Drinking water is essential for your body. The average adult human body is made up of 50-65% water. This percentage varies based on body composition, fitness level, and gender.
Fatty tissue contains less water than lean muscle. The female body has more fatty tissue than males and therefore has less water.
Physically fit people have more lean muscle mass and, therefore, more water than heavier people with higher fat levels.
Our body parts are comprised of varying amounts of water as well. According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys have 79%, and the bones are 31% water.
With so much water, it seems evident that water is essential, but why?
Why is water so important for the body?
Water is critical to proper bodily function for several reasons.
It acts as a building material for our cells and regulates internal body temperatures through sweat and perspiration.
Water in the bloodstream transports carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food.
It flushes bodily waste, acts as a shock absorber for the spinal cord, brain, and fetus.
It lubricates our joints.
It creates saliva in our mouths.
It dissolves minerals, soluble vitamins, and certain nutrients as well as transports oxygen and nutrients to cells.
What happens when we aren't adequately hydrated?
When we're not adequately hydrated, we hijack our body's ability to function correctly. Proper hydration affects everything from our digestive system to our neurological functions. Some effects of improper hydration are:
Inability to cool the brain leading to tension and stress headaches.
Lack of lubrication for joints, soft tissues, and organs, making you stiff and less mobile.
Slowed metabolism due to the inability of the kidneys to remove bodily waste. The liver must take over for the kidneys when this happens.
The older we get, the more prone to dehydration we become. This is because our "thirst response system" diminishes, causing us not to be aware that we need water. The body also naturally loses water as it ages because of loss of muscle mass and an increase in fat cells.
How much water should you be drinking?
The Blueprint recommended hydration guidelines are:
Consume half of your body weight in ounces each day. For example, a 200-pound man should drink a minimum of 100oz of water daily.
On days you sweat a lot, such as work-out days or when it's really hot, add an additional 25% to your daily minimum. In the above example, the 200-pound man would drink an extra 25oz on high-sweat days.
When is the best time to drink water?
Did you even know there is an optimal time to drink water?
There is, and the reason is that you want to hydrate your body most effectively.
At Blueprint, we recommend that you drink 25% of your daily water needs within the first hour of waking up. When you wake up in the morning, you are dehydrated from a prolonged period without water during your sleep.
If you don't drink water first thing, you risk drinking too much too quickly. Drinking too much at once causes our bodies to process and excrete this overdose through frequent urination. This flushes out vitamins and minerals before our bodies have had a chance to absorb them.
Rule of thumb: You should urinate every 90 min. If too frequently, you risk flushing vitamins and nutrients from your body. If you urinate too little, it's a sign that you're dehydrated and need to drink more.
The trouble with sports drinks
Sports drinks like Gatorade are full of sugar and artificial dyes, which no one should have, especially children. Recent studies have shown a link between these additives and certain cancers and diseases.
What the body needs is the proper amounts of water. Parents especially should pay close attention to the amount of water their children are getting daily.
Additional tips for increasing water intake
If you want to mix things up, try these two tips:
First: Add some fruit to your water. The fruit is a natural way to kick your water flavor up a notch if you're not a fan of plain water.
Second: Eat water-dense foods such as cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, sweet peppers, and oranges.
Proper hydration is critical for optimal health and proper body functions. Consume half of your body weight in ounces each day and 25% more than that on high-sweat days. Steer clear of artificially colored and sugar added sports drinks. Add water-dense foods to your diet and fruit to your water to mix things up.
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ABOUT OUR AUTHOR: Blueprint member Kaylene Mathews is a freelance writer specializing in health and fitness, and personal development. Learn more at www.kaylenewrites.com.