The importance of proper hydration goes far beyond the need to satisfy our thirst. Adequate water intake improves our thinking, helps with weight management, and lowers the risk of kidney stones.
How Much Water Should I Drink?
We need enough water to maintain the balance of fluids in our bodies. We obviously lose water when sweating but even when breathing, as well as through the processes of the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. When excess water is lost during a long run, for example, water from inside the cells is used to replace the lost water from between the cells. This affects how the body functions, as we shall see.
The following breakdown represents daily water loss under normal conditions, expressed in liters:
Skin losses about 0.5
Respiratory tract 0.4
GI tract 0.2
Total Loss/day 2.6
What Does Water Do in My Body?
Water is responsible for delivering nutrients and hormones through the blood to the cells. Water also removes waste products from the cells by way of the kidneys. Finally, water helps to regulate body temperature, a function that becomes even more important in the type of hot weather that many of us experience this time of year.
Will Drinking More Water Improve My Skin?
The science is unclear. One study suggested that water intake may improve skin hydration and reduce dryness, but more research is needed.
How Does Water Affect My Ability to Think?
When water loss exceeds two percent of our body mass, thinking is impaired. This can reduce our ability to reason and may affect our motor coordination. Reaction time may also increase, which is of particular importance to athletes training or playing in hot conditions.
Does Water Intake Affect My Mood and Energy Levels?
If you are dehydrated, you are more prone to being angry, hostile, confused, or depressed. Energy may suffer as well.
Does Dehydration Cause Headaches?
The evidence is unclear, but some research has suggested that dehydration may contribute to the development of migraines.
Is There a Relationship Between Water Intake and Kidney Stones?
The limited studies in this area support the idea that adequate water intake is associated with a reduced risk of kidney stones. If you are prone to this condition, it is a good idea to increase your daily water consumption.
Will I Lose Weight If I Drink More Water?
Replacing soda and other sugary beverages with water will reduce total calorie intake, which can help with weight loss. If you are trying to lose weight, this is a good place to begin.
One researcher did an interesting study in which face-to-face interviews were conducted with participants to discuss weight management. Some study subjects were instructed to drink 500 ml of water before each meal, and follow-up phone conversations were held two weeks later. The group instructed to drink water lost 1.3kg more than the control group.
If you are interested in weight loss, you might switch from caloric beverages to water and drink at least one glass of water before the meal.
Water is essential for health. There is considerable evidence to support the importance of hydration on thinking, kidney stone risk, and weight management. For best health, stay hydrated.