Our bodies are about 60% water. Each day, we lose about 2-3 liters of that water. That’s why we need to drink water all day long, though at times it feels impossible to reach the magical number of cups we’re told we need. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine advise men to drink about 15.5 cups of water and women about 11.5 cups daily. With the plethora of drink options available, it can be difficult to get enough water.
What happens when we do get enough water? What does it do once we drink it?
1. Water digests. Water is the foundation of our saliva. Partnered with the complex of enzymes we produce, water starts to break down everything we eat and drink. Further down, water in the stomach helps our bodies to absorb the soluble fibers, minerals, and nutrients. In fact, drinking water increases metabolism by up to 30% which gives a positive boost of energy. Because of its vital role in digestion, dehydration is sometimes mistaken as hunger. The next time you crave a snack, you may need a large glass of water instead.
2. Water eases movement. Our joint cartilage is about 80% water. When it dries out, there is less elasticity and support for joints. Over time, this causes joint pain. With enough water, this cartilage can cushion our movements and protect our joints from permanent damage.
3. Water cools us down. Our ideal internal body temperature is 98.6oF. Water maintains this temperature through sweat. As sweat evaporates, it takes heat away from the skin, and cools our internal temperature. But too much sweat does the opposite. When we lose too much water, the sweat can carry away vital electrolytes and plasma and cause our body temperature to rise. That’s why in hot and humid weather we need to drink more water to combat the effects of sweat.
4. Water protects our brain. Water provides a cushion between the skull and the brain, to protect the soft tissue of the brain from the hard bone. When you’re dehydrated, your brain shrinks and pulls away from the skull. This causes dehydration headaches. Dehydration also inhibits thinking.
5. Water cleanses our body. Water carries waste to the kidneys where it is filtered into urine to cleanse the debris from our blood. You can see how hydrated you are based on the color of your urine. If it’s clear urine you’re hydrated and darker yellow urine indicates you’re low on water.
The good news is that there are ways to get enough water. 20% of your daily water intake can come from your food. Studies have also indicated that drinks with caffeine contribute to your daily water.
Grab a glass of yaupon and be a step closer to your water goal today!