Water -The Importance of Drinking Water
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March 15, 2009, last updated March 23, 2015

By A. J. Lee, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our Editorial Board,
which includes
Registered Nurses and Certified fitness professionals]

We've heard it all our lives. Drink 8 glasses of water a day.  
But, have you ever wondered why? What exactly are the
health benefits of drinking water, beyond the obvious one
of avoiding dying from thirst?

At birth, your body is composed of about 78% water. Lean
muscle contains more water than fat, and since women
naturally carry more body fat than men, the body of an
adult man has more water (60%) than the body of an adult
woman (55%). However, each of our brains is about 85%

Before we get to the Top 10 reasons you should drink
water, here are some basic facts about the machine you
travel through life with called your body.

By the time you reach the end of puberty, around age 18
for women and 21 for men, two important changes occur.
First, you stop growing.  Second, and this is the key change
most people do not know about, your body starts to slowly
lose its ability to detect that it is thirsty.

This is the reason that so many people in their 20's can get
get in trouble physiologically when they drink alcohol.
Alcohol robs the body of water, and their bodies have
begun to lose the ability to detect that they are quickly
becoming dehydrated.  So, they die of "alcohol poisoning",
which in effect is dehydration. It means that alcohol has
displaced too much water in their bodies. Ironically, they
drink too much but they die of thirst.

By the time you reach 30 and 40, your body has lost about
15% of its ability to detect dehydration. By the time you
are older than 60, you barely even notice when you are
dehydrated. This is why so many elderly people can die so
easily of simple dehydration.

Americans Are Not Drinking Enough Water

We Americans are parched. We're just not drinking enough
water. The best estimate is that Americans on average
drink bout 4 cups of water a day. That's "cups", not full

In fact, 7% of Americans report that they don't drink any
water at all during the day, a 2013 study led by Dr. Alyson
B. Goodman of the Centers of Disease Control reports. As
the study notes: "36% reported drinking 1 to 3 cups, 35%
reported drinking 4 to 7 cups, and 22% reported drinking
8 cups or more."

Here are the Top 10 reasons you should drink  8 glasses of
water a day.

Your Brain Needs Water. Our bodies are 75% water
overall. But or brains are 85% water.  Studies led by
researchers at the University of Montreal of people who
have become dehydrated from illness such as diarrhea and
gastroenteritis have shown that they also often suffer from
a range of neurological impairments, ranging from simple
dizziness, to panic attacks, to depression, to agoraphobia,
the fear of going outside. Dehydrated patients experience
these symptoms after being deprived of water for the first
times in their lives.

There is some evidence that, especially in children,
dehydration disrupts memory and their ability to learn. A
2011 study from the University of Wales Swansea
observed:" After a drink both memory and attention have
been found to be improved."

If you drink 8 glasses of water a day (about 2 liters), that
first glass goes to hydrate your brain. That's the priority of
the body -- it takes care of the brain first.  A brain without
water cannot function. A brain without water is under
severe stress. There is a reason, after all,  that severely
dehydrated people lost in the desert see mirages and other

You Get Dehydrated While You Sleep. We spend about 8
hours a day sleeping. But the process of sleeping, contrary
to popular opinion, is not inactive. We are not dead. We are
merely asleep. Or bodies are active, hard at work pumping
blood, breathing air, refueling muscles, rebuilding cells,
cleansing our blood of toxins and waste. When you are
awake, your sense of "thirst" reminds you to replace the
water that is used up by your body as it works to pump
blood, breathe, etc. But this sense of thirst is not turned on
when you are asleep.

As a result, by the time you wake up, you are dehydrated.

Drink your first glass of water before you are awake an
hour, just to douse the fires of thirst that build up during

In fact before noon, you should drink 4 of the 8 glasses of
water you will take in as a minimum that day. I drink one
full glass of water, one tall glass of lemonade (no sugar)
and two big cups of chamomile tea to get in my 4 before

Water Regulates Blood Sugar. Too little water in your
body increase the concentration of sugar in your blood.
This triggers your body's insulin response. As a result, you
start to crave food. When you crave this food, you're not
really craving food. You're often craving water.

Water Keeps You Feeling Full. A related effect of water
dampening the insulin response is the side benefit that
water has volume. It takes up a lot of space in your
stomach, which stretches your stomach and triggers a
signal to your brain to "stop eating".  I know this from
personal experience and from the experiences of many
other people I know who have dieted.  Notwithstanding
this personal common sense evidence, there are some
scientists who recently have questioned the usefulness of
drinking water to suppress appetite.

5. Cold Water Burns Calories.  If you drink cold water, you
receive the side benefit. Not only do you hydrate your
body, but you burn about 50 to 70 calories a day.

You Lose Water When You Breathe. Most people know
that they lose water when they exercise. But do you know
that simple breathing makes your body lose between 1 and
2.5 quarts of water a day.  If you put a mirror under your
nose, you can see the expiration of water in the form of
condensation on the glass. With every breath you exhale,
you are losing water.

Your Skin Need Water to Stay Moist and Smooth. When
your skin gets dry, what do you do first. Most of us reach
for the creams and oils. But the most common cause of dry
skin is lack of water. We're simply dehydrated.  Again,
there are 2 sides to every story. The same
reports that
question the usefulness of water in quieting your appetite
also question whether water helps to keep your skin
smooth.  From my personal experience, I know that
whenever I drink water regularly and eat plenty of
water-filled vegetables, my skin literally glows.

Your Bones Need Water to Function. Bones become
brittle as we age not only because of lower calcium levels.
Bones need water.  Bones are 22% water and can bceome
brittle without it. Dehydrated, under-watered bones break
more easily as we age.

Your Heart Needs Water to Pump.  Blood is mostly
water,of course. Without sufficient water, our blood
becomes thick. This can lead to increased risk of heart
attack and stroke and
blood clots.

Water Lowers Your Risk for Diabetes. In 2011, a group
of researchers from the University of Paris-Diderot found
that those who drink at least four 8-ounce glasses of water
a day ( 1 liter) have a significantly lower risk for developing
diabetes. The study followed 3,615 people over a 9 year
period. Heavy water drinkers (drank at least 4 glasses a
day) suffered 21% fewer cases of diabetes than light water
drinkers (less than 4 glasses).

Water Calms You. I become nervous and anxious if I
do not drink enough water over a few days. The studies of
dehydrated patients who experience panic attacks suggests
that water does in fact have a role in keeping us calm.


Lithium in Drinking Water Can Change Rates of Depression
and Suicide

Another reason drinking water may keep you calm is that it
may contain
lithium. Water supplies differ greatly in the
amount of lithium they contain. In areas where lithium
content of tap water is high, studies have found lowered
rates of suicide and depression. One landmark study in
1990 examined 27 Texas counties which varied in the
amount of lithium in their drinking water. The study,
conducted by researchers from the University of California
at San Diego, Revelle College at La Jolla, discovereda
startling fact.  Rates of suicide, drug addiction and crminal
behavior were sigificantly lower in counties with high
amounts of lithium in their drinking water.

This led the researchers to controversially suggest that
authorities should add lithium to the drinking water of cities
" as a possible means of crime, suicide, and
drug-dependency reduction at the individual and
community level."

Bottom line.  The balance of real-world experiences and
studies suggest that drinking sufficient water is essential to
our physical and mental health.

You can get water by drinking it or by eating food that
contains water.  In the United States, we get about 78% to
80% of our daily water from water itself and the remaining
20 to 22% from vegetables and fruits that contain water,
according to a 2011 study led by Dr. Barry Popkin of the
University of North Carolina.  In other countries like Greece
and South Korea people "eat their water", obtaining a
much higher percentage of their water from fruits and
vegetables. There is some evidence that eating your water
hydrates you better than only drinking your water.

How much water is enough is still open to debate. The
Food and Nutrition Board from time to time releases daily
intake recommendations for Americans and Canadians. In
2004, it recommended that women get approximately 2.7
liters (91 ounces) of total water each day from a
combination of drinks and foods. Men should take in about
3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water.  No upper limit
was established for water.

So, the old adage of 8 glasses a day works as a starting
point for me.  Try to drink at least this amount. That would
give you 64 ounces.  In addition, "eat your water" too by
having a minimum of 5 servings of water-rich fruits and
vegetables every day.  That should get you to the
recommended minimum of 91ounces of water for women
and 125 ounces of water for men.

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water helps fight diabetes
Drinking water can help prevent diabetes.