Water is essential to all life on this planet. Every plant and animal need it to survive and flourish. Humans are no exception. In fact, our bodies are mostly made of H₂O — about 50 to 70% of our weight is water, depending on your age and size.
Water and hydration play many critical roles in our health. Every cell, tissue, and organ in the human body needs water to function well. All the body’s major systems rely on water to make them work properly too.
Although it’s a good idea to drink sufficient water, we can also stay hydrated by consuming other fluids such as teas and juices. We can get water from the foods we eat too. In fact, fruits and vegetables can contain a surprising amount of water, for example, watermelon and spinach are almost 100% water by weight.
Staying hydrated is an important part of being healthy. Here’s some of the ways in which hydration helps protect your body and mind:
- Delivers oxygen throughout the body
- Forms saliva which helps with digestion
- Regulates body temperature through perspiration and respiration
- Flushes waste materials out of cells and the body
- Transports carbohydrates and proteins
- Acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord
- Helps cells grow, reproduce, and thrive
- Lubricates and cushions joints
- Allows the brain to make hormones and neurotransmitters
- Helps you feel fuller to avoid overeating
When your body is not getting enough water, it can impair your health. Dehydration is caused by not consuming enough fluids and can be increased by other factors such as physical exertion or hot temperatures. Even mild dehydration can contribute to health concerns for the body and mind.
Here are a few ways that dehydration may affect your physical and mental health:
- Reduces motivation
- Increases fatigue
- Impairs mood and concentration
- Exacerbates headaches and migraines
- Worsens memory and brain performance
- Contributes to constipation
- Worsens hangovers from excessive alcohol
- Causes your body to overheat
How much water do you need?
The body loses water through the breath, perspiration, digestion, urine, and bowel movements. All of us need to replenish our body’s water supply throughout the day, but the amount of water we need will vary according to gender, age, weight, level of physical activity, and the area in which you live.
According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, adults who live in a temperate climate should consume water (from beverages and food) as follows:
- For men, about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day
- For women, about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day
For most people, following the familiar recommendation of eight glasses of water a day should do it. But for some, there are other factors to consider. These are:
- Exercise. If you are taking part in activity that makes you sweat a lot, you should drink more water to replace the fluid lost from your body through perspiration.
- Environment. If you live in a hot or humid climate or if it’s a hot time of year, you may need to drink more fluids. High altitudes can also cause dehydration.
- Overall health. When you’re sick, including fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses more fluid. Also, some health conditions, such as bladder infections may require you to drink more fluids.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding. Pregnant or breast-feeding women may need to increase fluid intake to stay hydrated.
Tips to Help You Consume More Water
Every little sip helps when it comes to staying hydrated. Here’s a few ways you can add more water to your daily routine:
- Have your water bottle filled and handy. This way, every time you feel thirsty, you’ve got your water source at your fingertips.
- Drink a glass of water when you wake up in the morning. This will also help wake you up and kick start some of your bodily functions.
- Drink a glass of water after bathroom breaks.
- Drink a glass of water before each meal to help fill you up.
- Ask for water when eating out—it’ll help you keep you hydrated and it’s cheaper than everything else on the menu!
- Flavor your water with lemon or lime if you need to spice things up to get you drinking more.
- Eat more foods with high water content such as lettuce, cucumbers, celery, zucchinis, and melons.
What else can I drink?
If water isn’t your go-to beverage, that’s ok. While you should drink some water every day, there are other beverages you can consume that will help you stay hydrated too.
When choosing other beverages, be mindful of the sugar content. Soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, and flavored waters can be surprisingly high in sugar and calories. Drinks with sugar alternatives such as sucralose, aspartame, or saccharine may save you some calories in the short-term, but it’s unclear how beneficial they are as part of a long-term weight-management option.
Instead, choose drinks such as plain coffee or teas, sparkling water, seltzers, unsweetened milk alternatives, 100% fruit or vegetable juices, or flavored waters with few added sugars. These will help you stay hydrated without the added sugars and calories.
For more info, read our blog on the 10 basic types of water.
Get In Touch With A Health Expert
If you need guidance with your hydration and overall health plan, the experts at Nature’s Link, led by Dr. Kristine Devillier, can help. Dr. Devillier is a mind/body mentor, board-certified naturopath, and master herbalist. She brings more than 20 years’ experience and a wealth of knowledge about natural health to each consultation — providing easy-to-follow advice on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Dr. Devillier creates custom-made plans that fit your life and enable you to achieve your goals.
If you are ready for a health overhaul or need advice on a particular aspect of your health, call us on 337-332-2705 or reach us online to connect with one of our health experts. We proudly offer natural health consultations in Breaux Bridge, Lafayette, and the entire Acadiana area.