Water: why you need it and how you can get it

08.25.14 |

Do you know why water matters?

Most of us understand that water matters, but the why might just change the way you think about this remarkable fluid.

The human body is made up of anywhere from around 50 to 65 percent water, and just five days without a sip will spell almost certain doom. After all, our brains are roughly 95 percent water, our blood 82, and our lungs 90. Taking this into consideration, it’s clear we need this substance, and we need to make sure we consume our daily recommendation of at least 64 ounces.

When dehydrated, our bodies become mentally and physically fatigued.

You’ve probably experienced some effects of dehydration after a hard workout or a sporting event—you might feel dizzy or you might develop a headache when your body is running low on H2O. That’s because water is vital to overall performance of our bodies. Like a high-tech engine, our bodies are made up of various systems which must communicate with one another and which must process thoughts and actions with speed and precision.
Proper fluid levels help us carry out necessary processes like digestion and circulation, but without water, our bodies’ ability to do this breaks down, leaving us stranded on the side of the road and in need of repair. In a peer-reviewed feature on WebMD, Steven Guest, MD, adjunct professor of medicine at Stanford, talks about this function.

Through the posterior pituitary gland, your brain communicates with your kidneys and tells it how much water to excrete as urine or hold onto for reserves.

When water levels are low, we become less focused, our short-term memory suffers, and our overall health fails. Water lubricates our body for digestion and facilitates eating, ensuring that each bite of food slides comfortably down the esophagus and into our stomachs. It also keeps our joints, like our knees and elbows, bending and swiveling smoothly. Even more, water helps us regulate body temperature through perspiration. When we overheat, we sweat to cool down, keeping our temperature as consistent as possible.

To make sure you receive these benefits, start with the obvious: drink more water. Take a water bottle with you to work, or stop between sets at the gym to visit the water fountain. Kick off your day with a big glass of H2O, and don’t forget to take a swig periodically throughout the day until you’ve hit your daily mark.

You can also ingest foods high in water content, such as fruits and veggies, broth-based soups, and beans. If you’re following the Habits of Health eating strategy, you’re already eating lots of these foods anyway, so you’re well on your way to having a healthy, happy body with plenty of water in the tank!

How do you consume your 64 ounces of water per day? Have you ever had a close call with dehydration? I’d love to hear your story! Leave a comment, and we’ll talk about nature’s miracle liquid.