Water – The Basic, Neglected Nutrient

woman drinking water

We all know how important water is for health, but we tend to neglect this important nutrient. Water is the foundation of our health and well-being. Although most of us understand that we need to keep sipping water all day, it can become difficult to keep up with this habit and ensure, at the same time that we’re drinking enough for our needs. Water can resolve minor to major health concerns. Drinking a good amount of water daily is the simplest way to maintain health. Our naturopathic medicine doctor always asks patients how much water they drink daily and most of them reply that it is not enough. Since dehydration may go unnoticed most of the times, we encourage and recommend patients to closely monitor their water intake.

Interesting Facts About Water and its Relationship to the Human Body

  • 60 percent of human body is made up of water.
  • 90 percent of our lungs are water.
  • Surprisingly, 25 percent of human bones and 75 percent of muscles are made up of water.
  • Water makes up a little more than 80 percent of our blood.
  • The human brain is almost 80 percent water.
water in a glass

How does Our Body Use Water?

As more than half of our body is made up of water, we need water to maintain proper body functions. Maintaining a good proportion of fluids in the body helps with absorption of essential vitamins and minerals, circulation, digestion, nutrient transportation, body temperature maintenance and saliva generation.

Following are Some of the Essential Health Benefits of Water

Less Hunger

We tend to feel hungry if our body fluids are low and we mistaken thirst for hunger and end up eating. Our first step, when we feel hungry, is to try and drink some water. If hunger persists, then we can turn to food. By doing so, we are able to meet the body’s water requirements and also curb the extra calorie intake.

Stronger Muscles

Adequate hydration helps in maintaining the electrolyte balance in our body. This helps in muscle strengthening, flexibility and contraction. It is common to notice weakness and fatigue due to lack of water. We often think that muscle weakness is due to an imbalanced diet, but it is noticeable that when we increase water intake, our muscles start feeling stronger.

Better Skin

Hydration helps keep your skin healthy and moist while dehydration causes more lines, wrinkles and dryness. Blemishes and acne is more common if body is less hydrated as the body fights in order to detoxify but if there is adequate water intake, the detoxification process is well regulated.

Better Digestion

Good hydration assists in hydration as the intestine uses the water in the stools to maintain the liquid balance in the body. Constipation is a result of having less water for the digestive system to work with. Persistent constipation damages the digestive organs in the long term.

Better Brain Functioning

Hydration promotes better attention and focus. Dehydration can cause less blood supply and affects the ability to think at a good speed. That is the reason, we feel refreshed and have a reduction in headaches and migraines if we drink more water.

Better Kidney Function

Kidneys have to work very hard for the blood filtration process if there is less water to work with. Persistent dehydration can also cause kidney stones.

Pain Management

Why do trainers focus on water intake during and after exercise? So that we don’t injure our muscles and don’t suffer from cramps and pains later on. Good amount of fluids allow muscles to be flexible and move quickly.

But I Don’t Like the Taste of Water…

Almost everyone will want to taste the real plain water if they are extremely thirsty but if they’re told to keep sipping on water to increase water consumption, they say that water doesn’t taste good. At Gentle Wellness Center, many patients complain that they can’t just keep drinking plain water. We have found out that most people who complain about the taste of water are so used to sipping on coffees, sodas and other sweetened beverages, that they cannot just drink plain water. For such patients, we recommend adding a lemon or a piece of fruit like strawberry in their water bottles. Today, there are many flavored waters that claim to be zero sugar, but they may have other artificial flavors and additions. It is best to adopt a habit of sipping on plain water and not relying on any of the sweetened or flavored waters, not matter what the companies claim.

How to Increase Water Intake?

Forming any healthy habit is hard. Sometimes, your lifestyle is not suited to sipping on water throughout the day. Some people may have jobs that do not let them sit around with a water bottle, some people may be all the time standing and with other people and may forget to drink water. We recommend carrying a bottle everywhere with you, so that even if you forget for the time being, your bottle sort of reminds you that you need to drink water. It is not just important to drink adequate amount of water, but its also important to drink water correctly. It’s also very hard for most people to drink room temperature or warm water. Research has proved that warm and room temperature water is more beneficial than cold water and cold or iced water can actually be harmful for digestion. Therefore, we recommend starting out with less cold water and slowly move to drinking only room temperature water. Glass and stainless-steel bottles are the best options as they do not allow chemicals to pass into the water and can stay safe even when it’s sunny. Plastic bottles can leach chemicals in the water if they get heated up. If you have to use a plastic bottle, it should be BPA free.

How Much Water Should I Drink Per Day?

Historically, it was recommended by health experts and organizations that if a glass contains 8 ounces, one should consume 8 such glasses in a day. This is a good guideline to follow in general. However, newer medical and nutrition research argues that there cannot be a one size fits all approach for how much water a person needs to drink, because people have different levels of physical activity and they also weight differently. Moreover, depending on the health condition, some people may need to drink more or less water. For example, breastfeeding moms and people who live in warmer and humid regions need a lot more water than others.

There are many new methods of calculation for understanding how much water a person needs in a day. Some go by the gender and age. For example, it is recommended that women and kids have to drink more water than men. Some newer recommendations are dependent on the weight. For example, you should drink half to 75 percent of your weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should drink 60-90 ounces of water. If you are physically active, it should be towards the higher range. There are also other theories that suggest drinking 2/3rds or 67 percent of your body weight and more, depending on your physical activity and geographical area. You can also tell that you need to drink more water if you notice that your urine is darker.

Staying hydrated correctly is extremely important for maintaining good health. Call us at 703-436-1512 to get consultation about nutrition and naturopathic medicine.