The Health Benefits of Drinking Water

Facts Sourced from August 10, 2021, Fullscript Blog, Dr. Holly Lucille, ND, RN

The human body is made up of 60% water. For our body and mind to thrive, hydration is a critical factor. As Charleston Summer’s melt into over 100-degree heat index, water intake is a critical part of maintaining optimum physical and cognitive function. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the brain and heart, the lungs, and the kidneys and muscles are composed of 73%, 83%, and 79% water, respectively. All these body parts crave hydration and are responsible for several critical functions, including:

-Acting as a shock absorber in the brain and spinal cord
-Creating saliva and tears
-Delivering oxygen throughout the body
-Keeping mucous membranes moist
-Lubricating joints
-Providing cells with hydration needed for their reproduction and survival
-Regulating body temperature through sweat
-Removing waste products from the body (29)

Staying hydrated ensures that the body can support digestion and metabolism.
Per Fullscript’s recent blog on the benefits of hydration, “Drinking water with a meal promotes the secretion of gastric acids that help break down food you eat. (16) Water also helps dissolve water-soluble vitamins, including vitamin C and the B vitamins, and transport them to the rest of your body for use. (20)”

Do you struggle with constipation? Drinking water can help alleviate constipation and increase stool frequency.

A bonus, drinking water also increases your metabolism and aides in weight loss.
“One small study involving 14 healthy men and women found that drinking just 17 ounces of water increased metabolic rate by an average of 30% for upwards of an hour, peaking at 30 to 40 minutes after drinking. (7) These metabolic benefits may also play a role in enhancing exercise performance and weight loss,” shares Fullscript’s Dr. Lucille.

Studies show that drinking water can trigger thermogenesis (the production of heat in the body), thus enhancing weight loss.

Hydration improves and maintains cognition.
The amount of water you drink can also affect your cognitive abilities. Dehydration decreases concentration, alertness, short-term memory, math skills, perception, and psychomotor skills. (2)

What amount of water should you drink?
Knowing that we should drink water and drinking enough water to ensure the many benefits of hydration are not always the same thing. Your gender, climate, and activity levels all play a role in determining how much water you need daily.

Per The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, here is a guide for your water intake:
Men: 125 ounces every day
Women: 91 ounces. (28)
Note: For those living in a hot climate or are very physically active, you will likely need to increase your intake.

A simple hydration check and balance can be determined by the color of your urine.
Clear or a pale-yellow color urine = well-hydrated
Bright or dark yellow urine = dehydrated

What type of water is best to drink?

Tap water
Good. Tap water in most of North America is safe to drink and is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Add a water filter to improve taste.

Spring water
Caution. While spring water is marketed as being bottled at the source of a spring or glacier, laboratory testing by the Environmental Working Group found that many popular brands of bottled water contain disinfectant byproducts, industrial chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs, and bacteria. (11)

Distilled water
Just ok. Distilled water, typically found in areas where water is contaminated, is produced by boiling water then collecting and condensing the steam. It lacks the beneficial minerals found in tap and spring water.

Electrolyte water
Electrolyte water contains sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium and may be beneficial if you live in a hot climate, are vomiting or have diarrhea, or work out intensely for an hour or more.

Alkaline water
Alkaline water includes of alkaline minerals and acts as a pro-oxidant or an antioxidant. More research is needed to determine its benefits and efficacy.

Mineral water
Rich in minerals such as sulfur, magnesium, and calcium, mineral water is sourced from underground mineral springs. Studies suggest that drinking mineral water may lower blood pressure in people with low magnesium and calcium levels. (25) Other research reports that drinking mineral water may also contribute to healthy bones. (9)(21)

Sparkling water
Natural sparkling water may contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, silicon, and strontium. (14)(23) Most sparkling waters on the market will list the source of its bubbles either on the label or on their website.

A few other tips to remember about staying hydrating are:

  1. Once you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
  2. Avoiding soft drinks and alcohol, which are dehydrating, can help you maintain a healthy hydration level.
  3. Adding hydrating foods to your diet is an easy way to increase your water intake.
  4. Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go for easy access to water.
  5. Add sliced fruit or cucumbers to your water to enhance the flavor.

Foods High In Water Content

Summer squash
Watermelon (22)