Did you know that you and I are mostly water?
The average male adult body is approximately 60% water, while the average female body is around 55% water. And our brains are over 70% water!
Yes, water - you can see right through it, you can’t taste it - we take it so much for granted. And yet water’s powers are extraordinary in the way it allows our bodies to function.
Even at a cellular level, one of the fundamental components of our cells is water. Water enables the cells to do their work in assisting the body and brain with its many functions and processes, transporting vitamins, minerals and chemicals more efficiently.
Too little water - or dehydration - can significantly impact upon the body and brain.
Often the body tries to signal to us that it is in need of water, but we don’t – or can’t -listen. The feeling of being thirsty is an indicator that we are already dehydrated! Also, on many occasions the feeling of hunger is actually an indicator that you are thirsty and not really hungry. The same part of your brain is responsible for interpreting hunger and thirst signals, which can result in mixed signals which the brain struggles to distinguish between the two different types of intake- solid food and liquids.
The amazing thing is that we would all be so much healthier if we all just drank a few extra glasses of water every day! Yes, it’s as simple as that!
So let’s look more closely at the many and powerful benefits of water.
Water lubricates your joints, which makes movement easier and less likely to be painful or stressful on the joints.
Water aids your digestion through assisting the production of saliva, which helps to break down your food within the digestive system, allowing more efficient extraction of nutrients from your food and carrying those around your body.
A good level of hydration, like drinking a glass of water before each meal, will help to ease the passage of food through your digestive system and protect against slowdowns in your food processing cycle.
Water flushes out waste products and toxins from your body, which can make you feel healthier.
Water helps your cells to function effectively, growing, replicating and working to keep you well.
Water also helps in carrying oxygen around the body.
Water also helps with regulation of the body, such as respiration, keeping necessarily moist areas lubricated and also during illness with temperature regulation through perspiration, when the body needs to cool.
That’s all impressive enough. But let’s come back to my earlier point about our brain being more than 70% water. Water is vital for your brain – it uses water to help to create hormones and neurotransmitters. The oxygen-carrying ability of water is vital to help the brain function at its best. Water helps to flush toxins and waste matter from our brains too. And here’s an important point - when the brain recognises that we are dehydrated, it panics – it starts to create more of the stress hormone cortisol, which you seriously do not want hanging around in your body, doing harm.
It’s even more important to up your water intake as you get older, because the older we get, the weaker our thirst response becomes – that why it’s important to help older friends and relatives remember to intake enough fluids.
Not all the water we consume is in a glass. Some of the water is contained in your food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables.
So how much is enough? It is suggested that men should aim to drink 3 litres a day, women just over 2 litres.
Isn’t this all a bit OTT I hear you ask? So what if we don’t drink enough water? Well, actually being just a little – even 1%- dehydrated can impact your performance. So here’s the risk. When we don’t intake enough water, we are at risk of feeling unwell- whether that is temperature, irritability, digestion problems, dry and itchy eyes, headaches, joint or muscle pain, and more, as well as poor cognitive functioning. Not where you want to be if you’ve got a busy life which already takes it out of you!
So in short, drinking water helps you avoid headaches, moods, constipation, joint pains, toxic waste, feeling sluggish, illness, bad chemical build-up, fuzzy thinking and much more. A few glasses of water help you and your body to feel better, work better and play better. So what are you waiting for? Drink up!
Water is good health - on tap!
Here are my three top tips to top up your H2O.
Drink water before, during and after exercise.
Have a glass of water before every meal (as a side benefit, this will help you feel fuller, so if you are looking to manage your weight, this helps).
Next time you get a mild headache, before reaching for the paracetamol, try drinking a couple of glasses of water- often your headache will disappear, without the need for pills.
Juan Carlos is a therapist and author with over 22 years' experience as a diagnostic scientist.
All blog entries are Copyright ©2019-2021 Juan Carlos Gouveia, except quotations and where stated.