One of the key points experts emphasize when giving health advice is water intake, and rightly so. Water is truly essential to life and regulates many more body functions than we realize. For World Water Day this year, we’re exploring the relationship between water and the various roles it plays in the human body. After you’ve read these 10 facts, hopefully, you will begin to better understand exactly why we are advised to consume so much water every day.
1. Humans Are 60% H2O
Science estimates that water makes up about 60 percent of the adult human body, which kind of explains why it’s essential. Both the brain and the heart are composed of 73 percent water, while the lungs, skin, and kidneys contain 84, 63, and 79 percent water, respectively. Water is essential to the function of every system of the body and is replenished through the food and beverages we consume. The ideal amount of water you should consume depends on factors such as age, weight, and activity level, and can be calculated by dividing your weight in pounds by two and drinking that much in ounces.
The ideal amount of water you should consume can be calculated by dividing your weight in pounds by two and drinking that much in ounces.
2. Water Regulates Body Temperature
The intricate balance of heat production and heat loss is controlled by the hypothalamus, which is located at the base of the brain. You can think of it as the body’s thermostat. When heat needs to be conserved, the hypothalamus sends out a signal, and heat is moved away from our limbs and towards our organs through blood, which is composed mostly of water. And when the body is in danger of overheating, the hypothalamus makes sure that the excess heat is moved towards the skin surface, where it is released as sweat.
3. Water Promotes Healthy Skin
When you think about it, some of the most important skincare ingredients for optimal skin health fall into the hydration category. We reach for products containing hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides because of the part they play in keeping the skin radiant and hydrated. In addition to loading up on these ingredients, it’s also important to hydrate daily through water intake. Our skin, which is the largest human organ, consists of 63 percent water and needs the right amount to function properly.
4. Water Aids in Nutrient Absorption
After you consume a meal, it is broken down by water and other liquids in the body, such as stomach acid, so that the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can be readily absorbed. Water is also the vehicle by which said nutrients are ferried through the body’s systems to the areas where they are needed. Through a process called diffusion, the small intestine moves water and nutrients through the capillaries and lymphatic vessels and into the bloodstream, where those amino acids, simple sugars, vitamins, and minerals create proteins and energy for the body to run on.
5. Water Maximizes Physical Performance & Boosts Energy
When you engage in activities like sports or working out, you lose a lot of your body’s water stores through perspiration. Dehydration can often be a result of that water depletion, leading to fatigue, a decreased capacity for physical activity, as well as an increased possibility for serious medical conditions such as hyperthermia, hypotension, and even seizures. Drinking water also boosts metabolism, which can have a positive effect on energy levels.
6. Water Aids Digestion
Drinking water before, during, and after a meal can help the body break down the food better. Your bowels need the proper amount of water to function optimally, and deprivation of this essential resource can lead to digestive issues, increased stomach acidity, stomach ulcers, constipation, and heartburn. The water you ingest through food and drink is absorbed by your small and large intestines, which is necessary for the process of metabolizing nutrients and absorbing soluble fiber.
7. Improves Cognitive Function
A 2012 study by the University of Barcelona’s Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology found conclusive evidence to suggest that an imbalance in the body’s internal environment due to dehydration can adversely affect cognitive function. According to the study, dehydration by as little as 2 percent can impair memory, as well as the ability to perform tasks that involve attention. In order to avoid a decline in focus, alertness, and other cognitive skills required to progress through an average day, make sure to replenish the body’s water reserves periodically.
8. Water Helps the Body Dispose of Waste
Just as water helps to carry vital nutrients from food to various parts of the body, it plays an important role in ridding the body of waste. When the body overheats, water helps to regulate temperature, releasing the excess heat as sweat through the skin. Water also helps the kidneys remove waste from the blood in the form of urine, and clears undigested remains of food from the bowels. One important reason to drink the right amount of water is that a properly hydrated body draws less water from the colon, which makes it a lot easier to go number two.
9. Water Protects Tissue, Joints, and the Spine
Synovial fluid, which helps to keep areas such as the joints and spine flexible, is composed mostly of water that helps to lubricate and protect these areas. Synovial fluid acts as the body’s shock absorber, cushioning the joints and reducing friction between them. Water aids in protein production in the muscle tissue, which stabilizes the joints and helps to maintain muscle tone. Inadequate water intake can lead to dehydration, and dehydrated cartilage can lead to joint pain due to increased friction.
10. Water Can Prevent Headaches
Ever complained of a headache and been told to drink a glass of water? That’s probably because headaches are one of the most common symptoms of dehydration, so restoring the body’s hydration balance reverses the damage and fixes the issue. While there has been some research to suggest that drinking a certain number of ounces per day can improve symptoms for chronic migraine sufferers, there is a dearth of high quality research to truly solidify the relationship between water intake and headache symptoms. The way I see it, reaching for that glass of water as the first line of action against a headache is a win-win. You could cure the headache if its true cause is dehydration, and if that doesn’t work, you’ll be better hydrated and closer to your water intake goals.