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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.

The Importance and Benefits of Water is an EHE International publication and is reprinted and distributed with its expressed written permission. EHE International, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, 4th Floor, New York, New York 10020; 212.332.3738;

Since 1913, EHE has been the recognized leader in employee and individual Preventive Healthcare Plans (PHP) specifically designed for the early identification of preventable disease and risk factors; clinical management of health findings; referral resources; and personal coaching intervention programs of adverse lifestyle behaviors associated with poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and smoking. It’s nationally available PHP is a comprehensive, integrated approach to preventive healthcare for the reduction and management of future medical claims expense. For more information, contact EHE International