In several posts on this blog, we’ve talked about the importance of staying hydrated. At this point, we all know on some level that we should be drinking enough water, but why exactly is it so important to hydrate? Yes, we need water to function, but what does water actually do for the body?
I’m glad you asked.
- Water can aid weight loss. One study showed that participants who drank water as they worked towards their weight loss goals saw more significant fat loss than the participants who did not drink as much water. This isn’t to say that water alone will cause you to lose weight; there are no shortcuts to good health. However, consider replacing fruit juice or soda in your diet with water, thereby cutting out one sugar source.
- Water facilitates healthy digestion. Look, this isn’t a pretty topic, but, as the popular book says, everyone poops. Water aids in preventing constipation by helping to dissolve fats and soluble fiber as well as facilitate easy passage through the digestive system. Without sufficient water, the colon pulls water from waste to help keep things moving, potentially causing constipation.
- Water can boost your energy. No, really! Fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration, so giving your body the water it craves can help raise your energy levels. Water can also help your mental clarity, so be sure to keep your water bottle on hand if you have a big project at work (and a can of Burn as a backup to prevent that mid-afternoon slump)! Dehydration can also cause headaches, so the next time you feel one coming on, have some water and see if that helps.
- Water can keep you from snacking. Many people also often mistake hunger for thirst, so drinking enough water can help prevent overeating. The next time you’re tempted to reach for potato chips, grab a glass of water instead. Instead of dehydrating yourself with a salty snack, give your body the water it craves!
- Water helps to keep your joints healthy. Cartilage is about 85% water, so staying hydrated is very important for joint health. Additionally, drinking enough water helps to protect the spinal cord and sensitive tissues. You can’t push yourself in your next workout if your joints aren’t in peak condition!
- Water can lessen the risk of heart disease. A 2002 study showed that participants who drank more water than their less hydrated counterparts had a decreased risk for fatal coronary heart disease. Of course, exercise and a heart healthy diet are important factors as well, but water is essential for keeping the body’s fluids in balance and allowing the transportation of nutrients.
There are countless other benefits of proper hydration, but hopefully those listed here have convinced you of the necessity of water for your body. As you work towards your health and fitness goals, it’s important to keep your body in top shape. Think of it like a car: if your food is your fuel, your water is your oil. It’s essential for proper maintenance and function, and if you go too long without replenishing, you’re headed for a break down. The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend an average water intake of 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluid for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) for women. However, this is not a hard and fast rule as adjustments might need to be made to your personal intake based on several factors like exercise, environment, or your overall health. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any medical conditions you might have so they can make a safe recommendation about your water intake.
What are your tips and tricks for staying hydrated? Leave them in the comments!
 Stookey, J D, et al. “Drinking Water Is Associated with Weight Loss in Overweight Dieting Women Independent of Diet and Activity.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 16 Nov. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18787524.
 “Constipation.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation.
 “Dehydration.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Feb. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086.
 “Drinking Water.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Oct. 2016, www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/.
 Chan, J, et al. “Water, Other Fluids, and Fatal Coronary Heart Disease: the Adventist Health Study.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 May 2002, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11978586.