Feb. 25. 2014
Nutrition Articles
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder and CEO

Drinking more water is incredibly beneficial to your overall health.

Did you know the body is made up of about 55-60% water? It’s also responsible for every process in the human body which is pretty amazing for something that many of us take for granted. If you’re not drinking enough water you may not be giving your body enough fuel to combat everyday stresses, fight fatigue, keep your digestion moving, your metabolism efficient, supple skin, along with many others. Whether it’s experiencing sweating in the summer heat or dry skin in the winter chill, water is key to keeping our bodies healthy on a cellular level.

Water is made up of 2 hydrogen atoms + 1 oxygen atom = hence the scientific name for water of H2O. It’s an odorless and tasteless liquid, but also can exist in the solid state (think ice) and gaseous state (think steam or water vapor). Humans, animals, and plants all need water to survive and thrive, but why do humans? Here are just a couple of the many reasons why drinking more water is beneficial to our overall health.

Wonderful water. In the human body, as mentioned earlier, water has a role in metabolism, cellular membrane function, regulating our body temperature (sweating is a great example), aiding in digestion to breakdown foods, helps deliver oxygen throughout your entire working body, aids in digestion from saliva production (which also houses digestive enzymes), lubricates joints, flushes unwanted toxins from the body (mostly in urine and bowel movements), helps our beautiful brains create hormones and neurotransmitters, keeps our mucosal membranes moist (think of your lung and digestive tissues), transports nutrients from our foods (especially water soluble vitamins), and keeps our cells rejuvenated, reproducing, and surviving. We literally can not live without water.

How much do you need? This is a great question and it depends on many things, but in general 8-10 cups/day. You’ll need increased amounts if you exercise and sweat, if you’re active throughout the day, if you’re not eating enough water containing foods, or if you eat a high fiber diet. Also, pay attention to the color of your urine – ideally it should be pale yellow/clear, and if it’s dark yellow this a good indicator you may need much more water! (Also beets may turn some individuals urine a reddish color, but other than that a red tint to your urine is not normal and you should contact your doctor). 

5 Reasons to Drink Water |

  1. Digestion. From rehydrating after diarrhea to keeping things moving and preventing constipation and general digestive health, water plays a vital role in your digestion. Your large intestine is responsible for pulling water back from the colon if you’re dehydrated after not drinking enough water, which may increase the risk of constipation. Prevent it by making sure you’re drinking water all day long and eating high water containing foods like fruits and vegetables daily.
  2. Weight loss. Did you know when we feel hungry we may actually just be thirsty?  Staying hydrated not only keeps your hunger cues more accurate, but you’re also more likely to not mistake thirst for hunger. Water also has been shown to increase thermogenesis, which may aid in weight loss.
    • Try this: when you feel hungry, drink 1 glass of water, wait 10-15 minutes and reassess your hunger cues. If you’re still hungry you may be experiencing true hunger, and if your hunger subsides you may try drinking a bit more water to see if you’re just thirsty.
  3. Kidney/liver health. Water helps both the kidneys and liver flush out toxins and any other by-products from metabolism that are no longer needed in the body. The kidneys’ main job is removal of waste, and you can ensure this process keeps going smoothly by drinking enough water to stay hydrated and give room for the kidneys to do their thing and maintain balance.
  4. Headaches. Suffer from migraines or headaches? Studies have shown that simply being dehydrated can be a trigger for headache sufferers. Try this: if you’re prone to headaches and migraines, keep water nearby and be mindful of drinking enough during the day. If you are experiencing a headache, try drinking 2 cups of water – sometimes symptoms subside or lessen within 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Fitness. From swimming in it for aerobic activity, drinking it to rehydrate after an intense workout, or using it to ice our legs after a workout to decrease pain (maybe not swelling), water has an important role in physical fitness. Not to mention, it’s energizing and keeps our mental focus sharp and alert- both essential for a great mind-body connection.
  6. *BONUS* It tastes delicious. Some of the most delicious whole foods are full of natural water such as raw fruits, vegetables, all natural smoothies or juices (especially watermelon, celery, cucumber, zucchini, and more). Not only are you hydrating yourself by eating these foods, but you’re also consuming vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants at the same time – added bonus!

Safe drinking water. Drinking water obviously is important for the human body, but the source of our water is just as important. Water can include various pollutants from manmade materials, heavy metals, naturally occurring chemicals like arsenic, factory farming practices with water run off, sewage leaks, waste practices, improper chemical discarding (think of prescription medication down the drain or other harmful chemicals), and general environmental toxins. Luckily, if you’re living in a developed country you’re fortunate to have clean drinking water. The US also has the EPA and other resources provided that can help us view the quality of our drinking water.


But wait! Bottled water isn’t better. Take a look at one documentary which I found interesting called Tapped (find it on the Resources page). Here are some products I enjoy for clean water: Brita water filters/pitchers, faucet water filters, shower water filters, water filter bottles for on-the go, and my all time favorite BPA free water bottles. Perfect to keep one in the house, the car, the gym bar, the office, etc.

I leave you today with a challenge for your weekend and for life! Try to drink at least a general recommendation of 8-10 glasses water/day or until the color of your urine is pale yellow-clear, which is a much better indicator of hydration. Note the changes you experience and find fun ways to drink water- like my Simply Infused Water.

Are you up for the challenge?
Have a good weekend,

xx McKel

Nutrition Stripped news // see Nature’s Remedy, Water! post on juice. Nashville.

p.s. Love this health and nutrition post and want to read more? Check out other posts in the Spotlight series to learn more about your favorite fruits, veggies, superfoods, and more.