16 Impressive Benefits of Drinking Water

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Emily Borth

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The powerful health benefits of drinking water include the maintenance of energy levels, body temperature, metabolism, and breathing. It potentially helps in the prevention of constipation, heartburn, headaches, gastritis, ulcers, cardiovascular disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, backaches, and osteoporosis. It is required in increased amounts for pregnant women and nursing mothers. It also plays an important role in kidney function and skincare.

Water

Water is an essential component of our body and plays a vital role in maintaining nearly all major organ systems of the body. The human body contains up to 60 percent water by weight. According to the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the brain and heart are composed of 73 percent water; the lungs, 83 percent skin, 64 percent muscles and kidneys, 79 percent and bones, 31 percent water.

The health benefits have been promoted by medical experts across the globe. According to the United States Geological Survey, water covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface, the vast majority of which (greater than 95%), is in the oceans. All living forms, in one or the other form, require water for their metabolic activities. It plays a vital role in our body and it is impossible to imagine the existence of an individual without it.

Are you drinking enough water?

According to research, the average consumption of 8 glasses of water (sometimes, even more) is recommended every day; however, there have been NIH studies that say fluid intake depends on other variable factors such as weather conditions and activity levels. A 2010 research report by Meinders AJ et al. recommends that men should have a total daily fluid intake of 3,000 ml (12 cups) and women should have 2,200 ml (about 9 cups). It also adds that higher fluid intake has not shown any convincing health benefits, except in potentially preventing recurrent kidney stones. Although you don’t necessarily have to drink it directly, as 20% of our H20 intake can be fulfilled by our food intake through a proper diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

Health Benefits of Drinking Water

Water has one of the most important roles to play in maintaining a healthy body and some of its benefits include:

Improves Energy Levels & Immunity

The human body maintains a pH range of 7.35-7.45 for proper physiological processes. An acidic shift may lead to sickness and an inability of the body to assimilate vitamins and minerals. Thus, it should be above the value of 7, which is favorable to the body’s oxygen uptake, higher energy levels, and a better immune response to diseases. This is attainable by consuming plenty of water, as the kidneys have a role in acid-base balance in the body, and dehydration severely impairs their function.

A man drinking a glass of water

It is important to drink eight glasses of water every day. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Boosts Physical Performance

Dehydration can cause fatigue, reduced motivation, and mood swings. Several studies have been conducted on the role of water and hydration in physical performance, particularly in athletes and in the US Army. One such comprehensive research by the University of North Carolina clearly states that under mild dehydration levels, people engaged in vigorous physical activity experience a dip in performance levels related to reduced endurance, increased fatigue, reduced motivation, and increased perceived effort. Cheuvront SN et al. from the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine found that if the individual does not compensate for the fluid loss during high-intensity activities such as marathon running, it reduces endurance levels. Therefore, the consumption of ample amounts of water by the body is very important to improve the energy levels while exercising and improving the overall physical performance of your body.

Nutrition Facts

Water, bottled, generic
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]99.98
Ash [g]0.07
Calcium, Ca [mg]10
Magnesium, Mg [mg]2
Sodium, Na [mg]2
Copper, Cu [mg]0.01
Sources include : USDA

Improves Brain Function & Prevents Headaches

A properly hydrated body is shown to function more complex tasks better than a dehydrated body. It helps in improving the mood, boosting memory, reducing the frequency of headaches, and improving brain function. If the body experiences fluid loss, it can lead to anxiety and excessive fatigue. A study conducted in the Netherlands on eighteen volunteers who suffered from regular headaches (all a migraine) showed a reduction in the total number of hours of headaches and also, its intensity after drinking 1.5 liters of water per day for a period of 12 weeks.

Clears Toxins

Water carries oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to the body parts and also provides a medium for the removal of toxins, dead cells, and waste material via the kidneys. The proteins and enzymes involved in various fundamental processes also require water for their proper functioning. The excretory material in the form of urea is also highly toxic to body tissues and must be diluted before their passage. This is achieved through ‘universal solvent’ – water.

Weight loss

With zero calories and the ability to make you feel full, consumption of it can help promote weight loss. It also promotes metabolism and thereby aids in weight loss. Studies conducted in Germany by researchers led by Michael Boschmann showed that drinking 500 ml of water increased the metabolic rate by 30 percent. In fact, these metabolic rate increases were seen within 10 minutes of drinking the water and it reached a maximum after 30-40 minutes.

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Skin Care

A number of skin problems can be prevented by drinking adequate amounts of water. The Department of Dermatology at The University of Franche-Comté, France conducted a study on 80 individuals, men and women, to assess the effect of natural mineral water intake on the skin. There was an improvement in hydration, softness as well as the smoothness of the skin. According to the University of Minnesota, the skin may be more affected by frostbite and blisters if water levels are low.

Relieves Constipation

Water is one of the major components that promote the smooth functioning of our digestive tract. It helps in maintaining regular bowel movements and in preventing any difficulty in passing stool. Carbonated water is shown to have the most positive effects of constipation.

Reduce Hangover Symptoms

The feeling of a dry mouth, thirst, fatigue, and headache, caused by a heavy night of drinking can be reduced by ample intake of water. It reduces the symptoms of hangover that are caused by dehydration and thereby makes you feel better.

Improves Kidney Function

According to the International Kidney Stone Institute, 2 liters or 10 glasses of water must be consumed through food and beverage intake each day to prevent the formation of kidney stones. Water is an efficient solvent and this property helps prevent salts and minerals from accumulating to form stones, as salt reaching the kidney gets diluted and eliminated in the urine.

Regulates Body Temperature

Much of the human body is made up of water and this fluid is responsible for the regulation of body temperature. We perspire when it’s hot to lower our body temperature via evaporation. This temperature regulation property has been attributed to it as well. Particularly during exercise, the body’s water loss (via sweat) often exceeds water intake, making hydration even more important during and after physical exertion.

May Prevent Osteoporosis

According to the research conducted at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, dehydration of bone decreases its strength. There is also evidence that acid-base imbalance may play a role in the formation of osteoporosis. As discussed earlier, the kidneys play an important role in acid-base balance, and their function is severely impaired by dehydration. More research in this area is needed, however, individuals drinking adequate amounts of water, thereby preventing dehydration and some kidney disfunction, may have reduced risks of osteoporosis

Promotes Breathing

It plays its role in respiration and distributing oxygen all over the human body while collecting the carbon dioxide from all these parts and dissolving these gases.  Some research shows that even mild dehydration may be a risk factor in breathing-related disorders.

Necessary to Protect the Spinal Cord

The weight of the body is supported by the spinal cord. Water acts as a shock absorber for not only the spinal cord but also the brain, helping to protect this delicate system.

May Help Treat Heart Disease

Dehydration has been shown to increase blood viscosity, therefore water helps maintain proper viscosity or thickness and stickiness of blood. Some research shows that maintaining adequate hydration may be beneficial in the treatment of many different disorders including coronary heart disease and stroke.

Pregnant Women & Nursing Mothers

A pregnant woman carries a new life in her womb that develops from her body’s resources. During pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume increases, increasing her water needs. Other factors including amniotic fluid and fetal circulation need also increase a pregnant woman’s hydration needs. Constipation, bladder infections, and hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy, all of which adequate water intake can help prevent.

Word of Caution

Though water is safe and in fact necessary for life, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking excessive amounts of water can cause hyponatremia or low sodium in the blood. Sodium is an electrolyte, and very important in fluid balance. This condition, usually caused by other medical issues or medications, is serious and can be life-threatening. Other than people with certain medical conditions including heart or kidney problems, severe vomiting or diarrhea, or those experiencing hormonal changes, those most at risk for developing this condition are endurance athletes. People lose both water and electrolytes through sweat; if you replace just the water and not the electrolytes they are losing during the activity, you can end up with hyponatremia.

If you have a medical condition that increases your risk of hyponatremia, or take diuretic medications, speak with your doctor about your fluid needs. That being said, water consumption is important, and necessary every day!

Overall, water is a safe and cheap remedy for many health conditions we commonly face. So what are you waiting for? Go and drink a glass of water, then two more, and keep repeating, until you hit that 8!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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