Center for Disease Control, the Water Quality Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Dietetic Association, and the American Heart Association (USA).
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