It’s hard to know what’s good for you, as the story often changes from one day to the next. One thing we can be sure of though, there are health benefits from drinking water. Drinking water makes you look, feel, and even think better.

For many years we heard “Drink 8 glasses of water a day.” In recent years it came to light that this recommendation wasn’t actually based on any scientific research. Perhaps you, like many others, decided drinking water daily was no longer a priority. Regardless of what studies get sensationalized by the media, water is a vital nutrient your body needs.

Drinking-Water Is Essential

An in-depth 60-page report by the National Institutes for Health states a fairly stark fact very succinctly. “Water represents a critical nutrient whose absence will be lethal within days.” That’s definitely not subtle, but it is true.

Our body, composed of about 60% water, requires this vital nutrient to lubricate joints, protect the spinal cord, maintain digestion, absorption, circulation, for the creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, maintenance of body temperature, and removal of toxins through perspiration, urine, and stool.

We Lose Water Each Day

Skin evaporation, breathing, urine, and stool, all deplete a large amount of water from our body, and physical activity increases that fluid loss.

If water isn’t replaced daily, we can’t have optimal health. Without sufficient water we become dehydrated.

Dehydration occurs when we use and lose more water than we take in.

The Effects of Dehydration

Dehydration affects everyone from young children to the elderly. Here are a few of the many consequences of dehydration…

  • Dehydration makes your skin look more dry and wrinkled. Your skin contains water that functions as a protective barrier. The appearance of the skin can be improved with proper hydration.
  • Wastes build up in your body. Water helps your kidneys function, removing toxins via urine. When you intake enough fluids, urine is light in color and free of odor.
  • Constipation becomes a problem. Water helps maintain normal bowel function. Adequate hydration is required to keep things flowing along your intestines.
  • Even mild dehydration impairs brain function. Lack of sufficient fluids can affect mood, concentration, memory, and increase feelings of anxiety, fatigue, and the frequency of headaches.

Symptoms of Dehydration

  • Little or no urine, or urine that is darker than usual
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Extreme thirst
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness or lightheaded feeling
  • No tears when crying

Don’t wait until you notice symptoms of dehydration, prevent it by drinking plenty of water.

Water From Food Or Other Drinks

You can get water from beverages like milk and juice. Fruits and vegetables do offer some water as well. Drinking water is still the best source of fluid for the body.

Beverages containing alcohol and caffeine, such as soft drinks, coffee, and beer, aren’t ideal as they cause the body to lose water.

How Much Water To Drink

Recommendations for water intake vary from person to person, but here are a few things to take into consideration…

  • How active are you?
  • How much do you sweat?
  • Do you live in a warm climate?
  • Are you running a fever, vomiting or have diarrhea?

There is a general consensus of what a healthy amount of water is. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an adequate intake for men is approximately 13 cups (3 liters) a day. For women, around 9 cups (2.2 liters).

It seems the phrase “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day,” wasn’t too far off the mark. It works out to around 8 cups and is close to the IOM’s recommendation for women. Drinking “8 by 8” is an easy-to-remember amount that can get you headed in the right direction.

Tips To Help Drink More Water

  • Carry a water bottle with you, whether you’re at work or running errands. You’re likely to drink more frequently if the water is conveniently accessible.
  • Choose water when eating out, it will save you money and aid digestion.
  • Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water, to improve the taste and help you drink more.
  • Choose water over sugar-sweetened beverages to help with weight management, improve mental function and mood.
  • When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied with drinking water.