We’ve all heard that water makes up more than half of our bodyweight, and that we can’t survive without it, but most of us are still not getting as much as we need. Water helps to maintain every system in our body; every cell, tissue, and organ needs it to work properly. Here are some of the functions that water has in our bodies:
- Heart Health: Water helps with proper circulation, because it maintains healthy blood volume and blood pressure, and when we are hydrated the heart can pump blood easier, benefiting our entire body.
- Kidney Health: Consuming enough water aids the kidneys in flushing toxins out of the body. This will help prevent both kidney stones and overall decline in kidney health.
- Tissues, Joints, and Organs: Water keeps tissues at the optimal level of hydration, and provides lubrication and shock absorption as protection for joints. It also surrounds and cradles vital organs like the brain and spinal cord.
- Body Temperature: Through sweating, water regulates the internal temperature of the body relative to the external temperature.
- Digestion: Water plays a part in every stage of digestion, from forming the basis of saliva, breaking down food and liquid to dissolve nutrients and minerals, to effective excretion of waste.
We lose water when we sweat, excrete waste, and even when we breathe, and if we don’t replenish what we lose we put ourselves at risk of becoming dehydrated. Dehydration takes a toll on your body in various ways, including forcing your heart to work harder than it needs to, and decreased blood flow to your organs. Some signs that you need to be taking in more water are dizziness, confusion, weakness, fatigue, dry mouth, dry eyes, headache, mood swings, muscle cramps, and body aches. Older adults are at an increased risk of dehydration, as stated by kidney specialist, Dr. Julien Seifter: “Older people don’t sense thirst as much as they did when they were younger. And that could be problematic especially if they’re on a medication that may cause fluid loss, such as a diuretic.”
If you have trouble getting enough water throughout the day, there are some tips that may help. Carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go as a reminder, because “out of sight = out of mind”. You can even add a slice of lemon or a few berries to add some flavour. If the problem is that you just don’t think of it during the day, try making a schedule that will stick in your mind, like have a glass when you wake up, every time you eat, and when you go to bed, or try to drink a glass every hour on the hour. When you are properly hydrated you will feel more energetic and focused, and will perform even better in your exercise classes!
And now that we are starting to see the temperatures improving and signs of warmer weather, this is a great time to remind ourselves to drink water and stay hydrated. Happy First Day of Spring!