Water consumption is a subject that is often discussed and debated by researchers all over the globe. Water is essential for life, and being adequately hydrated not only has all sorts of physical and mental health benefits but is also a necessity for survival. For years, the universal minimum limit of water consumption, per day, has been eight-ounce glasses. Recently, we’ve been told to drink half of our body weight in ounces, which makes more sense, as this is an individualistic approach, rather than generalising one rule for every person, despite their personal differences.
With all this focus on how much we should drink each day, the question of how we should be drinking water has largely been lost!
Does it even matter?
Water, which comprises around 60%, of the human body, is distributed evenly among the muscles and organs, but how does this distribution take place? It is the blood that helps transport water throughout the body, according to the requirements of every organ and muscle. Blood itself is composed of 83% water, whereas the muscles and tissues contain 76% and 70%, respectively.
What does this have to do with how we drink water?
The statistics above explain the threshold of your body. Any significant fluctuations in this percentage will lead to improper functioning of the body as a whole. The human body is a finely tuned machine that works to distribute bodily fluids as efficiently and effectively as possible to the various tissues, muscles and cells of the body. At least once in our lives, we have all experienced the feeling of being dehydrated; the body signals us to drink more water by inducing a sense of thirst. When we have consumed more water than the body needs to operate, it responds by flushing out excess water to ensure that the correct amount stays within the body.
Now, imagine a case where you have a sudden urge to drink water (obviously, you’re thirsty). Hastily, you gulp down a glass of water, which leads to the improper absorption of water within the body. As mentioned earlier, any excess water in the body is flushed out through urine, which is more likely to happen with gulping.
Are frequent trips to the bathroom a good thing?
This is a common misconception, based on the fact that excretion is a method to get rid of waste from the body. Hence, the more frequently you urinate, the cleaner your body becomes. However, can there be too much of a good thing?
Undeniably, no. When you urinate, your body loses salts along with the excess water collected in the bloodstream. This filtration is carried out by the kidneys. So, when you chug down a considerable amount of water in one sitting, due to the lower absorption levels by the tissues and muscles, in that short period of time, the kidneys end up registering this as excess water and will try to expel it. In such a case, the salts are mixed with this water and will be eliminated from the body.
As your body tries to get rid of the excess (gulped down) water, the sodium level of the blood falls due to the absorption of salts in the expelled water. This can give rise to a condition called hyponatremia, commonly known as water intoxication. This causes exhaustion and headaches, and in extreme conditions, the excess water moves from the blood to the cells, causing them to swell. Swelling in the brain demands immediate treatment.
Yet how can such a simple thing like chugging down water cause such major problems in the body? This very reason is why people undergoing physical exertion are asked to cool down a bit and take sips of water, rather than gulping it down. Their body is losing water through perspiration from their skin and excess evaporation through heavy breathing. Gulping down water will only lead to an even more significant loss of water, indirectly leading to the loss of even more salts from the blood. This causes headache and fatigue. Sometimes, water gets incorrectly stored in the body due to the inefficient functioning of kidneys. This leads to swelling in the legs, as the water starts accumulating in the lower regions of the body through the action of gravity.
Unfortunately, in this busy modern life, it’s difficult to stop and ponder over such seemingly small issues. Also, who has the time for slowly sipping water, rather than finishing it off in one go?
Well, now that you know how important it is for your body to absorb all the goodness of water, I hope you find some quality time for you and your water bottle. The research will continue to provide varied answers to the question of “How much water must we consume daily?”, but what remains universal is that you should sip your water and not chug it down.
For that very reason, certain water bottles have a much narrower opening than you may expect. This forces you to sip every droplet of water, rather than gulping down all at once, to ensure that you are taking enough time and patience for your water consumption as you give to your other responsibilities. Remember, having a successful life means staying healthy too, even if you need to slow down every once in a while!