The common belief is that you must drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water daily to stay healthy.  In fact, health magazines or websites all seem to promote this thought.  As a matter of fact, this age-old suggestion to drink eight glasses of water a day was simply a guideline and not based on any scientific evidence.  We see many people carrying around bottled water, and, where pop was once a staple in everyone’s diet, water has now superseded soda or pop, even Gatorade, which many use to replenish fluids and electrolytes that are lost during intense exercise sessions.

It is important to note that, even though water is essential to keep you healthy, the water needs of individuals varies.  Your individual water intake depends on a variety of factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.  Thus there is no magic formula or a one-size-fits-all recommendation for everyone, other than each person should know how to recognize when their body needs fluids and thus gauge how much water to drink each day.

So, while you may not need to drink until you feel like you are sloshing around with liquid inside your body, you should continue to drink water, or any liquid like milk or juice, as fluids are indeed essential to your good health.  It is important to replenish all liquids that you continually lose during the course of the day through skin evaporation, breathing, digestion, absorption and the circulation and creation of saliva – these losses must be replaced daily to maintain good health.  If your daily water intake does not equal your output, you will quickly become dehydrated.  Take the instance of having the flu – your body fluids sometimes cannot be replenished quickly enough and severe dehydration often occurs.  Additionally, the loss of fluid is accentuated in warmer climates, in high altitudes and during strenuous exercise.  Sometimes, older adults must be reminded to drink a lot of weather as their sense of thirst may not be as acute as a younger person’s.  Water is necessary to create transportation of nutrients and maintenance of body temperature.

You should drink water at regular intervals throughout the day, and not wait until you are thirsty to do so.  The process for your brain to signal you to drink water is complicated and goes as follows:  your brain communicates with your kidneys via your posterior pituitary gland and tells it how much water to excrete as urine, or hold onto for reserves.  If you are low on fluids, your brain triggers the body’s thirst mechanism.  Pay attention to this cue and reach for liquid to quench that thirst as soon as possible.  That liquid does not necessarily need to be water – juice, milk, even coffee is acceptable, but not alcohol because it interferes with the brain  and kidney communication process, and causes excess excretion of fluids which in turn will lead to dehydration.

You now know why you need water

As discussed above, water is beneficial to keep your body humming.  What other benefits are achieved by drinking water?

Health benefits of water

  • Water can helps you control calories – Dieters rely on water to make them feel full, thus making it easier to refuse larger portions of food.   Water beats pop or soda hands down as you have no sugary beverage which racks up your calorie content for the day.  Water-based food like fruits, veggies, broth-based soups, oatmeal and beans are a dieter’s best friend.
  • Water keeps your muscles energized – This is because cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes end up shriveling, which will result in muscle fatigue. When muscle cells lack adequate fluids, they will not work as well and performance will suffer.
  • Water is a necessity when exercising – The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines suggest people drink 17 ounces of fluid about two hours before exercising.  During an exercise session, people should drink plenty of liquids, preferably water, at regular intervals to replace fluids lost by sweating.
  • Water will keep your skin looking good – Your skin cells contain plenty of water, and they function as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss.  Hydrating your body by drinking water will keep those cells plumped up and your skin will not look dry or wrinkled.
  • Water keeps your kidneys in shape – Body fluids transport waste products in and out of cells.  When your intake of fluids is adequate, your kidneys perform the task of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins.  When you’re getting enough fluids, the urine flows freely, is light in color and free of odor.  You will know when your body is not getting enough fluids because urine concentration, color and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions.  You will risk the formation of kidney stones if you drink very little fluids.
  • Water helps maintain normal bowel function – (That, and a little extra fiber).  With adequate fluid intake, your gastrointestinal tract functions normally and prevents constipation; if you don’t get enough fluid, however, your colon will need to pull water from stools to maintain hydration and the end result is constipation.  Adequate fluid. combined with fiber. is the ideal combination to keep your bowel functioning properly.

Introduce more water into your day

  • choosing a beverage with every snack and meal;
  • choosing beverages you enjoy which seems simplistic, but you’ll drink more of your favorite beverages during the course of the day and thus replenish your fluids if you like the way the beverage tastes;
  • eating more fruits and veggies because you can gain 20% more fluid intake from foods; and
  • toting a bottle of water with you at all times and just keep sippin’ every chance you get.

Whatever you do, and wherever you go, heed these top health tips about the health benefits of water and drink more H20 every day for a healthier and more-vibrant you.