Why Water: A complete guide into the benefits of drinking water

Water, or H2O is more than just a basic molecule, it is the key for feeling better, seeing better health-related results, and plays a significant role in normal bodily functioning. It makes sense that water plays a massive role in staying healthy, as it makes up nearly 60% of our total body mass. Both extracellular (about 35%) and intracellular (about 65%) spaces are composed of water.

We tend to dismiss water at times, forgetting its importance and only drinking it when we are thirsty, but by the time we get thirst signals we often are already dehydrated. That is why it is crucial to keep consistently replenish the body throughout the day with water, whether we are working out or just going about daily life.

The importance of water for the body

Besides hydrating the cells and nourishing the entire body, water plays a vital role in keeping hair, skin and nails healthy, maintaining movement throughout the bowels, delivering nutrients throughout the blood stream to organs and and so much more. All organs are composed of the H2O molecule, including the brain which dictates and controls all bodily functions. 

Proper hydration is associated with intact, healthy cognitive function. Research has shown that not drinking enough water can adversely affect mood, focus, alertness and short term memory. Clinical studies have demonstrated that dehydration results in acute delirium and confusion. With brain tissue composed of 85% water it makes sense that inadequate water intake can negatively affect brain function.


What about when working out?

Even when got to the gym, water should be the number one thing you bring. It is crucial to continue drinking at intervals throughout the entire workout process. Having some water before hand will aid in boosting and elevating your mood so you can reap all the benefits of your workout.

As the muscles are approximately 80% water, it's vital to replenish them during working out. As the body is exerting physical energy, it regulates body temperature via sweating. Humans sweat through sweat ducts in the skin and when released on to the skins surface evaporate to cool the body down. Sweat is composed mainly of water, with 1 percent being a combination of fat and salt. When the body sweats, it loses water, therefore it is necessary to replenish the lost water. Keeping hydrated during a workout is important to keep blood pressure elevated, regulate body temperature and to reduce the risk of dehydration. Importantly, hydration levels can impact endurance levels, power and strength. Research documents deleterious effects of dehydration and inadequate water intake on exercise endurance performance.

When the muscles are deprived of fluids, both water and electrolytes, their performance quality diminishes greatly. You may feel even more fatigued during and after working out if you are dehydrated. Several studies are currently investigating the affect water intake has on physical performance and results are consistently revealing that dehydration has a negative effect on physical activity, reducing performance quality for aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

Water also protects the body from injuries by lubricating joints to ensure a full range of motion. It keeps muscles and the spinal cord hydrated and protects them from injury. Moreover, water intake affects blood oxygen levels consequently improving blood circulation to get more blood to the muscles efficiently. Do not forget that muscle cells are approximately 3/4 water! So keeping hydrated before, during and after a workout will benefit your entire body and protect it from injury. 

It is suggested to drink about 17 ounces of water about two hours before working out. This gives your body enough time to process and use the water and prepare the body for a workout session.  About 15 minutes before you start your workout, its good to drink about 8 ounces. It is very important to consistently be drinking regular amounts of water throughout the workout session, especially if it is involves high intensity workouts that cause you to sweat a ton and lose water. Side note-- an individuals water intake levels will be dependent on several factors such as weight, height, age, gender, physical activity level and the type and duration of the workout. Men usually need to drink more water due to being inherently larger than women. Camelbak offers a great tool to enter your data (e.g. height, weight, gender, etc.) and calculate approximately how much water you should personally be drinking!

Main take away: Always have a bottle of water near by during your workout! 

Nutrition and Hydration

It is well known that water helps aid digestion. It lines and protects the organs offering them support and cushioning and it also is important for breaking down minerals, nutrients and vitamins in food so the body can process them more efficiently. Water carries these nutrients throughout the body via the blood to all organs. 

Nearly 20% of water intake is derived from food, namely water-rich foods such as vegetables, oatmeal, beans and fruits. Signals coming from your brain when you are "hungry" tend to be caused by thirst and interpreted as hunger. So the next time you get hunger signals, have a glass of water and see if that subsides the hunger!

It has been documented that drinking a glass of water before a meal aids in weight loss. This makes sense since drinking water is related to increased metabolic rates, and just by drinking more water, people have seen improvements for weight loss. Additionally, it aids the kidneys in flushing waste products out of the body quicker.

The NHS suggests 6-8 250ml glasses of water per day for a water intake guide. This is a rule of thumb to follow, but if you are working out or exposed to heat, you may need to replenish what was lost with more water.


Overall, water is essential for maintaining good health and proper bodily functions. So let's all raise a glass of water to our wonderful bodies! H2O is the way to go! 

 

Resources:

https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsnem/29/2/article-p175.xml

https://www.camelbak.com/en/hydrated/hydration-calculator

https://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/exercise-fitness/hydration-exercise

https://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/ten-water-rich-foods-hydration

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16777538/

https://www.nhs.uk/news/food-and-diet/six-to-eight-glasses-of-water-still-best/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230600141_Cognitive_Performance_and_Dehydration

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6682880/#B1-nutrients-11-01550

https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/142/2/382/4743487

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254615000046

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/anatomyvideos/000127.htm