Water, Hydration, and Your Health – A Science-Based Perspective

How many days can a human survive without water? Not many. Water is life, and we all know that. It is one of the first words that a child learns. Years of acquaintance with this word and most individuals still remain oblivious to the health benefits of drinking water.

Today, take some time out to learn why they say that water is important for health.

First, what happens if we don’t drink enough water?

It leads to dehydration that screams through fatigue, headache, low blood pressure, thumping feeling in the chest, dull skin, acne issues, muscle cramps, mood changes, cognitive decline, and kidney stones. Prolong the dehydration phase, and there come complicated issues like organ failure.

Health benefits of drinking water

Out of 30-40 trillion cells in a human body, every single cell needs water to maintain temperature and other functions that are essential to life. The science behind the working of water molecules as important regulators of cell functions is out of the scope of this article.

Water and health benefits

Mentioned below are the six science-based health benefits of water.

Drinking water keeps the fluid balance

Do you know that water is more than half of what the weight machine tells you?

Yes, 75 percent body weight of an infant is water, and it decreases to 55 percent in the elderly.

On average, the human body is almost 60 percent composed of body fluids.  These fluids have multiple functions including

  • Digestion
  • Absorption
  • Circulation

Water also helps in the maintenance of body temperature, transport of nutrients, the creation of saliva, lubrication of joints, and the protection of body tissues.

Hence, you can well imagine how the functioning of your body can be affected due to an imbalance of body fluids. Water keeps this balance, and also helps your body to get rid of waste products.

Drinking water improves your physical performance

The physical performance of a human body is directly related to how well the muscles work. If there is low fluid in the muscle cells, they fail to function their best. At the same time, physical activities like exercise cause more fluid loss through sweating.

According to guidelines by American College of Sports Medicine, one should drink 17 ounces of fluid 2 hours before starting the exercise and should keep drinking at regular intervals during exercise. Replacing the fluid lost through perspiration is essential.

Drinking water controls your calories

Water has zero calories. It is an old saying that you should drink more water if you are on a diet. Weight loss is not a direct result of adequate water intake, but by substituting high caloric food with water, you are cutting down on the total calories.

Similarly, people who are on a diet usually consume water-rich diet, i.e., soup, fresh vegetables, and fruits. More water content in these foods makes you feel full and it gets easier to control frequent bouts of eating unhealthy food.

Drinking water benefits the skin

Your skin acts as a protective barrier. It prevents the loss of fluids, whereas dehydration makes your skin dry and wrinkled. Taking adequate water can prevent that.

There is a popular belief that excessive water consumption will help eliminate skin problems, but when you have enough water, your kidneys eliminate the excess. So, consume water that is enough to meet your daily requirements. Overhydration is not good.

Drinking water helps to eliminate toxins

There are two bean-shaped organs in your abdomen that work each day to filter blood and eliminate waste, toxins and extra fluid. Yet, when you do not consume enough water, kidneys produce little urine preserving the fluid for body use.

There’s a simple thing you can do to see if your fluid intake is sufficient. Check for the color, odor, and quantity of urine. If it is light in color and has no odor, you are going well. Also, urine needs to flow freely.

On the other hand, when you do not take adequate liquid, urine concentrates and produces dark color with some odor.

Drinking water prevents constipation

If there is not enough water, the colon gets some of it by pulling water from stools. It results in constipation that is difficulty in passing stool. Drinking enough water can prevent and relieve constipation. If, however, the cause of your constipation is other than poor hydration, drinking water will not suffice.

water and health benefits

High-water foods to consider

If plain water doesn’t attract you much, you can try some foods that have high water content. Here’s a list:

Watermelon

It has 92 percent water content. One can get 118ml of water from 154-grams of watermelon.

In addition to water, you also get to benefit from fiber, magnesium, vitamin A and C that is found in watermelons. It’s a good choice if you are looking to reap the health benefits of water with some great taste and low calories.

Here are some delicious ways to eat watermelons:

  • Watermelon and lime juice
  • Slices of watermelon with lemon and mint
  • Watermelon popsicles
  • Watermelon salad with other fruits

Cantaloupe  

It is 90 percent water, and 117 grams of this melon has more than 118ml of water. Cantaloupe is also a rich source of vitamin A and fiber.

Other than a freshly sliced form of cantaloupe, you can try these other forms as well:

  • Cantaloupe with cucumber, basil, onions, and mozzarella
  • Hot cantaloupe soup
  • Cantaloupe with mint, lime, ginger, and cucumber
  • Ginger cantaloupe cocktails

Strawberries

Almost 91 percent of the strawberry content is water. You can easily add this nutritious berry in your diet to fulfill your daily water intake goals.

Strawberries are high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, folate, and manganese. Use strawberries in your salad or blend them into a smoothie.

Try some of these strawberry dishes:

  • Orange, kiwi, and strawberry salad
  • Strawberries with yogurt
  • Cinnamon-glazed strawberries
  • Banana and strawberry smoothie
  • Strawberry romaine salad

Cucumbers

They contain 95 percent of fluid and are super easy to add to your diet. Cucumbers are mostly used as salads. Try these delectable ways of eating cucumbers:

  • Chicken and pickled cucumber sandwich
  • Honeydew, mint, and cucumber cooler
  • Peach and cucumber salad
  • Strawberry cucumber salad with lemon cream
  • Cucumber lime popsicles

Orange

Oranges are 88 percent water. They are an excellent source of antioxidants and fibers.

Eating orange in raw form or as orange juice is a great way to reap the health benefits of water.

Also try

  • Olive topped orange slices
  • Root-vegetable soup with orange and ginger
  • Orange and parsley salad
  • Green salad with citrus dressing

Peach

The water content in peach is around 90 percent. It is a low caloric fruit with just 60 calories in a medium-sized peach.

Grab a peach, cut it nice, and simply eat, or turn your peach into one of these delicious foods:

  • Peach and crab salad
  • Spicy peach and avocado salad
  • Peach raspberry lemonade
  • Peach banana smoothie popsicle
  • Ginger peach margarita

Skim milk

With 91 percent water content, skimmed milk provides a good alternative to fulfill the water intake needs. There are 100s of recipes that you can try with skimmed milk.

Soup

It is almost entirely composed of water and is a great way to get nutrients along with its hydration benefits.

Winter is the best season to go for broths and soup.

Especially relevant here are some basic soups that you can easily cook.

  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Cream soup
  • Bean and pea soups
  • Beef soup
  • Chicken soup
  • Lentil and ham soup

Lettuce

It has 96 percent water content and makes an almost necessary part of different salads. When you are not in a mood for drinking plain water, you can try making some salad that has lettuce in it.

Also try

  • Chicken wrapped in lettuce
  • Turkey lettuce wraps with honey mustard dip

Maybe you are looking for some more water-rich foods. Here’s more to the list.

Yogurt, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes, grapefruit, and coconut water are also outstanding foods that have higher water content. Whenever you need a treat for your taste buds, you can try these water-rich foods in different recipes.

How much water should you take daily? 

You would often come across the 8×8 rule for drinking water. It says that you need to have eight 8-ounce glasses of water to fulfill your daily water requirements. However, this old suggestion is not backed up by science. Since we acquire water through food, drinking water, and other liquids, one cannot say that without following the 8×8 rule, we are deficient in our water intake.

The food and nutrition board recommends an average of 2.7 liters of fluid intake for women and 3.7 liters for men. This amount includes the daily total water intake of an individual, be it from food, beverages, or plain water. So, the 8×8 rule doesn’t make sense all the time.

Note that there are certain conditions where your body needs more water than otherwise.

Some of these conditions are intense physical activity, hot climates, and medical issues like fever, diarrhea, and vomiting.

A word about other forms of water

In addition to plain water, people consume some other types of water that come with certain health claims. However, most of these claims are either false or there is very little evidence of their truth. Here’s some infomation on different kinds of water:

Detox Water

There have been claims that detox water eliminates toxins, but it is all just hype. Your body has all the systems required to eliminate toxins, and detox water does NOT help with that.

They also say that it helps lose weight. It probably will, after all, you are consuming huge jars of fancy looking water, and that doesn’t leave much space for high caloric food. However, in the end, you are going to gain back those lost pounds.

If you find plain water boring and use detox water for taste, then that is fine. However, do not step in the bracket where there can be chances of overhydration.

It is better to eat a healthy diet and drink adequate water to keep from dehydration.

P.S. there are certain health conditions, such as diabetes, where detox water can actually be harmful.  

Distilled water

It is made from steam which is later condensed into water. Free of impurities and minerals, distilled water is typically used in hospitals, cars, laboratories, and aquariums.

Drinking distilled water is your personal choice. Currently, there is no evidence if it is better than other water types.

Warm Water

Many people with holistic approach consume warm water first thing in the morning. They are right in doing so because warm water has specific benefits. Warm water:

  • Soothes a sore throat.
  • Relieves nasal congestion
  • Relieves constipation
  • Improves circulation
  • Benefits the digestion

Just be careful if you are a warm water drinker. The water should not be hot; a temperature between 120° and 140° Fahrenheit is acceptable.

Lemon Water

Many people like to start their day with a glass of lemon water instead of tea or coffee. However, we need more research work to find out about the health benefits of lemon water.

Whatever little research exists, it does prove that lemon water has the following health benefits:

  • It is good for hydration.
  • Vitamin C in lemon water reduces the risks of diseases such as stroke, low blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
  • It is good for your skin.
  • Weight gained from the high-fat diet can be reduced significantly with the use of lemon water.
  • Lemon water aids in digestion. However, some people may get heartburn. If you experience this, avoid frequent consumption of lemon water.

Conclusion

Most of all, they say that life is nothing without love, but the poet, W. H. Auden, has a logical conclusion. He says,

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.

So, Auden was right. Water is an essential component of our diet. There are numerous ways to consume water. If the plain water looks boring, there are other ways to reap the health benefits of water and keep your body hydrated. You can go for smoothies, milkshakes, fruits, and vegetables that are high in water content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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