The Benefits of H2O
by Gayle Cottrill
Most people have probably heard you should drink at least eight cups of water every day. While that is the average recommended for adults, the amount of water each person needs is different per person, depending on age, gender, and activity level.
Adult bodies are about 60% water and children have a slightly higher level. Children also deplete their body’s water source quicker and are more prone to dehydration than adults. So, the younger you are, the more important it is to stay hydrated.
For adults, calculate how much water you should drink each day by dividing your weight in half and drinking that many ounces. So, for an adult who weighs 200 pounds, they should drink 100 ounces (or 12.5 cups) of water every day. However, to know the most accurate amount of water you should drink daily, consult your healthcare provider. If you exercise or do a lot of physical labor, especially in hot environments, you may need to drink more.
Why is it important to drink so much water every day? The simple answer is if our bodies are 60% water, we need to keep that water level stable. The more complete answer is that our bodies need water to perform many functions to keep us healthy. Here are several ways water helps our body function, and each works best when we are fully hydrated.
- Aids in digestion
- Helps flush our gastrointestinal tract
- Transports nutrients
- Keeps joints lubricated
- Prevents muscle fatigue
- Helps keep kidneys healthy
- Can lower heart rate and body temperature while exercising
Water can also aid in lowering calorie intake and can play a role in weight loss and weight management. Drinking water alone won’t necessarily do it but choosing to drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda, juice, and wine or high caloric beverages like beer, can make a huge difference. If you also choose foods that are high in water content, like many fruits and vegetables, you can both add water to your diet and provide your body with healthier sources of sugars and calories. Drinking water and eating water-rich foods can also leave you feeling fuller, which helps cut snacking. I’ve personally found if I reach for my water bottle when I think I want to eat but am not super hungry, water takes the edge off. And choosing water over a soda repeatedly will help wear down the craving for that fizzy soft drink.
If you are not someone who enjoys drinking plain water, there are ways to spruce up the drink. Carbonated water or tea, iced or hot, can be great alternatives. And finally, one of my favorite things to do, especially on hot summer days, is to infuse water with fruit and herbs. You don’t need a fancy infuser to do it; any pitcher or large glass can work. Simply add the fresh ingredients and let it sit for a few hours in the fridge. Here are some combinations to get you started:
- Strawberry + jalapeno, basil, mint, or lime
- Lemon + basil or raspberry
- Lime + mint or raspberry