Water is the most valuable life source that we need to survive; without water, we would only survive a few days. This is not really surprising, given that up to 70 percent of our bodies are composed of water. Our bodies require water to carry out daily functions and too little water can cause dehydration and lead to other diseases, such as headaches and depression. The quality of the water that we drink is also important. However, not everyone requires the same amount of daily water. So, what are the benefits to drinking water?
Water and Your Body
Water plays a significant role in all bodily functions; these include:
- it helps to prevent constipation
- it carries waste material out of the body
- it transports nutrients throughout the body
- it regulates body temperature (perspiration)
- it acts as a lubricant
- it forms the basis for fluids around the joints, allowing for easy movement.
(Source: University of Maryland Medical Center and Prescription for Nutritional Health, Balch James F, Balch, Phyllis A)
How Much Water Does Your Body Need?
The general recommendation for daily water consumption is about eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day for an adult; children require less water, depending on their weight. However, the “standard” recommendation can also vary due to lifestyle factors. Factors that influence how much water your body needs include:
- diet – high processed or salty foods do not provide the same water intake as more natural foods
- weight – the more you weigh, the more water your body needs to help it to process basic functions
- exercise – increases perspiration and you need to replace the fluids lost
- stress – increases metabolism which means that the body needs more water
- environmental factors such as where you live. If you live in a hotter, drier climate it is important to drink sufficient water to avoid dehydration. In addition, high altitude increases the need for water intake, including long haul flights.
Ways to Get Water into the Body
Water can be obtained through beverages and foods, in addition to a simple glass of water; examples of beverages and foods that contain water include:
- grain products.
(Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Publications, Water: The Nutrient)
Quality of Drinking Water
The quality of the water that you drink is important too. A lot of people drink bottled water in the belief that is it more “healthy” than tap water; although this may be true in some instances, it is not always the case. Pay attention to where the water was bottled and the processes it past through, in addition to the time and distance it traveled, to reach the store shelf.
Tap water varies in quality depending on location. Tap water may also have fluoride or other substances added to it, some of which have been attributed with causing health conditions. “Harmful” levels of contaminants that have been found in tap water include lead, copper and iron.
James F Balch and Phyllis A Balch, in Prescription for Nutritional Healing cite a study that was carried out by the Natural Resources Defense Council on North American water systems from 1994 to 1995. The study found that 18,500 water systems did not meet “safe drinking water laws.” In addition, the report attributed 900,000 illnesses (and 100 deaths) to contaminated water.
Water and Your Health
Water is a very important part of your diet; however, quality, quantity and sources of water play a significant role in the “healthiness” of your water intake. Sparkling, or carbonated, water often has high levels of fructose or sweeteners added to it, so is not a good alternative to a traditional glass of water. Consult a medical practitioner or a dietitian for advice on what is the right quantity of water intake for your particular needs and circumstances.
- Balch James F., Balch Phyllis A., 1997, Prescription for Nutritional Healing US: Avery
- Mayo Clinic website: Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?
- University of Maryland Medical Center website: Water in Diet
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension website: Water: The Nutrient