Although most people don’t think of it as a nutrient, water is the most vital nutrient in your daily diet. Think of it this way. You can go for weeks without food but you can only go for a few days without water. So it’s very important. It’s even more important when you realize that your body’s composition is 60 to 75% water. So roughly two thirds of our body weight is water. You can break them down even better by looking at the composition of different body parts. Your blood is 83% water; your muscles are about 75% water; your bones are about 23% water; and your brain is 74% water.
You can see why it’s really necessary to drink enough water. It doesn’t take much dehydration at all to cause problems in your body. You can have as little as 1 or 2% loss of body weight in water and the reaction can be that your energy is sapped and you feel tired.
Not getting enough water can cause other problems such as mild to excessive thirst, fatigue (which we just covered), headaches, dry mouth, muscle weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, and little or no urination. So it’s important to make sure that you drink enough water. A lot of people have asked “How much water is enough water?” The basic rule of thumb is to take in about half your body weight converted into fluid ounces. So if a person weighs 200 lbs., they should be drinking 100 fluid ounces of water per day.
About 20% of your daily water intake can come from food. If you eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, there’s going to be a lot of water in them. This is particularly true in things like watermelon and citrus fruit are almost 100% water when you figure it out by weight. Beverages like milk and juice are primarily water too.
A lot of people ask me “What about beer, wine, coffee, tea, and soft drinks? Can these drinks be figured into your water intake?” unfortunately, these drinks are all diuretics and will actually leach the water out of your system. So water is still your best bet.
Now that I’ve given you some of the downside of not drinking enough water, here are some of the benefits. Water works in every system of the body.
It aids your digestion; it helps you absorb all your foods; it acts as the transport system for all the nutrients in the bloodstream. Water is necessary for all functions particularly circulation and excretion. For example, you actually blow off water in your breath each time you exhale. Water leaves your system not just to your urine but also through your feces, your sweat, and through respiration. You lose water daily so it’s extremely important to keep putting the water back in.
Water helps you to maintain your body temperature; it does this through the process of sweating and by the opening up of the capillaries in the circulatory system allowing the skin surface to have the proper blood flow that helps to regulate the body temperature. One of the biggest things the water does is cleansing. Water helps flush the toxins out of your system. It helps keep your kidneys healthy; helps keep your bladder healthy; it gives you better skin because it helps flush out the waste including dead skin cells.
Drinking enough water gives you a decreased chance of kidney stones or urinary tract infections. It can give you more energy because dehydration is one of the biggest causes of fatigue. Not drinking enough water drops your blood volume which makes the heart work harder and you just get more tired, more quickly.
Another thing the water does is revving up your metabolism. There was a study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism from a research center in Berlin. It showed that people who consume two liters of water a day can burn up to an extra 150 calories per day. I know that doesn’t seem like much but that converts into about 5 lbs. per year of weight loss that you don’t even have to worry about because it’s being burned off by simply drinking more water.
It was also discovered during the study that when a person drank water their metabolic rate went up within 10 minutes. The researchers think that about 40% of the raised metabolic rate had to do with the fact that the body was warming up the water that the person had drank. That’s one good reason to drink water that’s cold. Another good reason for drinking cold water is that it enters your system more rapidly than warm water.
Water also help suppress your appetite. It helps keep you feeling more full while it helps the body metabolize stored fat. According to studies, if you decrease your water intake, you can actually cause more fat to be deposited. Likewise, if you increase your water intake, you will decrease your existing fat deposits.
Here’s the reason it works that way. Your kidneys can’t work properly if you don’t give the body of water. When the kidneys don’t work properly, some of the load that is usually done by the kidneys gets put off on the liver.
The liver’s biggest function is to metabolize the stored fat and to convert that stored fat into usable energy for your body. If the liver has to do some of the kidneys’ job, it obviously will not be able to work at full capacity. What ends up happening? The liver can’t metabolize as much fat so more fat ends up getting stored in your body. Because water is so vital in metabolizing fat, it’s a key factor in losing weight. Weight loss is increased by the revved up metabolism supplied by drinking enough water. With this in mind, an overweight person actually needs to drink more water than a thin person. That’s because the more you weigh, the higher your metabolic load is.
Since we know the water does help metabolize the fat and that an overweight person as more fat metabolize, it’s easy to see that overweight person needs to drink more water. In fact, they should drink one extra glass of water for every 25 lbs. of extra weight that they’re carrying.
Water also helps maintain your muscle tone. Since the muscles are over 75% water, it helps give the muscles the ability to contract, prevents dehydration within the muscles, and prevents the soreness.
It also helps prevent sagging skin. This happens because as water is flushing out the toxins, the shrinking cells are actually buoyed up by the water giving it a clean, healthy cell structure. It does this by clearing out all the toxins in the cells.
Water is a universal solvent; water is a cleanser that we use all the time for cleaning our dishes, cleaning our clothes, and cleaning our cars. It does make sense that we should use it to clean our bodies as well.
During weight loss, if you’re working on that, your body will be dumping a whole lot of toxic waste into your system as it burns off the stored fat. You’ll need to drink more water to help flush out all those toxins and to prevent you from feeling anything uncomfortable from the detoxification. So water helps get rid of the waste and flushes it out fast.
Speaking of getting rid of waste, water also helps relieve constipation. When the body doesn’t get enough water, the first place it goes to get water is the lower intestines. What happens then is that you become constipated due to lack of water. If the same person drinks enough water, the bowel movements return. Since we are talking about excretions and eliminating waste, a good way to tell if you’re drinking enough water is the color of your urine. If it’s a dark orangey color or like the color of apple juice, you’re not drinking enough water. The color of your urine should be more like lemonade. If your urine is clear like water, that’s even better. That way you know that you are fully hydrated.
When you finally get to the point where you are fully hydrated, all of your systems are going to work better. There won’t be any fluid retention because your body only retains fluid when it thinks that it is running short on fluid. So when you get enough water, the fluid retention will stop, your stored fat cells will be used as fuel, the liver will be freed up to do the work that it is supposed to be doing, there won’t be as much stress placed on your kidneys, your regular thirst will return, and there won’t be as much hunger.
Some people have asked about sources of water other than fruits and vegetables. Tap Water is not all that good to drink. A study done by Tufts University on tap water in different parts of United States showed contamination ranging from E. coli to pharmacy drugs. That’s not unusual when you think that roughly 80% of all medications that people take is eliminated in their urine or feces. Currently, there are no wastewater treatment facilities that have pharmaceutical screens to filter out and clean the water before sending it back out into the community for use. The biggest concentration of a drug was found to be the cholesterol reducing drugs like Lipitor. The second largest concentration was hormone replacement drugs like Premarin and birth-control pills. So all of these things can be found in your tapwater.
It’s best to get your own filters for your home. There are several different types of water filters available including reverse osmosis and charcoal filtering.
Bottled water is another way to go. Try to stay away from plastic bottles because of the plastic can leach into the water over time. Bottled waters will have an expiration date. This is done to reduce the risk of any plastic being in the water if it were stored for a long period of time or in a heated environment. The plastic contains neurotoxins that can attack the nervous system and reproductive system. Try to get your water in glass if possible.
Alkaline water is the best of all for you. It’s important that the body be kept at a more alkaline pH because studies have shown that the more acidic a body is, the more prone it is to disease, particularly cancer. Try to keep your body’s pH at 7. This can be measured by your urine; it should also have a 7 pH which will be that very clear color that I spoke about earlier. By the way, the pH of water is 7. The majority of people the United States have acidic bodies directly caused by their high consumption of meat and generally poor diets that contain foods that will cause the body to be acidic. For example, soft drinks contain phosphoric acid which will cause the body to become acidic.
To sum it up, drink plenty of water and try to get it in a glass container.