Hydration refers to the process of causing a body or an object to absorb water. It is the replacement of bodily fluids lost through sweating, exhaling, and eliminating waste.
On average, the body loses water and needs to replace about 2 to 3 quarts of water daily. Luckily, many foods we eat are composed mostly of water. Foods with high water content include greens, vegetables and fruits.
Good hydration/drinking enough water each day is crucial for the overall maintenance of good health for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood.
Here are some key aspects that the role hydration plays in our overall health:
1. Cell function
Water is essential for the proper functioning of cells. It helps transport nutrients and oxygen to cells while removing waste products. Maintaining cellular function is crucial for overall health.
2. Temperature regulation
The body uses sweat to regulate its temperature. When you are dehydrated, it is harder for the body to produce sweat and this can lead to overheating and heat-related illnesses.
Hydration is important for digestion. Water is needed to produce saliva and digestive fluids, break down food, and move it through the digestive tract. Dehydration can lead to digestive issues like constipation.
4. Nutrient absorption
Water helps in the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat. It facilitates the movement of nutrients through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream, ensuring that your body can make use of the nutrients you consume.
5. Joint lubrication
Adequate hydration helps keep joints lubricated. When you are well-hydrated, there’s a cushion of fluid between your joints, which can reduce the risk of joint pain and injury.
6. Cognitive function
Dehydration can affect cognitive functions such as concentration, alertness and short-term memory. Even mild dehydration can impair mental performance.
7. Physical performance
Staying hydrated is crucial for athletes and individuals engaged in physical activities. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, and decreased endurance.
Water is essential for the body’s natural detoxification processes. It helps flush out toxins and waste products through the kidneys and urine.
9. Skin health
Proper hydration can contribute to healthy, radiant skin. Dehydration can lead to dry skin, which may be more prone to issues like acne and premature aging.
10. Heart health
Dehydration can lead to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, chronic dehydration may contribute to the development of cardiovascular problems.
11. Weight management
Drinking water before meals can help with weight management by promoting a feeling of fullness and reducing overall calorie intake.
12. Immune function
Staying hydrated can support a healthy immune system. Water helps transport immune cells and antibodies throughout the body.
13. Mood and mental health
Dehydration can negatively impact mood and mental health. Some studies have suggested a link between dehydration and increased feelings of anxiety and depression.
Please note that individual hydration needs can vary depending on factors such as age, activity level, climate, and overall health. As a general guideline, it is recommended to drink about 8 cups (64 ounces) of water per day, but some people may require more or less.
Paying attention to your body’s signals of thirst and urine colour can help you gauge your hydration status. Staying adequately hydrated is a simple yet crucial step in maintaining good health and well-being.
Researched by: Aduloju Oluwatoyosi Afolabi