10 Reasons Why You Need to Drink Water By Steve Edwards
You hear that you need to drink water constantly but rarely hear the reasons why. Sure, you know that you need to stay "hydrated" but you may not really even understand what this means. Let's delve into the meaning behind hydration and just why you need to drink so much plain "boring" water.
- Your body is made up primarily of water. When properly hydrated, about two-thirds of your body is water. Muscle tissue is even higher, at around 70 percent, while fat is less. Muscle powers your body and fat protects it. Put two and two together and you may surmise that water is vital to the things that make your body do stuff. When you don't have enough water, your performance declines in a state we call dehydration. Get too dehydrated and your body will no longer function, which isn't too surprising if it's low on a nutrient that makes up 65 percent of it.
- You don't need to drink 65 percent of your weight in water each day. This is because, one, if you've lost all the water in your body, you'd be dead; but also that water makes up most of all living things on our planet. Since we eat living—or recently alive—things we get some of that water. When we cook things, they lose their water. This means, the more whole raw foods you eat, the less water you need to drink. Fruits and veggies lead the group of water-rich foods and contain around 95 percent water. If you eat a lot of plants, you can drink less water.
- There is more to hydration than just your water levels. Water reacts with chemicals in your body in order to function. We lose water in the form of sweat and sweat is made up of water and body "salts," which are mainly sodium, chloride, and potassium but also magnesium, calcium, and so on. These are called electrolytes and, basically, are the reason that salt is such a vital component in your diet. Salt is a mixture of sodium and chloride but we use the term "salts" in reference to electrolytes in general. Too much salt is bad and too little is bad. Both can kill you. This is why, like water, the amount you consume should be directly related to the workload your body is put under. More exercise equals more sweat, meaning that you need more water and more salt.
- What about water weight? Some people are afraid to drink a lot of water because they're afraid of gaining "water weight." This is the opposite of what you should do. Water weight is a term for your body holding on to excess water because it's not getting enough. The best way to get rid of water weight is to drink more water. It works two ways. If you don't drink enough water or if you eat too much salt in your diet, your body hoards water. This water/salt relationship is referred to as your electrolyte balance. In general, there's an easy way to tell if you need more water or salt, in that most people's diets feature far too much salt—especially if you eat in restaurants. So when you aren't exercising, you almost never need more salt. When you are exercising, getting enough salt becomes an issue. Endurance athletes are ever aware of the need to have enough salt to avoid a condition called hyponatremia, a condition when you've had too much water and not enough salt that's basically just dehydration from a different angle. Those who don't do excessive exercise outdoors almost never have to worry about this condition.
- So what does water do for you? You'll often hear such claims as helping chemical reactions, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, eyes, and your spinal cord. Sure, sure, it does all of this stuff. In fact, since you're made up of water a case can be made that it does almost everything. So why split hairs? Your body doesn't work, at all, without being fed a lot of water. You can live days, weeks, sometimes even months without food. But you can't live even a few days without water.
- Itchy skin. Dry skin. Constipation. Sneezing. Dry cough. Headaches. Nosebleeds. Acne. This list represents common ailments related to drinking too little water. Since water regulates your body functions it makes sense that minor glitches in bodily functions may relate to water. And this list is partial. Many symptoms blamed on allergies are probably due to living in a dehydrated state. When you are properly hydrated, your body can better defend itself.
- The above symptoms may be worse in the winter. It takes water just to breathe and you lose water through your mouth and lungs. During winter, when the air is dry, it takes more water. Add forced heat in the air—like home heating systems and fires—and the situation is exacerbated. This means that you need to drink extra water in the winter when it's cold, even though you are probably less thirsty.
- Water and your immune system. During winter, lack of water will dry out the mucous membranes of your lungs, gut, and sinus passages and lessen your resistance to disease. These barriers protect your body against bacteria, viruses, and pollutants when fully hydrated and intact. Allowing them to dry out could be the leading cause of the common cold and allergic symptoms, not to mention things like constipation, sinusitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and long-term diseases like hemorrhoids and colon cancer.
- Water and fat loss. In other articles I've talked about the importance of fat mobilization for energy and its relation to weight loss and effective exercise. Well, water is the main component of this action. A well-hydrated body has higher levels of oxygen in the bloodstream, translating into an increased ability to burn fat as fuel. The more efficiently you burn fat as fuel, the more effectively you exercise, leading to a better overall body composition.
- How much water? It's said you need about eight glasses of water a day. However, this will vary due to activity and environmental conditions. As a general rule, add a couple of glasses during the hot days of summer and the dry, cold nights of winter. During exercise, you may lose a quart an hour or more. While all liquids provide water, additions such as sugar, diuretics (caffeine, etc), and carbonation reduce the hydration effect. Combining all three, as in soda, can reduce the hydration efficiency of the liquid to almost nil.
I hope I've sold you on the importance of drinking water.
Source: © Beachbody.com