For being comprised of 98% water – it’s alarming how few of us truly understand the real importance of hydration.
Now. While the “98%” saying is an exaggeration (the actual figure is somewhere between 60 – 70%1), the fact is that there are few things as important to your health as proper hydration.
But why is hydration so important? And what exactly does water do in the body?
Let’s find out.
The Importance of Hydration
It is a fact that our bodies are mostly made of water – and that water is way more important than you might have ever thought.
Water helps our bodies function in several critically-important ways…
And without sounding too morbid…you’d be dead without it in just a few days! (further underscoring the importance of hydration!)
It is surprising how little most people know about the wonders of hydration, and how important it is for our overall health (not to mention our skin health.)
Here is a little breakdown on why hydration is so crucial to our optimal health.
What Does Water Do in Your Body?
One of the first ways that primitive human-beings used water, was as a mode of transportation, via canals.
They dug canals (and we thought our desk jobs were hard!), and created a raft system to transport food and other goods from on place to another.
To this day, our modern world requires maritime transport, or transportation via water to function. (Although what a mess it is right now with all those cargo ships back-logged in Southern California!)
In a similar way, our bodies uses water as a carrier, or medium of exchange2, to perform many key functions in the body.
Here are some of the most important functions that water performs in our bodies:
- Carries nutrients in, and out of the cells
- Lubricates joints
- Regulates body temperature
- Ensures the proper functioning of your vital organs
As you can see – staying hydrated is of the utmost importance.
When we don’t, dehydration can wreak havoc.
What is Dehydration?
Unfortunately, you can’t talk about hydration without sharing the unfortunate side of what happens when you aren’t hydrated enough.
What happens is called ‘dehydration’ – hydration’s ugly step-sister that should be avoided at all costs!
Dehydration occurs when your body reaches a state where more water is leaving the cells in your body than coming into them.
To better understand dehydration, let’s expand on that whole ‘carrier/transport’ thing.
All cells have an outer layer called a cell membrane.
Cell membranes allow important nutrients to enter, while allowing waste products to exit.
As you might have guessed, water is the medium on which those things are transported across the cell membranes.
Since we’re talking about dehydration, let’s focus for a moment on the process of waste leaving the cells.
When water leaves our cells, it takes out waste to excrete as urine.
However, it takes with it important nutrients like sodium, potassium, and chloride, known as electrolytes.
When your cells lack enough electrolytes they struggle to produce energy, which throws a wrench into proper cell functioning!
Mild dehydration can lead to some dizziness, dry skin, and/or fatigue, while more severe dehydration can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
Fortunately, we are blessed in these modern times to have relatively easy access to fresh drinking water…
But if we didn’t, dehydration can actually happen quite quickly, and can can be fatal in just days.
On a more positive note, let’s look at all the amazing ways that staying hydrated can improve your daily quality of life.
The Benefits of Proper Hydration
Getting hydrated, and staying hydrated, come with several health benefits.
Most of us can find something in this list of the top benefits of hydration that we could use more of – check these out:
Improved Physical Performance
There’s a reason why those football teams on TV have gallons upon gallons of Gatorade on the sidelines at all times!
Hydration is essential in allowing our bodies to perform at the highest level.
Drinking adequate fluids allows your body to regulate its body temperature properly – key to any physically-demanding activity.
Staying hydrated also helps athletes prevent dehydration, which negatively affects your body temperature regulation.
Fluid lost through sweating can cause heat exhaustion or even fever if proper hydration is not maintained.
Dehydration also increases perceived fatigue which can make high intensity exercise more challenging.
But how quickly can dehydration set in?
Most athletes or gym-goers, can start feeling the effects of dehydration having lost as little as two percent of the water in their bodies.3
This is why staying hydrated is very important as your heart rate rises – plus, water helps your muscles function.
To perform at the highest level, you should make sure that you are taking in more fluids than you lose during a workout.
Headache Prevention and Treatment
One of the first signs of dehydration that many people feel is a headache, or migraine.
Our brains needs a lot of water to function, so keeping hydrated will help keep your brain happy and ache-free.
Fun Fact: The human brain is over three quarters water, so when you’re missing water in your body, you are limiting your brain’s ability to function.
Some studies suggest that you can treat an active headache by drinking more water.
They also indicate that individuals who experience frequent headaches can potentially decrease the frequency of their headaches by drinking more water during the day.4
While there is some research that suggests water can help alleviate headaches, there are some researchers that don’t agree.
There needs to be more research done to know the full effect, but the research seems promising to indicate that water is a great help for people affected by headaches.
Can Put You in a Better Mood
Did you know that having a drink or two can put you in a better mood?
A drink of WATER, that is!
In addition to helping prevent headaches, recent science is showing us that staying hydrated might actually help ward off anxiety and/or depression.
A 2018 study conducted in Iran indicates that there may be a connection between depression and dehydration.5
Another study suggested that people who drink more water may feel more content than those who don’t.6
So don’t be afraid to drink up – hydration might be the key to a more positive outlook.
Recommended Reading: The Top 3 Supplements for Combatting Anxiety & Depression
Helps With Kidney Stones
If you or someone you know has ever passed a kidney stone before, then you know that it is one of the most painful things that you can imagine.
But if you have frequent kidney stones, then the secret to preventing recurrences may be right in front of you: water.
Kidney stones form when the minerals that are in your urinary tract crystalize and form stones that have to pass through your urinary system.
Kidney stones are the most common urinary stones that can occur, and once you start getting them, you frequently get them again.
By drinking more water, you can increase the flow of water to the kidneys and bladder.
This helps increase the volume of liquids to solids in your urine, making it less likely that the solids will crystalize.
Water Can Support Healthy Weight Loss
By now you are probably thinking, “Is there anything water can’t do??”
To which the answer is, but wait, there’s more!
Staying hydrated can help to increase your metabolism and make you feel fuller for longer.
A higher metabolism means that your body burns more calories at rest, which can result in a caloric deficit, and more weight loss.
Caloric Deficit: A term usually used when discussing diet and weight loss, which refers to the premise of taking in (or eating) less calories than you burn.
Drinking water immediately before a meal can also be a major driver of weight loss.
Studies show that drinking water thirty minutes before you eat a meal can lead to eating less, due to greater satiety.
In one study, participants who drank water thirty minutes before their meals lost 44% more weight than those who did not over a 12-week period.7
That is a significant amount of weight loss that should not be overlooked!
If you are trying to lose a little extra weight, then you should consider drinking a glass of water prior to eating.
You might also consider trying an effective natural weight loss supplement.
Everybody likes a fun night out, but nobody likes the hangover the next day.
And while the late-night burrito is a tasty, yet indulgent way to end an evening on the town, the real key to preventing your hangover is simple: hydration.
Alcohol can speed up the process of dehydration, so staying hydrated while drinking is essential to ward off the negative effects of alcohol.
While there are plenty of aspects of a hangover that water can’t do much about, staying properly hydrated can help relieve or prevent headaches and dry mouth that is associated with hangovers.
Drinking water can also help with hangover-related fatigue, giving you some extra energy to take on the day.
Try to drink water throughout your night, and to have a glass of water when you get home for the night.
How to Tell if You’re Dehydrated
As you can tell by now – the importance of hydration can not be overstated.
It is truly one of the best things you can do to keep your body functional and healthy.
But sometimes, you forget to drink water throughout the day and don’t realize until it’s too late!
Here are a few signs and symptoms of dehydration that you should self-monitor throughout the day to prevent dehydration:
Darker, Smellier Urine
If your urine is darker than normal or has a more pungent smell than normal, that is a good sign that you could use more water.
Urochrome is the name of the pigment that colors your urine. It is a byproduct of the breakdown of hemoglobin in your blood.
Urochrome is diluted by the water in your urine, and if there is not enough water to dilute it, the urochrome darkens your urine.
As mentioned earlier, a headache is a sign that you aren’t drinking enough water throughout the day.
Our brains need lots of water to stay functional and prime and keep you free of fatigue.
If you start to notice a headache coming on, grab a bottle of water.
If you are thirsty, then you are dehydrated.
As soon as you are getting thirst signals, you should make sure that you are drinking water.
If your tongue is dry, then you are going to need water as soon as you can get it.
Staying hydrated is the best thing you can do for your body.
When you’re dehydrated, your mood suffers, you experience constipation and cramps, and you may even get urinary tract infections.
You can operate at peak performance levels only when your body is at optimal hydration levels.
Not only that, but you feel better, and have more energy when you keep yourself properly hydrated.
Staying hydrated can be difficult, but with a little planning, it is manageable for most.
- Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Try carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go to ensure that you always have some handy
- Eat foods with high water content like cucumber, watermelon, and lettuce
By staying hydrated you can keep your headaches at bay, keep your body in optimal physical condition, promote weight loss, and prevent recurrences of kidney stones.
Water really does it all.
So grab a glass and sip away- you’ll feel the benefits right away.