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Water is an essential nutrient and a major building block of life that your body needs to function properly. The human body is 60 percent water, and water is a major component of your body’s fluids, such as your blood, joint cartilage, saliva and urine. Since your body is made up of primarily water, it requires a lot of fluid to carry out important functions, such as delivering nutrients and oxygen to different parts of the body, eliminating waste, maintaining proper digestion, stabilizing blood pressure and heart rate, lubricating joints, protecting organs and tissues, regulating body temperature and balancing electrolytes. Water is so important for your survival that going without it for three to four days leads to death.

It’s no question that drinking water is a mandatory part of everyone’s daily routine, but just how much water you need varies depending on the individual. There’s a lot of debate surrounding humans’ required water intake, but health officials generally recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses every day, which is the same as two liters or half a gallon of water. Other factors, like body size, body composition, activity levels, climate temperatures, health conditions and medications can influence your water intake and affect whether your body loses or retains fluids. But, as a general rule of thumb, eight glasses is optimal.

Although drinking water is necessary for your health, drinking too little or too much can lead to serious consequences. Dehydration is correlated with headaches, dizziness, fatigue, weakness, low blood pressure and cognitive impairments. If you consume more water than your body can handle, symptoms include nausea, headaches, confusion or disorientation. And if you don’t treat overhydration, you may experience more threatening symptoms due to low levels of sodium in your blood.

When you find that sweet spot and fill up on a sufficient amount of fluids, you’ll notice an abundance of health benefits. Increasing your water intake promotes weight loss by increasing your satiety and metabolism, so you end up eating less and burning more calories throughout the day. Plus, choosing water rather than alcoholic or sugary beverages reduces your overall caloric intake, resulting in weight loss.

Water is also a secret weapon when it comes to peak physical and cognitive performance. Nutrients in water rejuvenate muscles, remove waste and lubricate joints, so it gives you enough energy to power through your workouts. Losing as little as 2 percent of your body’s water content can impair your physical performance and increase your risk of dehydration. Not only will your body operate more efficiently, but also, your brain will get a boost. Drinking enough water sharpens your mind by improving focus, concentration, attention and memory.

If you struggle to guzzle down enough water on a daily basis, there are plenty of practical ways to increase your water consumption and keep your body hydrated. As soon as you wake up, start your day by chugging a glass of water, and drink a glass 30 minutes before every meal for increased satiety. Make sure to carry a full water bottle with you at all times of the day, whether that be on your trip to the grocery store, in front of your computer at work or in the comfort of your own home. And whenever you dine out, opt for water instead of sweetened cocktails or sugary sodas.(Your body and wallet will thank you.) If you really can’t stand the taste of water, add a hint of flavor by tossing in a squeeze of lemon or lime, cucumber slices or crushed mint.

You can also incorporate lots of foods with a high water content into your diet. Many fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, melons, grapes, apples, oranges, tomatoes, carrots, celery and spinach, are super hydrating and nutritious. When you follow a diet full of water-rich foods and beverages, your body will reach its maximum potential.

Categorized under Nutrition