You probably know that the human body can't survive more than about three days without water. But did you also realize that not drinking enough water can speed up your biological aging process and even shorten your lifespan?
Next to oxygen, nothing is as important for human survival as water intake. Proper hydration not only enhances your skin and lubricates your joints but also regulates body temperature, supports healthy body weight, and promotes optimal organ function. Water is involved in millions of cellular processes happening in your body every second.
Given the integral role of water in your overall health, understanding optimal hydration is critical for a healthier, longer life.
In this article, we'll dive deep into the numerous health benefits of drinking water. We'll discuss how water-drinking contributes to longer life, how to determine the right amount of water for your needs, and the mental and physical side effects of dehydration — many of which go unnoticed by those suffering from them.
On average, people who get adequate clean water intake are happier, healthier, and live longer than those who aren’t getting enough fluids.
In fact, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that was published in the journal eBioMedicine, well-hydrated adults have lower occurrences of heart and lung disease as well as other chronic health conditions. Not only that but people with high serum sodium levels, which is a sign of dehydration, biologically aged much faster than those getting enough water.
This is a big deal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic illnesses like heart disease are the top cause of death among men and women in the U.S. One person dies from some form of cardiovascular disease every 33 seconds.
The fact that we can lower the chances of premature death from chronic diseases by drinking a few more glasses of water is profound. And this is just one way drinking water contributes to longer life. Let’s look at other ways water helps us live longer.
Your organs are busy. They are constantly working to keep you functioning and in good health. But there’s not a single activity they do that doesn’t require water. Let’s look at some of the ways your organs use water to function and keep you young.
It's estimated that 73% of your brain's total mass is water. Your brain is the center of your nervous system. This is an electrical system that uses water and electrolytes to send signals from one part of your body to another. Without water, nothing in your electrical system works and your whole body shuts down. This may be why even low levels of dehydration are linked to lowered executive function, slow reaction times, cloudiness, depression, forgetfulness, moodiness, and symptoms similar to dementia.
Staying hydrated keeps you sharp and motivated, contributing to a richer and longer life.
Your heart is the center of your circulatory system. It sends nutrients and oxygen throughout your body through your blood. Water helps thin your blood so it can flow easily and be filtered by your kidneys and liver.
Your heart's rhythm is controlled by your nervous system which relies on water and electrolytes to function. It should be no surprise that your heart is also made of mostly water. In order to send nutrient-rich blood to your brain, muscles, and other organs, it relies on healthy blood vessels and arteries free of plaque and buildup.
Water, physical activity, and a healthy diet helps your heart and circulatory system clean out the toxins and gunk that builds up over time. Water also helps you balance your serum sodium which helps you to maintain normal blood pressure. Studies show optimal fluid levels reduce the risk of heart failure, which is important if you’re interested in extending your lifespan.
Your kidneys are your body’s filters. They are constantly cleaning and filtering your blood of toxins and water helps them flush those toxins. Your kidneys cleanse up to 200 quarts of blood per day and control your water levels by creating urine.
Without enough water to do the job, toxins can build up in your blood. You could also develop kidney stones and urinary tract infections. Excess toxic buildup in the blood can inflame blood vessels (causing plaque buildup to form), create insulin resistance, and disrupt normal hormone production. These are all precursors to metabolic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
You don’t need expensive cleanses if you give your kidneys and liver what they need to function optimally.
Your liver filters your blood of toxins, chemicals, medications, alcohol, and more. It also helps regulate your blood sugar and blood clotting while doing hundreds of other important jobs.
Your liver relies on you being optimally hydrated to function efficiently. Since blood is mostly water, your blood can pass through your liver easily if you’re well-hydrated and it can be filtered effectively. Your filter also needs a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients. Water helps your blood move these nutrients around your body and aides in nutrient absorption.
Nutrients from food are absorbed by your intestines and other parts of your digestive tract. Water not only helps food be broken down into absorbable nutrients but it also helps those nutrients pass through your intestinal walls to be absorbed by your blood.
Without enough water, you can become constipated. Vital nutrients and waste can get stuck inside your colon and cause damage to your pelvic floor, hemorrhoids, and fissures. In extreme cases, this can cause toxins to enter your bloodstream through your colon.
Once nutrients pass through your intestines to your blood, which is mostly made of water, it will be carried to different organs where it will be absorbed.
You might have heard the popular advice of drinking eight glasses of water per day. But what does that really mean? Glasses are all different sizes and even if they weren’t, people are all different sizes. We also have different diets, different levels of physical activity, and we’re different ages.
All of these are very important when determining how much water you should drink for a healthier life. For instance:
If all this sounds complicated, don’t worry. There’s no perfect way to know the exact number of ounces you should drink day to day but there is a good way to estimate that works for most people. Simply divide your body weight in pounds by two. That’s how many ounces of water most healthy people should be drinking.
If you have extenuating circumstances like pregnancy, an illness, or impaired organ function, talk to your doctor to get the number that’s right for you. Similarly, if you’re an elite athlete who sweats a lot, find a sports doctor or nutritionist who can offer you advice for your personal situation.
We all get busy and can forget to drink enough water. Building these water tips into your day can help keep you hydrated and contribute to a longer life.
Eat More Vegetables
Eat foods with high water content like vegetables, fruits, and broth-based soups. Water-heavy foods often also have the benefit of being low in calories and high in life-extending nutrients. This can help you stabilize your weight in a healthy, normal range which is also known to increase lifespan and decrease chronic disease.
Filter Your Water
If you don’t like the taste of your water, you’re not going to want to drink it. Having clean, filtered, great-tasting water on tap will have you reaching for another glass more often.
Manage Your Alcohol and Caffeine Intake
Caffeine and alcohol can contribute to excess urination and dehydration. They also make your liver have to work harder. While there’s nothing wrong with having a morning cup of coffee or kicking back with the occasional cocktail, overindulgence can undo your best hydration efforts.
Make Water Fun
Do you get bored by regular water? Spice it up! Check out these fruit-infused water recipes or experiment and make your own. We think you’ll find you can’t wait to drink more water.
Carry a Water Bottle
Buy a water bottle or insulated tumbler that keeps water cold and can be easily carried with you wherever you go. After all, if you don’t have water readily available, you’re probably not going to drink much.
Understanding how water drinking contributes to a longer life can help give you that little boost toward better habits. Proper hydration improves everything from mood to kidney function to nutrient absorption.
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