Health Benefits of Water, Part 1

Water is everywhere we look and just as vital to life on this planet.  Do you know what percentage of water is in the human body?  According to the USGS (United States Geological Survey) it is 60%.  They also cite a study that demonstrated our blood is 92% water, Lungs were 83% water, our muscles and kidneys are 79%, our brain and heart are 73% water, our skin is 64%, and our bones are comprised of 31% water.  With so much of our bodies made of water it’s no surprise that a human can live for weeks without eating food but can only survive a few days without water.

Health Benefits of Water

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As important as water is to us it is even more vital when we workout, especially in the summer months.  We recently made a post on avoiding dehydration as well as a post on some ways to maximize your summer workouts which indirectly reflected on some tips to save body water.  However, did you know that an estimated 75% of Americans are not drinking enough water daily!  If you still need convincing as to why you should raise a cup (or three) of water then this loosely based internet meta analysis based top 10 health Benefits of water is for you!

10.  Decreases/prevents hangovers:

The morning after a night of too much drinking can be horrible and make you question why you would drink so much the night before.  What you really should be doing is downing glass after glass of water.  Alcohol dehydrates the body and the more you drink the more dehydrated you will become.  By drinking more water you will be replacing those fluids lost to alcohol, which will make you feel better.  However, water works better when used proactively to prevent the dehydration.  Best case scenario is to alternate between glasses of water and alcohol to keep the ill-effects at bay or at the very least down a good amount of water prior to going to bed.

9.  Healthy Skin:

How is great skin one of the Health benefits of drinking water?  Skin is an organ like all our others and as such relies on water to maintain homeostasis.  As noted above skin is 64% water anyway, so not drinking enough can negatively impact your skin as well.  How to know if your skin is not getting enough water?  If it is dry, flaking, or tight typically indicates loss of water but skin that is dry is also less resilient and more prone to wrinkling.  Try drinking 8 glasses of water a day to improve your skin health as studies have demonstrated people who do have reported healthier, ‘glowing’ skin.  Give it a try for 2 weeks and see if you can spot a difference.

8.  Balances Fluids/electrolytes/toxins:

Everyday we will lose just over a half gallon of water between going to the bathroom and sweating.  Exercising, vomiting, and diarrhea are ways that we will use greater amounts of water.  If we don’t replace those lost fluids we will put ourselves into dehydration which can lead to various medical/health issues.  Another one of the health benefits of water is to balance and maintain our proper fluid level.  Additionally, water is vital in transporting the various electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, chloride, and others) throughout our body without which our bodies would not be able to regulate other functions like blood pressure.  Finally, water is essential in helping to flush toxins out of our bodies.  Without enough water toxins can statically build up in our body by our colon drying out, causing constipation, and our kidneys will stop excreting toxins.  When toxin levels are allowed to rise performance, both in daily life and in exercising, will decrease.  Drinking enough water will aid the flushing of toxins by softening stool and continue the filtering process of our kidneys.

Health Benefits of Water

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7.  Protects Joints/cartilage:

Cartilage is 85% comprised of water and synovial fluid is virtually all water with a number of proteins and enzymes.  Water contributes significantly to the function of both as cartilage lines all but a few of our joints and helps provide a layer of protection for each joint where as synovial fluid helps lubricate the joint.  Some studies have shown that having less synovial fluid in the joint can lead towards changes in the proteins/enzymes of the synovial fluid which will therefore start or increase joint inflammation.

6.  Increases Energy:

Low levels of dehydration have been linked to increased fatigue, irritability, sluggishness, and confusion.  Some studies have indicated that drinking 2 cups of water when those times occur have a greater chance of improving those complaints than a cup of coffee.  How much water?  The old adage was 8 cups (8 oz) of water a day but there is now increasing evidence to let your body indicate when to drink water.  Like times when you are feeling tired, irritable, sluggish, or hungry.  There can be plenty of water found in foods and low levels of dehydration can trigger the stomach into asking for some more of those higher water level foods which will manifest in hunger pains.

Check Back Next Week for the Health Benefits of Water, Part 2 But First….

 

How Much is Enough?

When people learn about the health benefits of water inevitably there is a question regarding how to know if you are well hydrated or not.  The easiest indicator we have to determine our hydration level is our urine.  When you are well hydrated your pee should be almost clear with a tinge of yellow in it and there should be little to no smell.

However, when you go to the bathroom if your pee is a dark yellow and if it smells heavily of urine than chances are that you are dehydrated.  In fact, in the absence of a vitamin pill the darker the color or the smellier it is the more dehydrated you are.  At 1% dehydration our pee will be yellow, at 5% dehydration levels our pee will be chardonnay colored, and over 5% dehydration our pee could look orange in color.

How Much is Too Much?

Finally,  with all the great health benefits of water and the good that comes with being well hydrated some may think that, with water, you can’t get enough of a good thing.  Well actually…you can.  Infrequently people have drank so much water that they have put themselves into hyponatremia, a state of abnormally low sodium in your body.  Sodium is an important electrolyte responsible for a number of basic functions including heart pumping.   In normal healthy adults sodium blood levels are 136-to-145 milliequivalents/liter and anything under 135 miliequivalents/liter is considered hyponatremia.

Typically endurance athletes and the elderly are the most susceptible to this condition; endurance athletes as the tend to over hydrate in an effort to replenish fluids lost in long races and the elderly as they tend to not be as efficient in maintaining their electrolyte balances.  However, for most of us it will be very challenging to enter into this state, especially with the moderate increase in our water consumption that has been attributed to the many health benefits of water.