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7 Health Benefits of Water Backed by Scientific Research
The human body weight is about 60 per cent water and our body uses water in all its cells, organs and tissues. Water regulates body temperature and maintains other bodily functions. It's extremely important to hydrate our body by drinking water as our body loses water through sweating, digestion and breathing.
The benefits of drinking water include preventing joint pain, constipation and dehydration. Moreover, it helps in digestion, removal of waste, optimal brain functioning, maintaining the cardiovascular system’s health, maximizes physical performance and weight management.
Here are the seven health benefits of water backed by scientific research.
Helps in Digestion
Water is an essential factor in healthy digestion. It breaks down the food we eat and allows the nutrients to be absorbed by the body. After we drink water, our large and small intestines absorb water which is taken into the bloodstream and used to break down nutrients.
When our large intestine absorbs water, stool changes from liquid to solid. Furthermore, water is required to help in the digestion of soluble fibre.
Water aids our kidneys to remove waste from the blood and keep the blood vessels open. Adequate water intake helps our body to excrete waste through urination, defecation as well as perspiration. Constipation is one of the common health problems characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty in passing stool.
Low water consumption is a major factor that may cause constipation. Drinking ample water may help prevent and lessen constipation. Additionally, higher fluid intake increases the volume of urine passing through the kidneys and may prevent the formation of urine stones.
Protects Joints, Tissues and Spinal Cord
Water keeps the tissues in our body moist. Also, it helps protect the spinal cord as it acts as a lubricant and cushion for the joints. Keeping our body hydrated can help in retaining optimum levels of moisture in sensitive areas like tissues and joints along with blood, bones and the brain. The synovial fluid reduces friction in joint cartilage and this fluid is made of water. Less fluid in joints may result in friction, increase inflammation and worsen joint pain.
Our body loses fluids when we engage in physical activities like exercise. We also lose fluid when we sweat or experience any illness like vomiting, diarrhoea or fever. Increasing our fluid intake can rehydrate our body and restore the body's natural hydration level. Drinking adequate water may help in treating health conditions like bladder infections and urinary tract stones.
Dehydration can also lower blood volume and blood pressure which may make you dizzy or light-headed. Dehydration can also restrict the body from producing enough sweat thereby affecting the body temperature. Keeping your body hydrated can regulate body temperature and minimize the risk of heat-related illnesses like heatstroke. In addition to this, if you are pregnant, nursing or breastfeeding, your body may use more fluids than usual. In this case, consult your physician to know the exact fluid intake.
Helps with Brain Functioning
Our brain is made up of 75 per cent of water. It sends electrical signals across nerves and without adequate water and electrolyte levels, our body's cells won't receive those signals. Low water consumption may alter our brain's functioning and may lead to fatigue, trouble focusing, loss of short-term memory, confusion and decreased retention time. Moreover, mild dehydration can impair our mood and concentration. This may increase the frequency of headaches.
Maintains the Cardiovascular System
Water is an intrinsic part of our blood as almost 90 per cent of plasma in our blood is made of water. If the body is dehydrated, the blood may become more concentrated and this may cause an imbalance of the electrolyte minerals such as sodium and potassium. Electrolytes play a crucial role in the functioning of the cardiovascular system and hence, one must consume an appropriate amount of water to prevent the body from dehydration.
Helps in Weight Loss
Water may also help in weight loss as water may help fill you up, especially if you drink it before your meal. According to a study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics in February 2016, researchers stated that people who consume more water a day consume few calories and less saturated fat, sodium, sugar and cholesterol. Water can increase satiety and boost metabolism which increases the number of calories we burn daily.
Inadequate water intake can reduce athletic performance and this makes exercising difficult. When we exercise for weight loss or to maintain our health, our body loses sweat and if we don't drink water, we may experience dehydration. Also, decreased athletic performance can be a result of decreased muscle endurance and strength which is caused due to dehydration. To prevent dehydration a person can drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before starting exercise and 8 ounces of water half an hour before beginning the exercise. This will also ensure weight loss along with improving athletic performance.
Water helps in keeping our skin lubricated and supple. When the skin has normal elasticity, it can snap back to its normal position, when it’s pinched. However, dehydrated skin may take more time to return to its normal position. This happens because skin cells become less elastic and shrivelled when they lose water. It also results in wrinkles and creases on the skin. A combination of a healthy diet and increased water consumption can ensure healthy skin.
Alcohol is a diuretic which can make you lose more water than you consume. This can also cause dehydration. Also, a good way to reduce symptoms of a hangover like a thirst, fatigue, headache and dry mouth, drinking water can be beneficial. Dehydration can also trigger migraine or headaches. Drinking an adequate amount of water may help reduce headache symptoms and decrease headache frequency.
How Much Water Do You Need?
The amount of water our body requires depends on factors like climate, physical activities and health conditions. According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, ideally, adult males should drink about 3.7 litres of water a day and adult females should drink 2.7 litres of water.
The Urine Colour Test can help you evaluate how much water you are consuming. After going to the bathroom, check the colour of your urine. If the colour is pale yellow to light yellow, you are well hydrated. However, if the colour is darker yellow, it is a sign of dehydration.
These quantities are a general recommendation. One must also take care that water consumption is not too much. This can cause an electrolyte imbalance which may lead to a fatal medical condition known as hyponatremia. Overhydration may occur in athletes who drink water without electrolytes. Some of the common symptoms of overhydration are nausea, feeling of discomfort, lethargy, confusion and headache. To prevent overhydration, drink two to four cups of fluid per hour and make sure it has electrolytes.
Water is required to perform bodily functions and drinking adequate water can improve health. The amount of water needed by every person varies and hence the water intake should be according to climate, physical activities and health conditions if any.
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