Simply stated, hydration is crucial to our survival. Water is the body's essential chemical component and, therefore, drinking an adequate amount daily is a vital first step to enjoying good health.
Basically you can think of the human body as a machine that needs water for three vital functions: 1) To maintain normal performance levels; 2) For temperature control; and 3) To help process every biological, mechanical, and chemical action that takes place in your body.
Any loss of water can cause malfunction, downtime, and can even be devastating to the machine's well-being. In addition, not only is your body comprised of a large percentage of water, it is constantly losing water in ways you may not be aware of. So replacing that water constantly is vitally important.
Water is so important to the body that it takes priority even over food. In fact, the average person of normal weight can go for 30 days without eating. Yet, if that same person goes for just 72 hours without drinking, he or she cannot live.
Staying properly hydrated enables our bodies to:
So how do we stay properly hydrated? Many subscribe to the 8-by-8 rule which says that eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day for adults are sufficient to stay properly hydrated. While this is an easy rule to remember, it's not supported by any hard evidence.
- Flush toxins out of vital organs.
- Carry nutrients to cells. (Water dissolves more substances than any other liquid carrying chemicals, minerals, and nutrients with it.)
- Keep ear, nose, and throat tissues moist.
- Lubricate joints.
The Institute of Medicine says that adequate intake (AI) of water for a man is about 13 cups of total beverages daily; AI for a woman is about 9 cups. This would necessarily exclude caffeinated beverages which act as diuretics preventing water from going to necessary locations in the body. So water is indeed preferable to soft drinks, coffee, or tea for hydration purposes.
(Note: We gratefully acknowledge the following source of information: www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283.)