Did you know the human body is approximately 60 percent water, but that we constantly lose water through breathing, urination, and sweating? Water is also a significant part of our body’s temperature control system and needs to be continually replaced. If we lose more water than we take in, we risk becoming dehydrated and succumbing to heat illness such as heat stress, and worse.
Dehydration can cause headache and joint pain, fatigue, overheating and increased ergonomic risk. Hydration level can also affect your decision making, alertness and reaction time making it a crucial component of job safety. Certainly staying hydrated merits a mention in our daily safety briefings. Maintaining a steady supply of water throughout the workday, whether in a plant or field setting, is strongly recommended.
Water can do wonders for brain function, digestion, joint health, weight loss, and your overall health. Here are five reasons you should be drinking more water.
1. Water helps your brain work optimally.
Dehydration causes brain tissue to shrink, which means your brain needs to work harder to perform tasks than it would if you were properly hydrated. A hydrated brain helps you think clearly, alleviates confusion, and even improves your mood.
Drinking more water helps improve your attention span, memory, and motor skills, too. If you’re stuck in class or in meetings all day, bring a water bottle along with you to keep your brain in top shape.
2. Water keeps things moving through your gut.
Foods with fiber—fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—absorb water as they move through our digestive tracts. This bulks them up and stimulates our colons to contract and push waste out. If you’re dehydrated, your colon does not get this signal, which can cause waste to build up in your system. Staying properly hydrated improves digestive function to reduce the risk of colon and bladder cancer.
3. Water helps your body remove toxins.
The digestive and endocrine systems are responsible for waste removal, but these organs and glands can’t do their jobs when they are not properly hydrated. Instead, toxins get stored in the cells, which can cause inflammation and illness.
Drink more water to help your kidneys remove toxins from the body and prevent kidney stones. Staying properly hydrated also removes the toxins that can cause body odor—an added bonus!
4. Water fights inflammation and lubricates joints.
Being dehydrated causes your body to hold onto excess water and store it in the space between your cells. This causes swelling, especially in the extremities. In addition to reducing inflammation, water removes toxins from your joints and helps keep joints lubricated. The water in cartilage keeps it soft and supple so it can continue to protect your joints. Do you have knee pain with no apparent reason? Try bumping up your water intake, you may be surprised at the relief this simple change brings.
5. Water helps you lose weight (and keep it off).
When it comes to weight loss, water is a one-two punch: it is a natural appetite suppressant and it helps your body metabolize stored fat. In other words, it keeps you feeling full while reducing fat deposits. It’s a common misconception that drinking more water will make you retain more water—the opposite is true. Consistently drinking your full quotient of water tells your body it does not have to store and conserve it so you retain less water. Drinking water before a meal helps you eat less and foods with high water contents require more chewing and are digested more slowly, keeping you feeling full afterwards.
Remember to drink water throughout the day before you feel thirsty. If you are working with others take regular team water breaks or pass out water bottles at regular intervals with a reminder to drink up.
Water is a wondrous liquid that’s necessary for virtually every function in our body. Generally, adults should consume a minimum of eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day, or half their body weight in ounces. For a 160-pound individual, that means 80 ounces of water a day, including water consumed through food (soup, the water in lettuce, etc.). You’ll know you’re hydrated if your urine is a light, yellow color and you need to urinate frequently throughout the day.
For some of us, drinking more water is a chore. I have a plan to get you drinking more water—and enjoying it—in just 21 days. Fill out the form on this page to download the 21 Day Hydration Plan.
Author: Maria Sall, Five Reasons You Should Drink More Water
Copyright 2020: Tailored Injury Prevention Solutions, Inc.
Maria Sall, EP, CEAS, CSCS
Ergonomist, Injury Prevention Specialist
Building Health and Preventing Injuries Since 1994
“Improving your water intake is one simple and inexpensive step, that when taken over and over, can significantly improve your health and your quality of life.” Maria Sall, TiPS