What’s the big deal?

It’s common to hear that water is essential for your health. But why?

This substance makes up a majority of your body weight and is involved in many important functions, including:

  • flushing out waste from your body
  • regulating body temperature
  • helping your brain function

You get most of your water from drinking beverages, but food also contributes a small amount to your daily water intake.

Read on to learn more ways water can help improve your well-being.

1. It helps create saliva

Water is a main component of saliva. Saliva also includes small amounts of electrolytes, mucus, and enzymes. It’s essential for breaking down solid food and keeping your mouth healthy.

Your body generally produces enough saliva with regular fluid intake. However, your saliva production may decrease as a result of age or certain medications or therapies. If your mouth is drier than usual and increasing your water intake isn’t helping, see your doctor.

2. It regulates your body temperature

Staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining your body temperature. Your body loses water through sweat during physical activity and in hot environments.

Your sweat keeps your body cool, but your body temperature will rise if you don’t replenish the water you lose. That’s because your body loses electrolytes and plasma when it’s dehydrated.

If you’re sweating more than usual, make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

3. It protects your tissues, spinal cord, and joints

Water consumption helps lubricate and cushion your joints, spinal cord, and tissues. This will help you enjoy physical activity and lessen discomfort caused by conditions like arthritis.

4. It helps excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation

Your body uses water to sweat, urinate, and have bowel movements.

Sweat regulates body temperature when you’re exercising or in warm temperatures. You need water to replenish the lost fluid from sweat.

You also need enough water in your system to have healthy stool and avoid constipation.

Your kidneys are also important for filtering out waste through urination. Adequate water intake helps your kidneys work more efficiently.

5. It helps maximize physical performance

Drinking plenty of water during physical activity is essential. Athletes may lose up to 6 to 10 percent of body weight during physical activity.

Hydration also affects your strength, power, and endurance.

You may be more susceptible to the effects of dehydration if you’re participating in endurance training or high-intensity sports such as basketball.

Negative effects of exercise in the heat without enough water can include serious medical conditions, like decreased blood pressure and hyperthermia.

6. It helps prevent constipation

Eating fiber isn’t the only way to prevent constipation. It’s also important to maintain your water intake so your bowel movements contain enough water.

If you don’t consume enough water, magnesium, and fiber, you may be more likely to experience constipation.

If you’re already constipated, you may find that drinking carbonated water can help ease your symptoms.

7. It aids in digestion

Drinking water before, during, and after a meal will help your body break down the food you eat more easily. This will help you digest food more effectively and get the most out of your meals.

8. It helps with nutrient absorption

In addition to helping with food breakdown, water also helps dissolve vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from your food. It then delivers these vitamin components to the rest of your body for use.

9. It helps you lose weight

A few studies have linked body fat and weight loss with drinking water in both overweight girls and women. Drinking more water while dieting and exercising may just help you lose extra pounds.

10. It improves blood oxygen circulation

Water carries helpful nutrients and oxygen to your entire body. Reaching your daily water intake will improve your circulation and have a positive impact on your overall health.

11. It helps help fight off illness

Drinking enough water can help prevent certain medical conditions. These include:

Water also helps you absorb important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from your food, which will increase your chances of staying healthy.

12. It helps boost energy

Drinking water may activate your metabolism. A boost in metabolism has been associated with a positive impact on energy level.

One study found that drinking 500 milliliters of water boosted the metabolic rate by 30 percent in both men and women. These effects appeared to last over an hour.

13. It aids in cognitive function

Proper hydration is key to staying in tip-top cognitive shape. Several studies indicate that not drinking enough water can negatively impact your focus, alertness, and short-term memory.

14. It helps improve mood

Not getting enough water can also affect your mood. Dehydration may result in fatigue and confusion as well as anxiety.

15. It helps keep skin bright

Adequate water intake will help keep your skin hydrated and may promote collagen production. However, water intake alone isn’t enough to reduce the effects of aging. It’s also connected to your genes and overall sun protection.

16. It prevents overall dehydration

Dehydration is the result of your body not having enough water. And because water is imperative to so many bodily functions, dehydration can be very dangerous.

Severe dehydration can result in a number of severe complications, including:

  • swelling in your brain
  • kidney failure
  • seizures

Make sure you drink enough water to make up for what’s lost through sweat, urination, and bowel movements to avoid dehydration.

How much should you drink?

Being attentive to the amount of water you drink each day is important for optimal health. Thankfully, most people drink when they’re thirsty, which helps regulate your daily water intake.

According to the National Academies:

  • Men should drink about 15.5 cups of water (125 ounces) each day.
  • Women should drink about 11.5 cups (91 ounces).

You get about 20 percent of your daily water intake from food. The rest is dependent on drinking water and water-based beverages.

You’ll have to increase your water intake if you’re exercising or living in a hotter region to avoid dehydration.

The bottom line

Water is important to nearly every part of your body. Not only will hitting your daily recommended intake help you maintain your current state of being, it may even improve your overall health. Some ideas for how you can be sure you drink enough:

  • Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. This way, you can drink whenever the need strikes.
  • Keep track of your intake. Aim to take in optimum amounts every day.
  • Pace yourself to approach half of your recommended consumption by midday. You can always finish about an hour before you plan to sleep.