The other day I was helping my son with his anatomy homework. We read that the human body is made up of roughly 60-70% water. I think of myself as fairly solid, but it turns out I’m mostly fluid – H2O to be exact. This reminded me of the vital importance of water to my physical well-being. Plus, it turns out staying hydrated improves mental functions too.
Dehydration does so much more than make us a little thirsty. According to the National Institutes of Health, dehydration can contribute to feeling fatigued, cause a dry mouth, and affect kidney function through decreased urine output. The heart and blood vessels also suffer when we are dehydrated resulting in low blood pressure and rapid heartbeat. As dehydration worsens, it causes the eyes to look sunken in their sockets and makes the skin lose its elasticity. Drinking enough water is serious stuff!
While the consequences of not getting enough water aren’t pleasant, the benefits should motivate us to drink an extra glass of H2O right away. WebMd explains several benefits that come with being well-hydrated.
- Drinking water helps us eat less by filling the stomach and boosting the metabolism.
- Well-hydrated blood and cells carry more oxygen to give us more energy.
- More water makes improves mental clarity and lowers stress.
- Water fills out and moisturizes the skin for a naturally smooth look.
- Drinking water aids the digestive system and flushes toxins from the body.
These are just a few of the many benefits a healthy amount of H2O every day can provide. So how much water should we be drinking and how do we know we’re getting enough?
Many of us have heard the one-size-fits-all recommendation to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. While it’s easy to remember, the Mayo Clinic explains it’s not really supported by medical research. Instead, they recommend approximately 3 liters (13 cups) for men and 2.2 liters (9 cups) for women, then adjusting the amount according to other factors. For instance, warm weather or exercise may make us sweat more and increase the amount of water we need. Illness can also affect our need for water and women who are pregnant or nursing need more water too.
I like the rule of thumb to drink half my body weight in ounces advocated by nutritionist Yuri Elkaim and others. This puts me right around the nine cup mark recommended by the Mayo Clinic. When we are well-hydrated we should rarely feel thirsty and urine should be clear or light yellow. Our bodies will reward us when we give them the right amount of water to thrive.
We want to hear from you. Do you get enough water? How do you drink water throughout your day?
Elkaim, Yuri. The truth about how much water you should really drink: Your hydration questions, answered. USNews: Health and Wellness. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/09/13/the-truth-about-how-much-water-you-should-really-drink
Mayo Clinic. Water: How much should you drink every day? Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/water/ART-20044256?pg=1
National Institutes of Health. Medline Plus: Dehydration. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000982.htm
WebMD. 7 Wonders of Water. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.boots.com/diet/ss/slideshow-7-wonders-of-water