Health Benefits of Drinking Water
Our bodies are approximately 60% water as adults, yet so many people don't understand the importance of drinking water (and a lot of it) daily. Water is essential for all body functions because it is a major component of each cell in our bodies. Here are some of the major health benefits to drinking water:
To improve joint health. Our cartilage is approximately 80% water. If we are dehydrated, this can affect the shock-absorbing ability of our joints, which can contribute to joint pain/injury.
To improve oxygenation and blood flow. Our blood is approximately 90% water. This means it is severely affected when we are dehydrated. Improving the water content in blood can help deliver oxygen more efficiently to muscles when we are working out. It can also help reduce blood pooling or edema in the legs. Dehydration can lead to increased blood thickness and high blood pressure which is a risk factor for many cardiovascular problems.
To support the central nervous system. Our brain, spinal cord, and nerves are highly reliant on water to "cushion" them to decrease risk of injury. With the brain being the most important part of the body, it is always supplied water first before any other tissue. But did you know that when you are thirsty it's because the brain is starting to be dehydrated? That means all other structures are dehydrated as well. We should be drinking water regularly throughout the day to prevent the feeling of thirst.
To improve digestive health. Dehydration can lead to digestive problems including constipation and increased risk of stomach ulcers. This can affect our ability to absorb good nutrients from our food.
To protect our kidneys. The kidneys' job is to regulate fluid in our bodies and get rid of waste. A lack of water can lead to increased risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
How much water should I drink?
This question is a highly debated topic, and the right amount of water varies from person to person. According to the CDC, 4 out of 5 adults in the United States do NOT get the recommended amount of water per day. As a general guideline, 8 glasses of water per day is recommended. Yes, you read that right. EIGHT! Other beverages can be included in your day, but should not make up a majority of what you drink. An easy way to start drinking more water is to drink a full glass in the morning when you wake up, a full glass at night before going to sleep, and a full glass before each meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner). You may need more than 8 glasses if you live in a hot climate, are very active, or tend to sweat a lot.
Remember: humans can only survive 2-3 days without water. We get some water in the food we eat, but we should primarily be getting our water by drinking it. How much water have you had to drink today?
Written by Lauren Kremer, PT, DPT