The average adult body is composed of 60 per cent water. Water plays a role in virtually every body process and function, from serving as a building block of cells, to acting as a temperature regulator, to flushing toxins from the body.
We feel thirsty when osmoreceptors in the brain sense a reduction in cell volume in the body. These osmoreceptors are very sensitive, meaning that the deficit of water in the body is usually minimal upon a first pang of thirst. In fact, the onset of thirst may be a response of a reduction of only 1 per cent of overall body water.
How much water do we need to drink?
The exact amount of water is debated, however some experts recommend about 2 litres per day. This number changes based on your weight, activity level, and whether you live in a warmer climate. A revised daily intake recommendation is to drink between half an ounce to one ounce of water per each pound you weigh.
When it comes to water temperature, there is little evidence supporting that one temperature is better than another. Generally, there is no major difference between drinking cold water and warm water, except in helping regulate body temperature. Drinking cold water can help decrease the body temperature, such as after rigorous exercise, and warm or hot water can help warm up the body.
But is drinking water better than eating foods that have high water content?
Drinking excessive amounts of water, or overhydration, can lead to electrolyte imbalances by washing out potassium, magnesium, and sodium. While this is a rare occurrence, some health experts recommend that hydration be achieved by eating watery fruits and vegetables, allowing electrolytes to be maintained and meeting daily micro and macromineral intake while staying hydrated.
So, why is drinking adequate water one of the best and easiest ways to improve your health?
Below are the top reasons how drinking water can make you feel and look your best.
- Promotes weight loss. Drinking 500 mL of water before main meals may help in weight reduction. In a randomized controlled trial with 41 participants with obesity, the group that preloaded meals with water lost an average of 1.3 kg compared to those who did not drink water before meals. Drinking adequate water can also help control overeating and can act as a replacement for less healthy drinks, such as sodas or sugary juices.
- Enhances cognitive function. Some research supports that dehydration negatively affects cognitive function in adults. Drinking water may help improve speed of cognitive responding as well as improve certain aspects of mood, as demonstrated by a study in 2013.
- Supports digestion. Second to eating high quality food, drinking adequate water is the next most important factor for good digestion. Those who suffer from chronic constipation may not be drinking enough water. Eating more fibre can help relieve constipation, but it is important to drink lots of water with fibre because water softens the stool and helps propel food through the intestines.
- Enhance athletic performance. Fluid intake before, during, and after exercise is paramount for athletic performance. Inadequate fluid intake during exercise may lead to hindered temperature regulation, muscle cramps, dizziness, and other symptoms.
- Supports kidney function and detoxification. Chronic inadequate intake of water is a leading cause of kidney stone formation. Adequate fluid intake can help protect the kidney from developing kidney stones and reduce the likelihood of developing urinary tract infections. The colour of your urine is a good indication of your hydration levels. If your urine is light yellow or clear, this is a good sign that your body is well hydrated. If it dark yellow or amber, your body may be dehydrated.
- Benefits the skin. The skin is composed of 64 per cent water and is an outlet for toxins in the body. Little research has been conducted on the impacts of water consumption on the skin, however, drinking water has been found to increase blood flow to the skin and may help improve its thickness and density.