Hydration 101: The Case for Water
Did you know that water accounts for roughly 60% of your body weight? And every time you sweat, head to the bathroom, or simply breathe you lose water volume? That’s why we constantly hear reminders to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
But why is it important to drink water? Because water really is life. Let’s dive into why hydration matters and how it affects the body!
Water’s Role in the Body
Water is present and used in processes in every single cell, tissue, and organ in the human body. Here’s just a short list of its countless functions. Water in the body is used to help:
- Carry oxygen and nutrients to each cell in the body.
- Lubricate joints for painless, easy movement.
- Regulate body temperature.
- Produce blood, which is responsible for delivering nutrients and disposing of waste.
- Create eye and ear fluid that enables sight and hearing.
- Dissolve food for a sense of smell and taste.
- Prevent infections.
As several survival shows have revealed, the human body can last several weeks without food but only one week without water. Given that it’s a factor in every bodily process, it’s easy to understand why. Our bodies truly can’t function without water!
Benefits of Hydration
Now that water’s function is a little clearer, let’s discuss some of the benefits of being hydrated!
Peak Physical Performance
Without enough fluid, the body can’t perform the functions listed above. Productivity slows down, and performance declines. All it takes is a 2% loss of body water content to start experiencing negative effects! You can imagine, then, how severe dehydration could drastically impact activity and athletic ability. Over the course of a training session or competition, some athletes lose as much as 6-10% of water weight through sweat .
Optimal hydration helps the body regulate its temperature and discourages fatigue. Both these factors have a direct effect on dexterity, agility, and endurance. So, don’t forget to stay hydrated during and after exercising for peak physical and mental performance!
Water is crucial not only for the body, but also for the mind. In one Cambridge study, participants with mild dehydration experienced a(n):
- Decrease in visual vigilance
- Reduction in working memory response
- Increase in tension/anxiety and fatigue
Even just mild dehydration has the power to impair mood, energy levels, cognitive function, and memory. Plus, it can trigger migraines and headaches. The same symptoms may occur with hunger, which makes it possible to mistake dehydration for an empty stomach. If a snack doesn’t relieve your symptoms, reach for your water – and hydrate regularly throughout the day!
Now, you might be wondering, am I not drinking enough water? Well, experts recommend about 11 cups for women and 16 cups for men per day. However, each individual is different and may consume less or more than those amounts and remain healthy.
That’s not the most helpful information. But a reliable indicator of dehydration is the color of urine. If your pee is colorless or light, you’re most likely sufficiently hydrated. If it’s dark yellow, you probably need to step up your hydration game.
Common signs of dehydration also include:
- Dry mouth
- Little to no urine
- Severe thirst
- Lack of tears when crying
Vomiting, diarrhea, exercise, and certain medications also lead to dehydration. And here’s a crazy fact: by the time we feel thirst, we are already dehydrated. Paired with the unfortunate reality that the older we get, the longer it takes our brains to detect and signal dehydration, it should be pretty obvious that we need to consciously consume water on a regular basis for optimal health.
Now that we’ve covered the importance of drinking water, here are 3 tips to help you stay hydrated throughout the day!
- On the go: Carry a reusable water bottle with you. You can even purchase a reusable water bottle like this Cactaki that has lines to indicate the amount of water you should drink by certain times of the day. Plus, this brand has a fruit infusion filter!
- Spice it up: Speaking of infusions, those who dislike the taste of plain water can try adding fruit to make it more flavorful! Think cucumbers, orange slices, mint, berries – how creative can you get?
- Round the clock: Random reminders not your speed? Drink water according to a schedule, whether at every meal, when you wake up/sleep, or at the start of each hour.
Soon, you’ll be reaching for your water without even realizing it! Plus, don’t forget that eating your water is a valid way to boost your hydration levels. Lots of foods, especially most fruits and vegetables, have high water content and can contribute to your daily intake.
This seems pretty cut and dry to us – water is the real MVP. Cheers and get to chugging!