Water quenches your thirst and cools you down on a hot day, but it does a lot more than that. Water makes up 60 percent of your body weight and is used by every tiny cell in your body to carry out bodily functions. Without water, you can’t survive more than a few days—at most a week. Your body is constantly losing water through sweating, breathing, and digestion, so you must regularly replenish lost fluids or your body will become dehydrated.
If you’ve ever wondered what the big deal is about drinking water, wonder no more. Here are a few ways water is essential to life and health.
Think of the fluids circulating in your body—your blood, saliva, digestive enzymes, cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord), and bile, to name just a few. These fluids are made mostly of water and have important jobs in the body. They digest food, transport nutrients, circulate oxygen, protect vital organs, cushion joints, and regulate body temperature.
By keeping your body hydrated, you help ensure these fluids can do their jobs without trouble. When your brain and kidneys notice you’re running low on these fluids, they work together to alert you that it’s time for a drink. Important as fluids are to your body, don’t ignore the feeling. Take the hint and drink some water.
Water keeps things moving through your system, working to flush waste products and toxins out of your cells to be filtered by your kidneys and eliminated in your urine. Strain is placed on your kidneys when they lack enough fluid to keep things moving. You can tell you’re hydrated if your urine is a pale color and odor-free. Dark-colored or strong-smelling urine is a signal you need to drink more water.
Suffer from constipation? You may not be drinking enough water. When your system is lacking fluids, your colon pulls water out of your stools to compensate, leading to hard stools and constipation. Keep your bowels moving by drinking plenty of water and eating a fiber-rich diet.
When your muscle cells lack fluid, they begin to shrivel and aren’t able perform at their potential. You feel fatigued and dragged out. This is one reason why it’s so important to stay hydrated when exercising. As your body loses fluid through sweat, it must be replenished or your performance will suffer and dehydration will set in. Drink water throughout the day, before exercising, during a long workout, and after your workout to maintain adequate fluid levels in your muscles.
Water isn’t a magic pill for weight loss, but it is part of the equation. When you drink water, you’re consuming zero calories—not a high-calorie beverage. Second, water helps fill your stomach so you don’t feel as hungry. And third, foods with high-water content like fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, beans, and soups are healthier, have fewer calories, and help fill your stomach to curb your appetite.
Like all other parts of your body, your skin contains water. Part of maintaining healthy, smooth skin is to drink enough water. When your skin is parched, wrinkles and fine lines are more likely to develop.
Sweating is one way your body eliminates toxins such as lactic acid and cortisol. Keeping your body hydrated allows water to flush out these unwanted chemicals through your sweat. When you don’t sweat, toxins and dirt build up in your skin and cause blemishes.
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