You’ve likely grown up hearing you need to drink water, and maybe you just accepted that truth and never questioned why it’s so necessary. The fact is, we’re largely made up of H2O—around 60 percent of our body is water. We lose a lot of it every day, and we need to replenish those fluids to stave off dehydration.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights some of the important roles water plays for our bodies: It removes wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements; keeps the body temperature normal; lubricates and cushions joints; and protects sensitive tissues like the spinal cord.
If we don’t get enough water and become dehydrated, we can get headaches and feel dizzy, fatigued and downright irritable.
There are many positive impacts water has on our health and wellbeing. Some may surprise you. Here are five additional reasons water is important in our diets:
Water helps with brain function: Many studies have shown that having a water deficit can impair our cognitive performance, making it harder to focus and control motor coordination, for instance. The University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory says even mild dehydration, which it defines as an approximately 1.5 percent loss in normal water volume in the body, can alter our ability to think clearly.
Water is a weapon against stinky breath: Saliva helps wash away bacteria that makes breath smell bad, and we produce less saliva when we’re dehydrated.
Water aids in the final step of digestion: Not drinking enough fluids is among the top causes of constipation. Water can help keep stool soft and on the move.
Water helps fight off infections: You’ve probably heard that getting enough sleep and eating right play roles in keeping our immune system healthy, but drinking water is also in the mix. Water aids in keeping elements of the immune system in sync and flushes out waste that could weaken it.
Water helps prevent kidney stones: The National Kidney Foundation says drinking too little water can be a possible cause of kidney stones, the hard and often painful deposits that form when urine becomes too concentrated with waste products. “Kidney stones form less easily when there is sufficient water available to prevent stone-forming crystals from sticking together,” notes the organization.
People often wonder what water can do for their skin. It may be a beauty secret for some, but there’s actually not a lot of research that shows sipping water keeps skin looking healthy. “The unfortunate truth about drinking water and skin is that water will reach all the other organs before it reaches the skin,” according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health. (There’s a reason why supermarkets have a dizzying array of lotions and moisturizers to hydrate skin.)
Also worth noting is that dehydration may not affect us all equally. A University of Connecticut researcher says women appear to be more susceptible to the effects of mild dehydration than men.
In addition, the Mayo Clinic says older adults are often at greater risk of being dehydrated due to a number of factors. They may have certain conditions or take medications that increase the chances of dehydration, for example. Also, an aging body is less able to conserve water, and many elderly don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated.
Water is unique in its ability to provide so many advantages for our wellness, and it also dissolves more substances than any other liquid. Being such a distinctive solvent could pose a problem for water you drink, however. You may not want to taste and smell all the minerals and salts your water has absorbed on its journey to your tap. You definitely don’t want to ingest it if it has picked up elevated levels of contaminants like lead or arsenic.
Reverse osmosis systems can help reduce what are known as total dissolved solids, or TDS, in your water – as well as many other unwanted contaminants. You can install these water filtration systems under the kitchen sink or hooked up to an icemaker or refrigerator’s water dispenser.
Reverse osmosis can produce refreshing water that you can drink as well as use for cooking or to improve other beverages like tea. Having an endless supply of crisp, filtered water on hand can help you drink the amount you should consume each day to keep dehydration from creeping up on you—and there’s nothing surprising about that.