Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Drink Up!

Your body is made up of about 80 percent water, and getting enough good, clean water may just be the most essential part of your overall health. Unfortunately, most of us—about 75 percent of Americans—don’t get enough pure H2O, and it can hurt our health.

Just how can inadequate water intake hurt health? For starters, cellular regeneration and overall health depend on adequate water intake. In fact, your body needs water to make new cells of all types, including blood cells, bone cells and skin cells. Additionally, every organ and bodily system requires water to function correctly and healthily. Likewise, drinking enough water keeps your lymphatic system in tip-top shape so that wastes and toxins are removed from your body. Check out this Mayo Clinic diagram about the functions of water in the body.

That’s not all that staying adequately hydrated can do for you, though. Water also keeps your joints lubricated; delivers nutrients to your nervous system; helps the blood transport oxygen and other essential nutrients to your cells; and even makes it so your heart doesn’t have to work as hard pumping blood through your body. Water regulates your metabolism, too, and aids in digestion and body temperature control. An added bonus is that adequate water intake hydrates your skin cells and plumps them up.

Take a look at this WebMD slideshow of the benefits of drinking enough water.

The late Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, a foremost authority on the relationship between water consumption and overall health, says that many common health ailments are really just names given to patterns of symptoms created by the body’s drought management system. When your body gets dehydrated, it goes into conservation mode. For example, the brain, which is 85 percent water, must be kept hydrated. The body will keep it watered at all costs—even if that means redirecting water from other parts of the body.

Did you know that even breathing can sap your water supply, depending on the climate and your level of physical exercise? It’s true. If you’re not getting enough water, your body will fight against respiratory water loss by producing histamines to close off the capillaries in the lungs. When these capillaries constrict, water loss is minimized, but breathing can become more difficult. The body goes into water conservation and preservation modes—constricting your lungs’ capillaries to make sure your brain doesn’t suffer.

While I’m at it, forget what you’ve ever heard about “water weight” from drinking enough water. Drinking water does not make you gain weight. In fact, the opposite is true. Water revs up your metabolism, helps you feel full and prevents the body from holding onto excess fluids.

The bottom line is that you probably need to drink more water—and much less of other beverages such as “sport drinks,” soda, caffeinated beverages and other beverages that don’t meet the body’s need for hydration. In fact, they can rob it of existing hydration as well as essential nutrients.

So, drink up! Get at least eight or more large glasses of pure water daily, depending on your needs, your physical activity level as well as your climate.

Your body will thank you.