Are you drinking enough water?

Over the course of an average day, many of us do multiple tasks and important daily activities. But many of us forget one very important thing: to drink the essential amount of water needed to keep us healthy.

Our bodies depend on water to help stimulate every organ's efforts, particularly digestion, temperature regulation and tissue development. We lose water every day through our skin, breath, urine and feces. When we fail to replenish our water supply, we not only can experience discomfort, but also can miss out on the many health benefits that proper water intake can provide.

What Are the Functions of Water in Our Bodies?

Water makes up more than half the weight of the human body and all cell and organ functions depend on water for performance. It serves as a lubricant and forms the base for saliva and the fluids that surround our joints. Water regulates our body temperature through perspiration and it helps to alleviate constipation by moving food through the intestinal tract and thereby eliminating waste.

Damage from Dehydration

Heat exhaustion, asthma, dental disease and several gastrointestinal problems may result from insufficient hydration. Fortunately, your body provides some automatic safety measures to alert you when your water level has dipped too low. When water loss drops to one percent of your body weight, you may experience symptoms of mild dehydration, such as headache, lightheadedness and decreased thinking ability.

Benefits of Drinking Enough Water

  • Prevention of Kidney Stones — When levels of calcium, uric acid and other substances in the urine become too high, they harden into crystals in your kidneys. Water aids in diluting the stone-causing chemicals.
  • Reduction in Asthma Attacks — Studies have shown that without sufficient water, people with asthma suffer more symptoms.
  • Prevention of Colds — Dehydration dries the mucous membranes in your nose and throat, weakening your ability to deflect the bacteria and viruses that cause colds and respiratory infections.
  • Improving Dental Health — When your water level dips below normal, saliva production drops off. Without saliva to fight off microorganisms, and flush out food particles, your mouth lacks its natural cavity fighting mechanism.

How Much Water is Recommended on an Average Day?

The amount of water you need varies according to your gender, weight and activity level. There are three general rules of thumb to follow when it comes to drinking water:

  1. Drink Twice as Much as it Takes to Quench Your Thirst
  2. Drink frequently throughout the day to prevent dehydration
  3. Drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses daily or one cup for every 20 pounds of body weight

If you're still not sure if your intake is sufficient, check your urine. If it is clear or pale yellow and virtually odorless, you're getting enough water; while dark yellow and strong smelling urine should be a reminder to drink a few more glasses of water. You can count fruit juices in your calculations; however, beverages such as coffee or alcohol have a mild diuretic effect, which promotes urination, therefore water loss. Start and end your day with water... it is essential to your good health!

GoodHealth News - Providence Health Plans