Thirst for Knowledge: Importance of Hydration
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Did you know that the human body consists of 60% water?
Adequate hydration is an important element of a healthy lifestyle and diet. Maintaining a sufficient intake of fluids ensures the smooth operation of all bodily functions. Staying hydrated entails drinking water and other fluids whenever thirst signals the body’s needs. While some may find 8 glasses of water sufficient, others may require more to stay hydrated1
Some health benefits of water
- Regulates body temperature
Water stabilizes body temperature by absorbing and transferring heat. Water has a high heat capacity, which means it can absorb a lot of heat before its temperature changes significantly. This makes water an effective buffer against sudden temperature fluctuations. The water in every cell of the human body acts as a buffer against external and internal heat sources. Water also transfers heat well, which means it can distribute heat evenly throughout the body and prevent hot spots or cold spots.2
- Keeps joints lubricated
Water helps create synovial fluid, a thin layer of fluid that cushions and delivers nutrition to your joints. Synovial fluid also reduces friction when you move your joints3
- Delivers nutrients to cells
The nutrients commonly associated with hydration are electrolytes. Electrolytes are compounds that dissociate into positively or negatively charged ions when they dissolve in water. Among the various electrolytes, examples include sodium, potassium, and chloride. These electrolytes collaborate to establish communication pathways within our bodies, facilitating processes like the transmission of nerve signals and the contraction of muscles. Sodium and chloride are present in the fluid surrounding our cells, while potassium is found within our cells. Chloride collaborates with salt to transport chemicals into and out of cells.
- Keeps organs functioning properly
When your body lacks sufficient fluids, essential processes like circulation can become less efficient, causing your organs to receive inadequate nutrients, leading to suboptimal performance.
- Enhances sleep quality
Hydration can support the body’s circadian rhythm, which is the natural cycle of sleeping and waking. The circadian rhythm influences the production of vasopressin, a hormone that helps retain water and prevent dehydration during sleep. If sleep is disrupted or insufficient, this hormonal balance may be affected, leading to a lower hydration status7
- Enhances cognitive functioning
The brain is composed of around 85% water. Water provides energy to the brain, including cognition and memory functions; it is also required in the brain for the creation of hormones and neurotransmitters. Because the brain cannot store water and you are continually losing water through perspiration and other body functions, it is critical that you are hydrated at all times. When your brain has a total supply of water, you will be able to think faster, focus more clearly, and experience better clarity. Research indicates that even minor dehydration, corresponding to a loss of 1–3% of body weight, can have adverse effects on various aspects of cognitive function2
- Improves your overall mood
Dehydration has the potential to influence your mood. Inadequate water intake can leave you feeling fatigued, irritable, or even cranky.2
- Improves digestion
Water aids in the breakdown of food, allowing nutrients to be absorbed by your body. Both your small and large intestines absorb water, which enters your bloodstream and is utilized to break down nutrients. With the help of water, this fiber turns into gel and slows digestion, contributing to a longer-lasting sense of fullness.4
How does the body maintain fluid balance?
The body seeks to maintain a steady state of physiological balance, a condition referred to as homeostasis. When the body detects an imbalance in its fluid levels, such as a deficit, it initiates a mechanism to redistribute water from within our cells to the extracellular space to restore equilibrium. If the body senses an excess of hydration, it employs a contrasting approach, with the kidneys aiding in the removal of surplus water. The kidneys assume a pivotal role in upholding the body’s fluid balance, producing concentrated urine during periods of dehydration to preserve precious water resources6
Tips to increase water intake
- Drink a glass of water before you leave the house.
- Always have some water with you when you are working. If it is there, you will drink it.
- Enhance your water by adding natural flavors like lemon, lime, mint, berries, basil, rosemary, and cucumber, or carbonating it.
- Prioritize drinking water in warm weather and when you are physically active.
- Drink a glass of water before, during, and after every meal.
- Listen to your body’s thirst cues. Make sure not to mistake thirst for
- Always drink clean and safe water.
- Use safe, eco-friendly containers: glass, PET-free, BPA-free, recyclable, and reusable. Make sure to wash reusable water bottles frequently.
So, what is the takeaway message?
Adequate hydration is integral to overall health, with water playing a crucial role in various bodily functions. Beyond mere thirst quenching, water regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, delivers nutrients to cells, ensures organ efficiency, and supports cognitive functions and quality sleep. Recognizing the numerous health benefits of proper hydration, including improved mood and digestion, emphasizes the necessity of maintaining fluid balance. Incorporating simple habits like drinking water before leaving the house, having water readily available, and infusing natural flavors can contribute to a healthier lifestyle. Prioritizing water intake in warm weather, during physical activity, and around meal times, while listening to the body’s thirst cues, enhances hydration. Using safe and eco-friendly containers further underscores the importance of maintaining hydration for overall well-being.
Water is as essential to life as oxygen. This humble drink contributes greatly to all aspects of health and is sometimes easily forgotten. Maintaining proper hydration is critical to our overall well-being. Water is one of the primary nutrients required for survival and optimal bodily functioning. It is the only wholly energy-free consumable, a freebie for you to enjoy as much as possible.
- Harvard.edu, 2017. The importance of hydration Available here. Date Accessed: August 31, 2023
- Alex Silbajoris, 2018. How Does Water Stabilize Temperature? Available here. Date Accessed August 31, 2023
- Eric Suni, Dr. Abhinav Singh, 2023. Hydration and Sleep. Available here. Date Accessed August 31, 2023
- Dr. Fayaz. How Dehydration Affects Your Brain. Available here. Date Accessed August 31, 2023
- Jessica. M. 2023. 7 Health Benefits of Water Backed by Scientific Research. Available here. Date Accessed: August 31, 2023