Watching the sailing and the events in the Olympic pool last year got me to thinking about water. It’s something that in the western world we take for granted. If we need to shower or bathe, brush our teeth, wash dishes or clothes, water the plants, clean anything, wash our hands, rinse fruit and vegetables, make a drink or for any of a myriad of uses all we have to do is turn on the tap and it’s there. We’re always encouraged to drink plenty of water by nutritionists, nurses, doctors and sports and health professionals, but why is it so important?
Water is not just beneficial to our health it’s critical. The average person can only survive for around three to five days without drinking water, but for a number of weeks without food. This is because water is necessary to maintain the body’s functionality.
Human beings are composed of around 60% water, so we need to keep replenishing the fluids we lose through using the toilet, breathing and perspiration. Our brains comprise a massive 75 to 85% water, muscles are 75% water, blood is 83% water, bone is 20% water with cartilage being 80% water.
The benefits of drinking plenty of water
One of the main functions of water within the body is to break down the vitamins and nutrients from the food we eat so that it they can be used effectively by our cells. Water also flushes out waste products and toxins via the kidneys. If the kidneys don’t receive enough water it can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. People who keep themselves sufficiently hydrated – 6 to 8 glasses of water a day are recommended – are likely to have greater energy levels than those who don’t. Since blood plasma is predominantly water, if we don’t drink enough of it the volume of blood in our bodies is reduced and the heart has to work harder to supply oxygen to our muscles, sapping our energy and making us feel tired. We’re also more likely to suffer cramps, strains, headaches and constipation.
Better than an expensive moisturiser
Drinking water can also help us to avoid joint problems such as arthritis, as water is instrumental in cushioning joints and tissues. It also helps to regulate body temperature, helps metabolism and moisturises the air in our lungs. Speaking of moisturising, those concerned with looking young might be pleased to hear that hydration from the inside is far more effective in keeping our skin looking healthy than any number of lotions and potions you can buy. And the best thing is that it’s free!
We’ve already noted that the brain is comprised mainly of water, so it will come as no surprise to learn that keeping it hydrated allows you to maintain concentration, remain alert and be more productive. It also helps to keep you in a good mood!
A great help in shedding the pounds
Anyone who’s ever been on a diet will find that, far from it making you weigh more, drinking the recommended amount of water can actually help you to shed the pounds. That’s because it’s zero calories, it flushes out the by-products of fat breakdowns, improves our metabolic rate and can reduce hunger. Often we think we’re hungry, but in actual fact our body is craving water, so it’s worth having a glass of water if you get hunger pangs. If you still feel hungry afterwards, then you do need something to eat. Additionally, if you’re exercising you need to maintain your body at a regular temperature, so ideally you should drink around 150ml of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise you undertake.
So next time you’re celebrating a Team GB win, why not raise a glass of Adam’s Ale or Frogs’ Wine? You’ll feel so much better for it!
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