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THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRINKING WATER
by Ross Melzer
With the human body composed of approximately 60% water, it’s easy to see why water is so essential to life. A human can survive for a long time without food, but without water, dehydration sets in quickly and death soon follows. Even mild dehydration on an ongoing basis can lead to serious illnesses from accumulation of deadly toxins.
Having insufficient amounts of water in the body prevents waste products from being flushed out of the cells, allowing them to build up until they reach toxic levels. High levels of toxins can lead to cancer, liver disease, arthritis, low energy and poor brain function. Mild dehydration alone can make you feel drained of energy, depressed and unmotivated. Dehydration can also lead to constipation, another potential source of cancer-causing toxins.
Water helps boost the immune system as well as dissolve minerals and other vital nutrients and carries them to the cells so they can be used by the body. It also regulates body temperature and helps lessen the strain on the liver and kidneys by flushing toxic substances out of the vital organs, helping to prevent deadly diseases such as cancer.
Water is a key component of saliva, necessary for keeping the mouth moist and also for creating a moist environment for the eyes, ears nose and throat. Adequate moisture in the body keeps the joints lubricated, preventing stiffness and improving mobility, easing the pain of arthritis and possibly even preventing some types of arthritis from occurring in the first place.
Water also helps fight premature aging. Properly hydrated skin retains its elasticity, keeping it smooth and youthful looking, preventing wrinkles from appearing. Healthy skin is more able to repair damage caused by free radicals such as air pollution, cigarette smoke and sunshine.
Getting enough water to drink isn’t very difficult. Most fruits and vegetables contain substantial amounts of water, and every fluid that you drink, including coffee, tea and alcohol are sources of water. Outside of the home, most offices and factories have water coolers to give employees a readily available water source.
How much water should you drink?
This leads to the important question of water intake.
We often hear that people need to drink eight 8 oz glasses of water every day to be healthy, but opinions differ about the accuracy of this rule. Because every person is different, everybody’s water needs are also different.
Your lifestyle and location greatly influence the amount of water that needs to be consumed on a daily basis. Active people and those who live in hot locations naturally require more water than people in cooler locations who lead a more sedate lifestyle.
Water consumption also relates to weight loss. Weight loss experts say that because hunger and thirst give off similar signals, people often eat when what they really need is a drink of water. People who are trying to lose weight are urged to drink more water, and to drink water when they feel hungry instead of reaching for a snack.
The human body loses approximately 2.5 litres (10.5 cups) of water per day through respiration, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. Therefore, this is approximately the amount of water that needs to be replaced. Someone who eats a healthy diet that includes moisture-rich fruits and vegetables may only need to consume about 2 litres of water to replace lost fluids. 2 litres is approximately 67 oz, which makes the 8x8 rule (64 oz) reasonably accurate.
Also, keep in mind that water is calorie-free and other drinks may contain high levels of sugar or artificial flavours, colours and other substances that can be unhealthy. Even diet drinks are unhealthy because they too contain these substances, and many of them contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener that has been linked to health problems.
The 8x8 rule
However, if you are concerned that you are not drinking enough water, or if you are trying to lose weight, adhering to the old 8x8 rule can’t hurt.
Can you drink too much water?
Is there truth to the fear of some people that you could die if you drink too much water? Although there is no simple answer to this question, it is unlikely that drinking too much water could really kill you. However, there is a certain condition known as water intoxication, which occurs when a person does drink too much water and his body does not have the proper sodium level that can work to balance his or her water intake. Medically termed as hyponatremia, this condition is associated more with the ratio between salt and water in the body than with a person’s water intake.
If you are also the kind of person who loves eating salty foods, then you could be at risk of contracting hyponatremia.
Consult Your Doctor
It is best to consult your doctor if you are concerned about the balance of sodium and water levels in your body, especially if you think you drink too much water. Your doctor will conduct some tests that will help ascertain the status of your water and sodium intake. If your doctor notes an imbalance that could possibly veer towards hyponatremia, you will be given instructions regarding adjustments you need to make with your lifestyle and your diet. This is so that any sodium intake deficiency can be compensated.
If you are still worried about whether you are drinking too much or too little water, you should ask your doctor how much water you as an individual should drink every day. Your doctor will calculate this, based predominantly on your weight.
TotallyDrinkable.com is an information site designed to help consumers better understand the role of water in their lives. From understanding the differences between bottled water and tap water, some of the health benefits of mineral water, why and how to filter water to offering suggestions as to how to improve your household water with water filter reviews.
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