Water – An Ignored Nutrient

by Tanya Arora

How often have you heard medical and fitness experts telling you to drink copious amounts of water? Every time you go to them with any kind of problem, that’s the numero uno advice you always get! Why, then, do you ignore the ‘8-glasses of a water a day’ rule? It’s not like you don’t heed their advice when they ask you to up your protein or calcium intake. So it’s really not fair to treat water as the ‘ignored nutrient,’ right?

Water is absolutely crucial for your survival. You can live for just about a week without water, while you can go on 3 weeks without food (1). The humble H2O performs several vital functions in the body. We are here to help you understand its importance for your health and wellbeing. Here’s why water is an important ingredient:

1. Brain Function

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Ever faced concentration issues and blamed it on stress or new love? Well, these are not the only reasons your focus levels might be in trouble. When you don’t have enough water, your brain is unable to concentrate on the tasks at hand. Seventy-five percent of your brain is made up of water. So, when you give it enough H2O, you aid in the elimination of toxins and the efficient transfer of nutrients in your body (2). This helps in better focus and alertness as well as clarity and creativity.

2. Muscle Function

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People often hit the gym with a bottle of water and there’s a reason for that. Your body is made up of over 600 muscles and each of these muscles are 15-20 percent water (3). Water helps in the proper movement of your muscles and even joints. If you’re dehydrated, i.e. your muscles are not lubricated, you’re likely to experience cramps, aches, and pains every time your muscles contract. Even if you don’t work out, water is necessary for your body’s daily movements.

3. Kidney Function

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The kidney is the filter of your body. Its function is to eliminate all the waste in your body via urine by purifying your blood. Other roles of your kidney include keeping your blood pressure in check and ensuring that your blood is able to re-absorb nutrients (4). That said, your kidney is able to perform all its functions properly only when you keep it hydrated. Dehydration can damage your kidneys beyond repair and even lead to urinary tract infections and kidney stones (5). To know if you’re dehydrated, check the color of your urine. Dark yellow color means you are dehydrated.

4. Digestive System Function

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Another area where water plays a crucial role is in the function of your digestive system (6). Not only does it improve the way your digestive system works, but it also enhances your metabolism. Besides, since water aids in the digestion of soluble fiber, it acts as a great cure for constipation. It eases your bowel movements and helps in the formation of soft stools.

5. Fluid Retention

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Fluid retention is a health problem that manifests itself in the form of inflammation on your feet, hands or legs. This condition occurs due to a poor diet, menstruation, medication, sitting or standing for too long and sometimes because of your genes (7). One of the ways you can cure water retention is by having more water. Drinking more water can result in the reduction of swelling and other symptoms of water retention.

6. Athletic Performance

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If you’re into sports, water is an absolute must for you! Water can positively influence your athletic performance (8). The lack of water can result in cramps, decreased stamina and endurance, reduced strength and overall poor athletic performance. Hence, as an athlete, you should ensure that you maintain your body’s water requirements diligently.

If you’re not a fan of water and often forget to sip on this essential drink, we’ve got some tricks for you. These can help you increase your daily water intake. Check them out below:

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  • Flavored water is one way to encourage yourself to have more of H2O. Particularly so if you don’t like its bland taste. You can add ginger, lemon or mint to enhance the taste of water and drink more of it.
  • Gulping a glass of water every time you hit the loo is another way to add water to your timetable.
  • You can also have a glass of water before each meal to make room for more water in your diet. This’ll also help you in eating less, thereby curbing weight gain.
  • If drinking more water is no good for you, try including foods with high water content in your diet. Foods such as lettuce, cucumber, cabbage, watermelon, and spinach can help in increasing your water intake by a lot (9).

We’ve safely established the fact that water is extremely important for your body. So, instead of ignoring this vital nutrient, shift your focus to having more and more of it each day. That’s one way to achieve a healthy and happy life!

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