As we all know, water is fundamental to human survival— it goes deeper than skincare, general health and overall vitality. It embodies a profound truth about our overall welfare. The benefits of proper hydration extend beyond the surface. It has an impact on cognitive sharpness, emotional stability and even our sleep patterns. Hydration, when optimally sustained, supports our mental acuity, emotional resilience and even the quality of our sleep.
Physiologically, staying well-hydrated keeps our bodily mechanisms in check. It maintains the flexibility of our joints by lubricating them and fostering suppleness and unimpeded motion. It acts as a defence against infections and facilitates the distribution of essential nutrients to our cells, ensuring the smooth functioning of our bodily systems.
How Much Water Should You Drink Daily?
Our body gets its hydration from drinking water as well as from other sources. Keeping that in mind, Harvard Medical School suggests:
“For healthy individuals, the average daily water for men is about 15.5 cups and for women about 11.5 cups. That might mean you need only four to six cups of plain water, depending on other fluid sources such as coffee, tea, juice, fruits, and vegetables”
But it may be surprising to learn that water intake is an individualised number. Numerous elements impact the amount of water you should consume, such as certain health conditions, physical activity, warm climates, elevated altitudes, a diet rich in fibre and increased fluid loss due to caffeine and alcohol consumption.
You can drink plain water or water infused with natural flavours like lemons, berries, oranges or cucumbers. This medley of flavours transforms the act of hydration into a sensory delight, making it a pleasurable indulgence.
But it’s best to stay away from sugar-sweetened beverages when trying to stay hydrated, said Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
How Does Water Work in Your Body?
- Purifies Your System: By consuming water, you facilitate the cleansing of your body by eliminating toxins, primarily in the form of urea. Your kidneys play an amazing role in regulating the fluid balance of the body by filtering harmful waste from your bloodstream, eliminating the waste from the body, cleansing your body from toxins. However, this is possible if your fluid intake remains sufficient.
- Optimises Your Physical Performance: Whether engaging in a sport or everyday activity, your body functions optimally when you maintain proper fluid levels. Sufficient fluid intake enhances endurance, prevents excessive spikes in heart rate and regulates body temperature. Proper hydration also sustains focus and optimises your overall physical capabilities.
- Improves Skin Tone: The skin's hydration mirrors the body's overall hydration status. When an individual experiences dehydration, the outermost skin layer receives a reduced water supply from the circulation due to insufficient water content. Adequate water intake can potentially enhance skin health by promoting an even skin tone.
Helps Your Brain Function Optimally: Insufficient hydration impacts optimal brain functioning, leading to changes in crucial cognitive aspects such as focus, alertness, memory, concentration, perceptual differentiation, arithmetic capability, visuomotor tracking and psychomotor skills.
As per a study carried out at Peking University investigating the subject “Impact of Dehydration and Rehydration”, 12 male participants refrained from water intake for a day and a half. Their cognitive function and mood were assessed both prior to and after the 36-hour period. The study's findings indicated that inadequate hydration negatively influences energy levels, attention, focus and even short-term memory.
- Supports Healthy Digestion and Bowel Movements: Experts confirm that water holds significant importance in facilitating the effective digestion of food by aiding in its breakdown, enabling easy absorption of nutrients by the body. Within the guidelines provided by the World Gastroenterology Organization for managing constipation, an elevated intake of water is recommended as a component of the treatment approach as it improves bowel movement.
- Supports the Functioning of Joints and Muscles: Insufficient hydration can cause uncomfortable muscle cramps. In the absence of adequate fluid, both muscles and joints can become tense. Sufficient water consumption aids in the production of synovial fluid within the joints. This fluid serves as a lubricant and minimises friction in joints during movement. As a result, the muscles and joints of the body respond well during physical exertion.
- Prevents Headaches: A headache is a sensation of discomfort resulting from the inflammation of structures inside or outside the skull that possess pain receptors. Insufficient water intake can be one of the reasons for triggering headaches. According to an assessment conducted by the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery of the UK, headaches caused by ‘water deprivation’ generally manifest within 8-16 hours of commencing fasting and can be alleviated within minutes by consuming water.
How Does Water Work For Your Skin?
- Maintaining Skin Barrier Function: The outermost layer of your skin, called the stratum corneum, acts as a barrier to protect your body from external factors like bacteria, pollutants, and UV radiation. Proper hydration helps maintain the integrity of this barrier, ensuring it functions effectively.
- Preventing Dryness: When your skin lacks hydration, it can become dry, flaky, and rough. Hydrated skin feels soft and smooth, while dry skin can become irritated and itchy.
- Promoting Elasticity: Hydrated skin is more elastic and supple. This elasticity helps prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, making your skin look and feel youthful.
- Temperature Regulation: Properly hydrated skin helps regulate your body temperature by allowing sweat to evaporate from your skin's surface. This is crucial for keeping your body cool in hot conditions.
- Wound Healing: Hydration plays a vital role in the wound healing process. Well-hydrated skin can heal more efficiently, reducing the risk of infection and scarring.
- Radiant Appearance: Hydrated skin has a healthy, radiant glow. Dehydrated skin can look dull and tired.
How to Stay Hydrated
- Start your day by consuming a glass of water.
- Add fresh vegetables and fruits to your diet.
- Replace sugary beverages with water.
- Be attentive to your body's signals and maintain awareness of your thirst.
- Enhance the appeal of your water by infusing it with fruits or vegetables.
- Use skincare products that hydrate your skin and prevent moisture loss.
- Avoid harsh soaps and very hot showers that cause moisture loss from the skin.