Water is essential for human survival, and drinking enough of it can provide several health benefits. In this article, we will explore the lesser-known advantages of drinking water and how it can help your body and performance. We will also address some common questions about water, such as how much of it we should consume daily and whether it is possible to drink too much. Additionally, we will examine the ways water affects digestion, the immune system, energy levels, muscle density, skin health, and cognitive function. Finally, we will explain how water can help us lose weight and why it is crucial to maintain proper hydration levels.
Everyone knows they’re supposed to drink a lot of water, so I outlined what you might need to know about H2O and how it helps your body and performance. While many people understand that drinking water is essential for staying hydrated, there are several lesser-known benefits of drinking water that people may like to know. Generally, a person can survive without water for about three to five days. However, this can vary widely depending on the circumstances. In some cases, a person may be able to survive for up to a week or more without water, but this is rare. It’s worth noting that dehydration can have serious health consequences and can cause organ failure and other complications. And yet, you can live without food for about 3-4 weeks.
The first question I get asked often as a clinical nutritionist is, “how much water does the body require to operate and function at a top performance level?” A formula I’ve been using for years at The Institute of Eating Management is to multiply my client’s body weight by .66, and the resulting number is how many ounces of water they should drink daily. I weigh 210 pounds, so 210 X .66 = 138 ounces of water daily, or just over a gallon daily. I came up with that formula in the early 1980s as a way for my clients to determine the amounts they needed to take in for performance and not just health.
There is an exception to that formula, and that is for very overweight people. Let’s say you’re 350 pounds, so 350 pounds X .66 would put you at 231 ounces of water a day and puts that person at a level that’s too difficult to achieve and an unnecessary amount of water. So when I have a client that is almost 300 pounds and not that athletic, I tell them to try to finish a gallon of water each day, which is 120 ounces. That advice is good for just about everybody, regardless of body weight.
The second question is, “can a person drink too much water?” And the answer to that is yes; a person can drink too much water, leading to water intoxication, hyponatremia, or water poisoning. Water intoxication occurs when a person consumes excessive amounts of water, which can dilute the electrolytes, especially potassium and sodium, in the blood. This can result in swelling of the brain, seizures, and coma; in severe cases, it can be life-threatening and stop the heart. Although rare, hyponatremia is mainly a risk for the elderly and long-distance runners in high temperatures. However, it can happen when a person drinks excessive amounts of water in a short period or consumes large quantities of water over a long period without replacing the electrolytes lost through sweating and urination.
One lesser-known benefit of drinking water is that it improves our digestion as it helps break down food and move it through the digestive system. It also helps constipation by keeping stools soft and easier to pass, which also helps prevent hemorrhoids. Drinking water also helps to boost your immune system. It does this by flushing toxins and waste products from the body, which allows the immune system to function correctly. An excellent example is when I saw patients that suffered from gout or high levels of Uric Acid in their blood. Once they started drinking a gallon of water daily, their issues usually cleared up because the higher water intake helped carry the excess Uric Acid out of the body so that it couldn’t crystallize in their joints.
Water helps to increase energy. Dehydration can lead to feelings of fatigue and sluggishness. Drinking enough water allows you to avoid dehydration and also helps your muscle density. Since muscles are made up of 75% water, the water mixed with the glycogen gives your muscles a denser and harder look and feel. When we see a bodybuilder on stage who didn’t manipulate their water intake correctly or took diuretics, they can look “flat,” a term we use to describe the muscles looking deflated instead of full. And since the muscles are made up of so much water, being hydrated helps with muscular strength. All my powerlifters realized their power was at its peak when they took in 140 ounces of water before going to the gym or meet. If you’ve ever bench-pressed one day only to feel like the weight seemed much heavier that day, it’s most likely because you didn’t drink enough water leading up to your benching. And being hydrated prevents injuries, especially from joints and tendons. Water carries nutrients throughout your body that help with healing. It regulates your body temperature as well.
Drinking water gives us better-looking skin because it keeps the skin hydrated, which also reduces the appearance of wrinkles and dryness. And because it removes toxins from the body, it also helps prevent acne and other skin issues. Water also helps improve cognitive function by decreasing dehydration. Once we get dehydrated, our cognitive function declines quickly, and so can memory and concentration. So meeting your daily requirements for water keeps the brain hydrated and functioning properly.
Water helps us lose weight in a couple of different ways. The first is that drinking water before your meals can help you feel fuller faster, reduce your appetite and therefore also reduce your caloric intake. But water works in another way as well. The part of your brain that regulates thirst is the same part that controls hunger. So when you’re trying to lose weight but get thirsty, you often think you’re hungry by mistake. We’ve all seen the weight loss advice telling us to drink a glass of water first. That’s because by drinking the water first, you’ll find that hunger often goes away. After all, that part of your brain gets what it needs, water.
Water intake is critical for human health and performance because it is necessary for many essential bodily functions. Adults should drink at least .66 times their body weight in ounces of water daily, or more if they are physically active or live in a hot climate.