6 Reasons to Drink Water
It's no magic bullet, but the benefits of water are many.
Americans seem to carry bottled water everywhere they go these days. In
fact, it has become the second most popular drink (behind soft drinks). But
water lovers got a jolt recently when we heard that a new report had found that
the benefits of drinking water may have been oversold. Apparently, the old
suggestion to drink eight glasses a day was nothing more than a guideline, not
based on scientific evidence.
But don't put your water bottle or glass down just yet. While we may not
need eight glasses, there are plenty of reasons to drink water. In fact,
drinking water (either plain or in the form of other fluids or foods) is
essential to your health.
"Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in
liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace
the large amounts of water lost each day," says Joan Koelemay, RD,
dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group.
Kaiser Permanente nephrologist Steven Guest, MD, agrees: "Fluid losses
occur continuously, from skin evaporation, breathing, urine, and stool, and
these losses must be replaced daily for good health," he says.
When your water intake does not equal your output, you can become
dehydrated. Fluid losses are accentuated in warmer climates, during strenuous
exercise, in high altitudes, and in older adults, whose
sense of thirst may not be as sharp.
Here are six reasons to make sure you're drinking enough water or other
fluids every day:
1. Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids. Your
body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids
include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation
of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.
"Through the posterior pituitary gland, your brain communicates with
your kidneys and tells it how much water to excrete as urine or hold onto for
reserves," says Guest, who is also an adjunct professor of medicine at
When you're low on fluids, the brain triggers the body's thirst mechanism.
And unless you are taking medications that make
you thirsty, Guest says, you should listen to those cues and get yourself a
drink of water, juice, milk, coffee -- anything but alcohol.
"Alcohol interferes with the brain and kidney communication and causes
excess excretion of fluids which can then lead to
dehydration," he says.
2. Water Can Help Control Calories. For years, dieters have been
drinking lots of water as a
weight loss strategy. While water doesn't have any magical effect on
weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly
"What works with weight loss is if you choose water or a non-caloric
beverage over a caloric beverage and/or eat a diet higher in water-rich foods
that are healthier, more filling, and help you trim calorie intake," says
Penn State researcher Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Weight