by Hannah Aylward: Our bodies are made up of anywhere from 50-70 percent water…
That’s a lot. While humans can go about three weeks without food, they can only go about four days without water (1). It is oneof the most important substances on Earth – all plants and animals need it to survive. Are you drinking enough of it?
Drinking more water is one of the simplest things we can do to positively impact our healthtoday. Here’s why:
Proper hydration helps keep our joints lubricated, body temperatures regulated, digestive systems working at top speed and toxins eliminated. Not drinking enough water can causesleepiness, sunken eyes, dry skin, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and breathing, and moremildly, headaches, irritability, and poorer physical and cognitive performance (2). Cellularrespiration, the series of metabolic reactions that transforms food nutrients into energy, actuallyrelies on water. Can you imagine what can happen if we don’t have enough of it?
Water is also a major component of the different fluids in the body – serous (anterior body cavities), synovial (joints), and cerebrospinal (brain and spine). These fluids cushion and protectour organs, joints, and brain fluid (3).
It is estimated that brain cells consist of 85 percent water. The brain requires more water than any other part of the body. Without enough water, the brain’s energy supply is decreased, which negatively affects many of its vital functions. This can lead to low energy, stress, depression, or even chronic fatigue (4). Some of the people that I work with aim to wean themselves off coffee. I always recommend that they drink a large glass of water as soon as they wake up beforereaching for the caffeine. Often times, they find that they don’t need the caffeine for the reason stated above — they were tired because they were dehydrated!
Water helps the body digest soluble fiber, which helps make well-formed, soft stools that are easy to pass. Just like not eating enough fiber, drinking too little water slows down ourdigestive system significantly. This leads to toxins floating around in our system longer than they should be. Although it is not so glamorous to discuss, elimination is one of the number one ways we rid unnecessary waste.
Water eases digestion, which in turn makes minerals and nutrients more accessible to the body. Once swallowed, food travels through the digestive tract by muscle contractions that depend on water. Next, the digestion of food in the stomach and small intestines is facilitated through hydrolysis reactions, which require the interaction of water and enzymes to turn large food molecules into smaller, more easily absorbed pieces.
SKIN AND BEAUTY
The skin is the body’s largest organ. Just like other parts of the body, is made up of cells that are made up of water. Without water, organs do not function at their best. If our skin is notgetting the sufficient amount of water, the skin can become dry, tight, and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling (5) — as if we needed another reason to drink up!
Water is essential for flushing the liver and kidneys which are the primary detox organs. Drinking enough water keeps our intestines smooth and flexible. As I mentioned earlier, water helps keep the food you eat moving through our intestines and then out of our bodies. The elimination of waste from cells and the colon is dependent upon the presence of water to move toxins out and to help keep stools soft (6). Without proper hydration, the body is more susceptible to allergensand infections, as it is unable to properly remove toxins.
Dehydration happens when we’ve lost too much water in our bodies without replacing it and prevents our bodies from performing normal functions. Mild dehydration can easily be treated, but if it reaches extreme levels, it can be life-threatening and will require immediate medicalattention. Don’t take this lightly. It has happened to me personally!
Dehydration can happen to anyone. However those at a higher risk include mountain climbers (due to the pressure in high altitude places), athletes involved in long-lasting exercise, elderly people and ill-stricken people.
HOW TO INCREASE YOUR WATER INTAKE
– Try carrying a large, glass water bottle around with you everywhere you go. Oftentimes, if we have it there, we’ll use it.
– Start every morning with a large glass of water and/or warm lemon water. It’s simple, easy and effective.
– Try flavoring your water with cucumber, mint, basil, lemon, lime, strawberries, or whatever you like! This can help spice it up a bit, so you don’t get bored.
– Mindfully recognize how you feel when you drink more water. This alone will make you want to continue the habit.
– You can also boost your H2O consumption from the foods you eat. Many fruits and vegetables have an extremely high water content, helping with hydration. Some of the top foods are cucumbers, zucchinis, tomatoes, watermelon, and strawberries, which are all over 90 percent water! They are also delicious.
– Leafy greens contain so many goods, including water. Get them in as many meals as you can, even breakfast! It’s easy to do with my morning smoothie recipe!