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Drinking-Water Benefits: How much do we need daily?

When we talk about nutrition and wellness, we tend to think in terms of diets, exercise, or even nutritional supplements. Even the detox process frequently begins with a discussion of the kinds of things we should eat and drink during the detox. We overlook the fact that one of the crucial elements in all of this is to drink water. Beyond maintaining our health, there are important benefits to drinking water. 

Our bodies are about 60 percent water. That is over half the mass of your own body that consists of water. We lose water constantly throughout the day, most through sweating and urine. But even the constant process of breathing expels water. We need to replenish this water constantly or we risk health problems. We cannot emphasize enough the benefits of drinking water. 

Anyone who regularly exercises, or anyone who pays close attention to what they eat, will understand that it is important to drink water. What many of us do not fully understand are the many benefits of drinking enough water. 

What are the benefits of drinking water? How much water should we drink? How to know if you are drinking enough water? This guide will give you all the information you need to understand the many benefits of drinking water.  

Health Benefits of Drinking Water

The old rule has always been to drink 8, 8-ounce glasses of water every day. The science behind this is a little more complicated, but as a general rule, it still holds. Beyond the basic maintenance of your health, there are some serious benefits to drinking enough water. Some of the science-based benefits of drinking water include:

Maximize physical performance

If you are an active person, not drinking enough water can cause your physical performance to suffer. This is especially the case during times of high heat. Dehydration will rapidly and demonstrably impact your ability to perform in exercise or physical competition. 

You will begin to notice a decrease in your ability to perform physically after losing as little as two percent of your body’s water content. Most common athletic activities will cause you to lose 6-10 percent of your body’s water content. 

The loss of water common with physical exercise can alter your body temperature. It can lead to reduced motivation and increased fatigue. In all, the loss of water can make exercise and physical activity much more difficult both physically and mentally.  

By maintaining optimum hydration, you can reduce the oxidative stress that comes with the natural loss of water common to exercise and physical exertions. Simply having a good source of water with you while you engage in physical activities can increase your ability to perform and your motivation to exercise. 

Increased energy levels and brain function. 

Your brain is just as impacted by hydration levels as any other part of your body. Studies have shown that losing as little as 1-3 percent of your normal water levels in your body can have a negative effect on brain function. The effects can affect your mood and your ability to concentrate. It can also lead to fatigue, anxiety, and headaches. 

A loss of 1-3 percent of your body’s water levels will happen in the course of normal activities. This kind of water loss is not the result of exercise or extreme physical exertion. This kind of water loss ultimately results in mood impairment, memory loss, and overall brain performance. 

Simply by staying hydrated, you can increase brain function, improve your mood, and reduce the likelihood of common headaches. 

Can treat headaches

 Dehydration can trigger headaches. Research has shown that the biggest cause of headaches is simple dehydration. Dehydration can lead to common headaches, but it is also a trigger for more severe forms of headaches like migraines. The same studies cited above have shown that drinking water can prevent these types of headaches. 

Staying properly hydrated has also been shown to improve the symptoms of migraines. One study demonstrated that people suffering from acute migraines reported a significant improvement in the severity of their headaches simply by drinking water. 

Can relieve constipation

 Constipation is a common problem characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stool. The most common and primary treatment for constipation is increased water intake.

Dehydration appears to be the primary risk factor for developing constipation in younger and older adults. Simply increasing your water intake can relieve constipation. Some studies have shown that drinking mineral water can be more effective for relieving constipation. It seems the concentration of magnesium and sodium in mineral water improves the frequency and ease of bowel movements. 

May help prevent and treat kidney stones

 Urinary stones, or kidney stones, are clumps of mineral crystals that can form on the urinary system. They are most common in the kidneys. Kidney stones are extremely painful. 

There is evidence to show that increasing the amount of water you drink can help prevent or relieve kidney stones. Increased water intake can also help you pass kidney stones if you have already developed them 

Helps prevent hangovers

What we commonly call a hangover is the collection of negative symptoms that result from drinking too much alcohol.

One cause of hangovers is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic. This means alcohol causes you to lose more water than you take in. Dehydration is a common danger when drinking alcohol. Many people are familiar with the dry mouth that comes with the common hangover. 

While there is no real "treatment" for a hangover, the best way to prevent them and treat them is simply by drinking plenty of water. Hydration will replenish the water in the body, and it will help flush out the toxicity that can build up after drinking too much alcohol. 

Can help with weight loss

Drinking plenty of water can help you lose weight. Drinking plenty of water helps you feel full to prevent overeating, and it helps boost your metabolic rate. 

Studies show that drinking water can increase your metabolism and help you burn calories more efficiently 

The key to drinking water to help with weight loss is timing. The most effective way to drink water for weight loss is to drink water about half an hour before meals. This will help you feel fuller. 

How much water do you need?

While the 8 cups of water rule generally work for most of us, the truth about how much water you need depends on a number of factors. The consensus among healthcare professionals is the following: 

  • 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for women
  • 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day for men

This amount of water includes the water content in other fluids. Things like teas and juice, and even from the food we eat. In fact, we get about 20 percent of the water we require from the foods we eat. 

Other factors that determine how much water you should drink include: 

  • Where you live. You will need more water in hot, humid, or dry areas. You’ll also need more water if you live in the mountains or at a high altitude (3Trusted Source).
  • Your diet. If you drink a lot of coffee and other caffeinated beverages you might lose more water through extra urination. You will likely also need to drink more water if your diet is high in salty, spicy, or sugary foods. Or, more water is necessary if you don’t eat a lot of hydrating foods that are high in water like fresh or cooked fruits and vegetables.
  • The temperature or season. You may need more water in warmer months than cooler ones due to perspiration.
  • Your environment. If you spend more time outdoors in the sun or hot temperatures or in a heated room, you might feel thirstier faster.
  • How active you are. If you are active during the day or walk or stand a lot, you’ll need more water than someone who’s sitting at a desk. If you exercise or do any intense activity, you will need to drink more to cover water loss.
  • Your health. If you have an infection or a fever, or if you lose fluids through vomiting or diarrhea, you will need to drink more water. If you have a health condition like diabetes you will also need more water. Some medications like diuretics can also make you lose water.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding. If you’re pregnant or nursing your baby, you’ll need to drink extra water to stay hydrated. Your body is doing the work for two (or more), after all.

How do I know if I'm drinking enough?

Maintaining a healthy water balance is essential for your health. This is why our bodies have complex systems to sustain water levels. Even thirst works as a mechanism to maintain proper water levels in the body. Your body knows what it needs in terms of hydration, and it can signal you when you need to re-hydrate. 

When you feel thirsty, that is a sign that your water balance is off. You need to re-hydrate to avoid the consequences of dehydration. 

Another sign that your body needs water is the color of your urine. Normal urine is clear to pale. When urine becomes yellow or begins to take on a brown hue, this is a clear sign of dehydration. 

Sticking with the 8 cups of water rule will most often work for you, but this can change according to climate and weather. If you live in a dry climate, you will need to drink more than 8 cups of water per day. Similarly, hot weather demands that we re-hydrate more frequently. 

If you are exercising, or if you are engaged in any kind of strenuous physical activity, it is crucial that you maintain hydration. Physical exertion will rapidly deplete your body of water. It is also helpful to drink a water source that contains additional electrolytes while engaging in physical exertion. These will help your body hold onto the water you drink.  

You also need to pay close attention to your water intake if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is best to talk to your doctor about how much water you should be drinking during these times. 

Other circumstances that call for careful attention to hydration include times when you are ill. Especially if you experience vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, you need to make sure you drink plenty of water.

As we age, it becomes more critical to pay attention to hydration. People over the age of 65 are at a much higher risk of dehydration, and the risks of dehydration become more severe. 

Facts on Drinking Water

60 percent of our bodies are made of water. 

We need approximately 8, 8-ounce cups of water per day to stay healthy. 

Environmental conditions change the amount of water we require. 

Water that contains electrolytes can help with hydration. 

Drinking-Water FAQs

What are some of the health benefits of drinking water? Staying hydrated can help enhance physical performance, help prevent kidney stones, and help you lose weight. 

How much water do we need? We need approximately 8, 8-ounce cups of water per day to stay healthy. 

How do I know if I am drinking enough water? Simple signs that you need to drink more water include thirst and darkened urine. 

What are some factors that determine how much water I should drink? Things to pay attention to with respect to proper hydration include climate and weather, physical activity, and whether or not you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

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