Many years ago, I had a high school chemistry teacher who introduced the class to a very intriguing type of molecule. “It is the single most addictive thing on Earth,” he claimed and emphasized the fact that it was present nearly everywhere. “But tread carefully,” he shared, “Because you will literally die without it.” In fact, our bodies become so dependent on this substance that it only takes a few days without access for a complete shutdown and death to occur.
As we frantically demanded the name of this substance, our teacher replied with an ominous-sounding name: Dihydrogen Monoxide. While my ninth-grade self was admittedly annoyed to find out that “dihydrogen monoxide” was the chemical name for water, the teacher’s point still stands – the entire living world, from the earthworm to human, is dependent on this substance.
Water is crucial for virtually all body processes that are essential to our health. It helps regulate homeostasis. Homeostasis refers to the system that keeps our bodies on an even keel – whether this is maintaining a stable 98.6-degree temperature or keeping our blood pressure steady, water is the primary reason we don’t slip into a feverish state with relative frequency.
Beyond homeostasis, water is helpful for lubricating and cushioning joints and protecting sensitive organs, tissues, and nerves like those in our spinal cord. Water boosts skin health and delivers oxygen throughout the body. And, water is also necessary for the regular evacuation of bodily waste through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.
According to Medical Daily, 75% of adults in the United States suffer chronic dehydration, averaging 2.5 cups of water a day. And in severe cases, dehydration can lead to kidney failure, which can be life-threatening. Possible complications include heart failure, central nervous system damage, anemia, and a compromised immune system.
Despite all the benefits, many people often struggle with adequate daily water intake. Busy schedules are one of the main culprits. There are a few ways to manage this, however. One is keeping a personal bottle at your side. There are all kinds of reusable bottles available at grocery stores, Target, mini-marts, and other retailers. Some experts suggest having a bigger refillable bottle is better – as your brain will want to drink as much as possible while it’s in front of you – whereas you won’t be thinking about it the same way when relying on a drinking fountain.
Another effective mental trick is ordering water in place of other drinks. When out at a restaurant it can be tempting to go for the sugar rush of a soda, the pick-me-up of an afternoon caffeinated beverage, or a glass of wine or beer to relax with. Substituting at least one of those beverages for water is a great way to add to your water intake! While it might sting at first, the dissatisfaction generally fades quickly, and soon the idea of a soft drink will be a distant memory.
Medical News Today shares that hydration is crucial for our well-being but that most people do not stay properly hydrated. Their website adds:
- Humans are 60 percent water, and our blood is 90 percent water.
- Water is essential for the kidneys and other bodily functions.
- When dehydrated, the skin can become more vulnerable to skin disorders and wrinkling.
- Water boosts performance during exercise.
- Drinking water instead of soda can help with weight loss.
Raise a glass of water and remember – it’s to your health!