We’ve all heard the classic saying before: Did you drink enough water today? Chances are in most cases we either forget how much water we’ve had, or we know most certainly that we haven’t had enough. And who can blame us? Our modern North American lifestyle has many of us seemingly caught in a constant deluge of working overtime, eating fast food, and for the most part ignoring our true path to optimal health. In these fast-paced times, many of us are looking for simple yet effective information and solutions that can help us win the battle of our personal health. For a moment let’s forget the fad diets, and leave behind those commercials telling you which foods to eat: Let’s focus on water.
From a small age we are taught that we are all composed in large measure of water, in some cases upwards of 55-70%. Having this composition ensures that our basic bodily functions can occur, including digestion, nutrient absorption, circulation, and regulating our body temperature (to name a few). With this in mind, ensuring that we are getting our water is especially vital due to its all-encompassing impact on our health. Consensus estimates state that men should be aiming for about 2.5-3 liters of water, and women around 2-2.5 liters. A popular notion most of us have heard is the “8 by 8” rule when it comes to drinking, which means 8 glasses of 8-ounce fluids. This equates to about 2 liters of water, which for many is a good way to start.
In addition to quite literally “keeping us alive”, water has another crucial function in our path to good health: helping to keep our calories under control. But how so? It is easy to forget that we can also increase our water intake by eating the right foods. That’s right, even food is made up of water just like us. For example, vegetables such as carrots, snap peas, beans and bell peppers compositionally can be made of over 60-70% water, and are packed with nutrients your body needs. Loading up with these and other vegetables/fruits will ensure that you are meeting your caloric intake goals, while giving your body the nutrient dense foods that allow it to optimally perform. Furthermore, higher water volume foods can require more chewing as you eat them, helping you feel more full and ensuring your proper portion sizes.
So it really is safe to say that water has many internal benefits. But what about externally? For starters, your skin needs water to maintain its healthy glow and its function as an external barrier to the outside. Dehydration can lead to your skin looking dry and shriveled, something we can easily avoid by drinking more water and using a moisturizer to lock in that moisture if needed. Moving just below the skin, we have our muscles. Lack of water in your muscles can result in muscle fatigue, stemming from a bad balance of fluids and electrolytes. This is especially true when we workout as our body needs even more fluids to keep us hydrated and performing optimally. That feeling of thirst after working out for an hour? That is your body telling you it needs more fluid and the water you have lost through respiration and sweating needs to be recharged!
As we can see, there are lots of benefits to increasing our water intake that extends to both our physically external, internal, and mental needs. When we lag behind in our water drinking, (more often than not) we can feel it and we know we need to increase our uptake. Some strategies to get started include drinking a glass of water upon waking up, replacing soft drinks/juice/coffee throughout the day with water, or starting to carry a water bottle with you so you can sip throughout the day. So as we go about our nutrition journey and continue to find our healthy balance, remember that your water intake can be a simple but effective step towards an all-encompassing approach to your health, and your well-being. The old saying goes: “we are what we eat”. Perhaps we can amend that statement to say “we are what we eat and drink”. After all, the body cannot live on food alone. We are in control of our health so let’s make water a first step into fulfilling that destiny.