The Importance and Benefits of Water
By Heidi Jardine, M.S.
How much water should you drink in a day? There really is no simple answer. Conventional wisdom suggests that we drink eight
(8) eight-ounce glasses per day. Some research, however, suggests that this may be more than we actually need. Other studies
report that we should drink one ounce of water for every two pounds of body weight. With such conflicting information, you
may be left wondering, ‘how much water does a person really need’? In truth, the optimal amount may not be the same for
everyone, but understanding how the body uses water can help you determine how much you need.
Water is the main component of the human body, comprising almost two-thirds of total body weight. Every system in the body
depends on water. Water regulates body temperature, hydrates internal organs, and keeps the immune system strong. Water
is necessary for the body to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. Furthermore, it detoxifies the liver and kidneys
and carries waste out of the body. When you are dehydrated, your blood is literally thicker and your body has to work harder
to maintain adequate circulation. Among other ill effects, dehydration causes the brain to become less active. This decreased
brain activity can make it harder for you to concentrate, and can lead to fatigue. Good hydration is so important that,
without water, death can occur in as few as three days.
There are many benefits of proper hydration. Drinking water can boost energy levels, alleviate headaches, ease joint pain,
improve skin elasticity, and decrease water retention. Additionally, water acts as a natural appetite suppressant and can
aid in weight loss. Water, which is calorie-free, facilitates the body’s metabolic systems and increases the metabolic rate,
allowing the body to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. Furthermore, studies have shown that thirst and hunger
sensations are triggered together. As a result, when you are even slightly dehydrated, your body’s thirst mechanism can
be mistaken for hunger and you may eat when your body actually needs a drink.
One way to choose the right amount of water is to first look at how the body uses water. A normal individual typically uses
2300 ml (30 ml = about 1 oz.) of water each day for normal processes. The human body will produce about 200 ml of water
each day from the cellular oxidation of food, and will obtain approximately 700 ml of water each day directly from food
consumption (most food contains water, especially natural foods such as fruits and vegetables). So, by drinking about 1400
ml of water each day, you will at least cover your basic needs. However, on a hot day you may need to drink an additional
1000 ml or more. Exercise requires even more water intake, so it is important to assess your personal situation and ensure
that you drink enough water to meet your body’s needs.
As you assess your intake needs, remember that is generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a signal to drink water.
By the time you become thirsty, you may already be slightly dehydrated. If you are not drinking enough water, here are some
tips to help you drink more throughout the day:
- Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal
- Add a lemon wedge to your water for added taste
- Keep a water bottle on your desk at work
- For a warm drink, try warm water instead of coffee or tea
- Take a water bottle with you wherever you go (try freezing it)
- Substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks at social gatherings
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The information is not intended to constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for consultation
with a physician or other health care provider. Individuals with specific complaints should seek immediate consultation
from their personal physicians.
Heidi Jardine is a Personal Coach at EHE International. She holds an M.S in Corporate Wellness and a B.S. in Exercise Science.
Ms. Jardine has experience in university wellness programs focused on substance abuse education and counseling; corporate
center fitness assessments and programs, and in community-sponsored health and recreation programs and education.