The importance of drinking enough water and staying hydrated

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Drinking enough water every day is essential for maintaining our overall health yet, many of us do not consume enough water. As a result we’re missing out on the many health benefits of proper hydration.

By Allianz Worldwide Care | May 16, 2017

Allianz Care - importance of water

Despite our bodies need for water in order to survive, almost one in ten of the world’s population have no access to a safe and clean water supply. For those of us fortunate enough to have an unlimited supply of fresh water, daily consumption of this invaluable resource maintains many of our basic bodily functions as well as having a positive impact on how we look and feel.

The benefits of water

Many of us opt for beverages such as sugary drinks, coffee and tea in order to stay hydrated. However, water, be it from the tap or a bottle, is the best source of fluid for the body, for a number of reasons:

Maintaining bodily fluids

Approximately 60 percent of the body is made of water. To function properly, all the cells and organs of the body require it. Drinking enough water maintains the body’s fluid balance, which helps transport nutrients, regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, create saliva and digest food.

Water also helps dissolve minerals and nutrients so that they are more accessible to the body, as well as helping transport waste products out of the body. It is these two functions that make water so vital to the kidneys.

Optimising kidney function

Water is essential for the kidneys to function as they need enough fluids to purify waste and transport urine to the bladder.

Higher fluid intake increases the volume of urine passing through the kidneys, which dilutes the concentration of minerals, so kidney stones are less likely to crystallize and form.

If the kidneys do not function properly, waste products and excess fluid can build up inside the body.

Preventing urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common types of infection in the body.

Drinking plenty of water is one of the simplest ways to reduce the risk of developing a UTI and is also recommended to assist those who have already developed a UTI.

Water dilutes your urine and ensures that you'll urinate more frequently, allowing bacteria to be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection begins.

Weight management

Drinking more water can help with weight loss. As part of a healthy diet consuming the recommended daily intake of water helps you feel full and as a result consume less calories.

Maximise physical performance

During exercise, adequate hydration aids concentration levels and maximises physical performance, allowing you to perform at your best.

When we exercise, we lose more water through perspiration. A loss of just 2% of your body’s water content can begin to have noticeable effect, reducing motivation, increasing fatigue and making exercise feel more difficult, both physically and mentally.

Maximise mental performance

Negative effects of dehydration on cognitive performance have been shown in some studies.

The brain is influenced by hydration status, mild dehydration (1 to 3 percent of body weight) can impair several aspects of brain function, including attention span, mood, concentration levels and working memory.

How much water should you consume daily?

There is no universally agreed consensus on the quantity of water that should be consumed daily, as individual needs differ, but there is some agreement on what a healthy amount is.

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an adequate intake for men is approximately 3 litres a day, while for women adequate intake amounts to 2.2 litres daily.

The ideal daily consumption will vary from person to person, depending on factors such as:

  • Activity level
  • Climate
  • Age
  • Diet
  • Health conditions

Although most water consumption will come via beverages, water is also consumed through the foods we eat, particularly fruits and vegetables.

In general, you should drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colourless or light yellow. If your urine is a dark yellow or amber colour, you may be dehydrated.

If you are concerned that you are not drinking enough water, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian, who will help you determine the amount of water that's right for you.

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