Why Water Is So Important And How Much We Should Drink

Last updated on : September 19 2020

Hydrating drinks on a try

Why is hydration important?

Water is the source of life. We know the importance of water for our lives because a person can survive on water alone for 3-5 weeks, but a person receiving neither food nor water can last only a few days. 

The health of our brain, nervous system, heart, lungs, muscles, tissues, and more depend directly on the amount of water in the body.

For example, water aids in digestion by helping break down fats into fatty acids, proteins into amino acids, and starch into simple sugars. Without water, our digestive system would stop functioning. 

Water is also vital for regulating our body temperature, something we often don't realize. It does this through perspiration. If we did not sweat, then as little as 30 mins of exertion could easily see our body temperature rise to 45-47 degrees Celsius. A body temperature this high is deadly dangerous.

Additionally, water is essential for our skin, hair, and nails

What happens if we do not provide the body with enough water?

It is vital to maintain an adequate amount of water in our bodies.

If you drink less water than needed for several days or weeks, you'll experience the familiar symptoms of darker yellow urine, dryness in the mouth, lips, and eyes, and feeling thirsty.

However, other symptoms, including weakness, tiredness, low blood pressure, headaches, cold hands and feet, muscle cramps at night, joint pain, and gastrointestinal upset, would also occur. And you might not consider these a result of your lack of water. 

When we don't take in enough fluids and are dehydrated, the body borrows water from the blood and other organs to maintain it's vital functions, and in so doing, causes non-vital processes to falter.

If there is a water shortage in the body for a long time, it will ultimately lead to disease and death. 

Can I rely on my thirst for water needs?

The latest theories on thirst indicate that it is not a reliable indicator of your hydration needs and that when you start to feel thirsty, you could be as much as 1% to 2% dehydrated. 

As a result, it's better to drink before you start feeling thirsty. 

But do not ignore your thirst, trust it. Getting enough water is essential for your survival.  

What is the recommended amount of water we should drink each day?

The body of a newborn is roughly 80% water. The body of an adult - about 70%, and as one gets older, the amount of water drops to around 60%. At different ages, the human body consists of varying amounts of water.

The amount of water your body needs depends on many aspects: your age, health, diet, physical activity, and even the climate in which you live.

A common formula used to calculate the amount of water needed is 35 ml per kilogram of body weight. If you weigh 60kg, you need to drink at least 2.1 liters (60 kg x 35 ml = 2100 ml) per day. If you weigh 80 kg, then 2.8 litres (80 kg x 35 ml = 2800 ml) and so on.

Another calculation, widespread among the calorie counters, needs you to drink 1 ml of water for every calorie consumed. If you consume 2000 kcal per day, you should drink 2000 ml (2 liters) per day. If you consume 2500 kcal, then - 2.5 liters and so on.

However, even if you calculate the amount of water your body needs according to the formulas above. You still need to assess your situation.

For example, dry air in heated rooms or extreme cold may cause you to dehydrate faster. Under certain conditions, the body can evaporate more water than on a hot day.

On the other hand, if your diet is rich in hydrating food, you might need to drink less water on the day.

If you're active or playing sports, higher intensities may result in losing up to two liters of water per hour through sweat and heavy breathing. During this time, your body cannot recover the amount of water lost, no matter how much you drink.

The solution is to drink at least half a liter before you start your exercise. Preferably an hour or two before to give your body time to absorb it.  

Given the variability in requirements and factors that influence, it seems prudent and necessary to continually maintain the right amount of water in the body. Do this by drinking 4 to 6 cups a day for healthy people

How can I get more water from my diet?

You can significantly improve your levels of hydration by 

Choose to eat soup more often.

Eating soup is an excellent way to ensure your body has enough water to perform vital functions. According to British Nutrition Foundation research, on average, soups contain 80% water.

Also, the same study shows that food like soup is more filling than equivalent solid foods. The researchers state that eating soup as a main course will make you feel fuller faster than eating an equivalent solid food dish.

As a result, soup not only helps you to stay hydrated but also allows you to eat fewer calories. Don't forget to try cold soups as well.

Fill half your plate with vegetables.

Why? The answer is obvious: because vegetables are very hydrating.

The most water-rich vegetable is cucumber. It contains 96% water. Iceberg lettuce also has the same amount of water (96%). In comparison, other vegetables contain a bit less water. Radishes (95%), zucchini (94%), spinach (91%).

Most vegetables contain at least 80% water. And due to this fact, vegetables also do not have a large number of calories. As a result, vegetables are healthy and hydrating and perfect for your diet to lose fat quickly.

Eat fruit and berries.

An interesting scientific article, "Contribution of fruit and vegetable intake to hydration status in schoolchildren," was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

Three scientists examined 442 children's dietary records collected from 2000 to 2010. The study showed that regular fruit consumption has a direct effect on hydration status. Similar studies examining adults conducted by the University of Aberdeen Medical School, the University of Naples, and many more have confirmed the results.

The top 5 of the most hydrating fruits on the planet, according to WaterOnTop.com, are watermelon (92%), kiwi (85%), strawberries (91%), melon (90%), and blackberries (88%). Many fruit is also good for weight loss, in addition to being hydrating. 

If you are already tired of eating fruit, make some fruit ice cream. It only takes five minutes to make it and at least 20 or 30 more minutes to wait till they freeze.

Enjoy, but watch your overall fruit intake because the modern fruit today is high in sugar, and too much is not suitable for you. 

Drink more milk

Although vegans will not be happy with this suggestion, regularly consuming milk and dairy products can help you hydrate.

Research from Saint Andrew's University in Scotland says the fat, protein, and sugar in milk results in slower absorption, keeping you hydrated much longer. Similar studies at the University of Stirling, Loughborough, and Bangor confirm this benefit.

However, if you can't even look at a bottle of milk on a hot summer day, try discovering other alternatives like almond or soya milk. Just watch for the sugar content. 

Water from Coffee or Tea

Coffee and tea also count as water. Scientists have debunked the myth that coffee and tea are dehydrating. There is a diuretic effect of caffeine in these beverages, but this is not sufficient to offset the hydration benefits with moderate consumption. 

Coffee can also help uptick your metabolism and help you burn fat. So there are a number of benefits from drinking coffee. 

For even better results, drink decaffeinated tea or coffee or green tea, which is also high in antioxidants

The importance of plain water 

Although you can improve your hydration levels through what you eat, you must ensure adequate flat water intake.

According to research, we usually get less than 20% of our daily water intake from our standard diet. And even by eating fruits, vegetables, milk, and soup, we increase this only to around 40%.

So, it is necessary to drink water regularly.

However, ensure you drink clean flat water as your preference. Check your local tap water standard and drink it if you can. Otherwise, install a reverse osmosis filtration system at home, or get a water distiller if necessary.

If you don't like plain water, try adding lemon to it or develop a hydrating blend of water and a fruit concoction. Plain carbonated water is also hydrating and as good as plain flat water. 

Try to avoid buying bottled water as the plastics pollute the environment. Stay away from juices and sodas, as these beverages contain too much sugar.

And stay away from alcohol, which is a giant dehydrator. If you must drink alcohol, try to sip water throughout, on a one to one ratio. 

Summary

Water is crucial to our well being and, in fact, our life. When we suffer from a lack of water, we experience a range of symptoms as our body borrows water non-vital functions to support itself.  

We can increase our hydration levels by improving our diet; however, there is no substitute for drinking enough plain water, no matter how good our diet is. 

We should try to drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water a day to account for our needs. These needs can vary according to our age, level of activity, and climate. Don't wait until you feel thirsty, as thirst is not necessarily a good indicator of hydration levels, and you could be as much as 2% dehydrated by the time you feel thirsty.

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