You know you need water to survive, and drinking it regularly makes you feel better. But what does sipping H2O do to your body?
In short, a lot.
According to the US Geological Survey, about 60 percent of your body weight is water. Your body uses water in all of its cells, organs, and tissues to regulate temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, so it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.
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According to the Mayo Clinic, the amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors: The climate you live in, your level of physical activity, whether you have an illness or other health problems all affect the recommended intake.
Here’s why water is such a powerful element for your health.
- Water protects your tissues, spine and joints
Water does more than quench your thirst and regulate your body temperature; According to the Mayo Clinic System of Health, it keeps your body’s tissues hydrated. You know what it feels like when your eyes, nose, and mouth are dry? According to the US Geological Survey, keeping your body hydrated helps maintain optimal moisture levels in these sensitive areas, as well as in your blood, bones, and brain. In addition, water helps protect your spine and acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.
- Water helps remove waste from your body
Adequate water intake allows the body to eliminate waste through sweat, urination, and defecation. According to the National Kidney Foundation, water helps your kidneys remove waste products from your blood and keep the blood vessels that lead to your kidneys clean. The University of Rochester Medical Center points out that water is important for preventing constipation. However, research does not prove that increasing fluid intake will cure constipation, as many factors play a role.
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- Water helps digestion
Water is essential for healthy digestion. As the Mayo Clinic explains, water helps break down the food you eat and absorb its nutrients. After you drink, both your small and large intestines absorb the water, enter your bloodstream, and use it to break down nutrients. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, as your colon absorbs water, it changes from a thick liquid to a solid. According to MedlinePlus, you need water to absorb soluble fiber. With the help of water, this fiber turns into a gel, which slows down digestion and makes you feel fuller for longer.
- Water keeps you from getting dehydrated
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your body becomes dehydrated when you exercise vigorously, sweat in high temperatures, have a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you are dehydrated for any of these reasons, increasing your fluid intake is important to restore your body’s natural hydration levels. Your doctor may recommend drinking more fluids to treat other health conditions, such as bladder infections and urinary stones. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you may want to consult your doctor as your body will use more fluids than usual, especially while breastfeeding.
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- Water will optimize your brain function
Ever felt foggy? Drink a sip of water. Studies have shown that dehydration can reduce memory, focus, and energy. Not surprising given that H2O makes up 75 percent of the brain, the authors point out. One reason for this foggy feeling? “Electrolyte balance is important for your body to function optimally. Low electrolytes can cause problems like muscle weakness, fatigue, and confusion,” says Gabriel Lyon, M.D., a functional medicine physician in New York City.
- Water keeps your cardiovascular system healthy
Water is a huge part of your blood. (For example, plasma, or the pale yellow liquid part of your blood, is about 90 percent water, Britannica notes.) If you’re dehydrated, your blood becomes more concentrated and its electrolyte mineral (sodium) imbalances. and potassium, according to the Merck Manual), says Susan Bloom, MD, founder of Bloom Medical Center in Rye Brook, New York. These electrolytes are needed for proper muscle and heart function.
Dr. Blum says: “Dehydration can cause a drop in blood volume and blood pressure, so you can feel dizzy and pass out when you stand up.”
Actually,a 2023 study suggests that optimal hydration may actually slow the aging process in humans, partly due to these cardiovascular benefits, although researchers noted that more studies are needed to validate the findings.