Water is your body's most important nutrient, is involved in every bodily function, and makes up 70- 75% of your total body weight. Water helps you to maintain body temperature, metabolize body fat, aids in digestion, lubricates and cushions organs, transports nutrients, and flushes toxins from your body.
Everyone should drink at least 64 ounces per day, and if you exercise or are overweight, even more. Your blood is approximately 90% water and is responsible for transporting nutrients and energy to muscles and for taking waste from tissues.
If you are not getting enough water, your body will react by pulling it from other places, including your blood. This causes the closing of some smaller vessels (capillaries), making your blood thicker, more susceptible to clotting, and harder to pump through your system. This can have serious implications in hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Recent studies have also linked the lack of water to headaches, arthritis, and heartburn.
Have you have ever gotten up in the morning feeling bloated, or tried on a ring or shoe that fit yesterday but is too tight to wear today? Chances are your body is trying to tell you something. If you have a problem with water retention, excess salt may be the cause. Your body will tolerate a certain amount of sodium, however, the more salt you consume, the more fluid you need to dilute it. To overcome this problem, always drink plenty of water.
What if I told you that being dehydrated promotes the increase of body fat? Water contributes to energy storage along with glycogen. Without water, extra amounts of glucose remain in the bloodstream until reaching the liver, the extra glucose is stored as fat. Your body takes water from inside cells in an effort to compensate for a dehydrated state, including fat cells. Less water in your fat cells means less mobilization of fat for energy.
One of the liver's primary functions is to metabolize stored fat into energy. The kidneys are responsible for filtering toxins, wastes, ingested water, and salts out of the bloodstream. If you are dehydrated, the kidneys cannot function properly, and the liver must work overtime to compensate. As a result, it metabolizes less fat. So remember, if you are trying to decrease the amount of fat on your body, drink plenty of water.
Luckily, water is a great natural appetite suppressant. There are three ways we get water into our bodies. We get it from the foods we eat, the fluids we drink, and as a by-product of metabolism. It is always better to drink pure water instead of soda, tea, or coffee. These products actually increase your need for fluids because most contain caffeine, which is a diuretic. Diuretics force out stored water along with certain essential nutrients.
Unbelieveably, although unhealthy, the practice of dehydration is sometimes used in sports. Athletes may dehydrate in order to "make weight", competitive bodybuilders may dehydrate before a contest in order to look leaner and more muscular. This is a dangerous habit, as athletes and exercisers need more water than less active people. Reducing water in the body as little as 5% can result in as much as a 20-30% drop in your physical performance, 10% reduction can make you sick, and 20% can mean death. With water pollution on the rise, it is best to drink filtered or bottled water whenever possible.