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5 reasons to stay well hydrated

Here's why that tall drink of water is really good for your body.

One small thing: Not a fan of plain water? Infuse it with lemon, mint sprigs and blueberries for a delicious drink in the hotter months.

The adult human body is made up of largely of water (about 60%), and every single cell, tissue and organ requires water to operate properly.

We lose water from breathing, sweating and digesting food, among others, so it makes sense that we need plenty of hydration to keep our bodies functioning at an optimum. Not doing so can cause dips in energy, loss of concentration and lethargy.

Water also benefits your body in the following ways:

1. Maintains the balance of body fluids
Your body fluids have a number of important functions, including aiding digestion, absorbing and transporting nutrients, creating saliva and maintaining your body temperature.

2. Protects joints, the spinal cord and tissues
Keeping hydrated helps your body retain optimum levels of moisture in your mouth and nose, as well as in the blood, bones and brain. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord and acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.

3. Aids in the removal of waste
Your body excretes waste in three main ways: perspiration, urination and defecation. The organs that are responsible for excretion – the kidneys, liver, skin and large intestine – need water to perform optimally.

4. Maintains energy levels and brain function
About 75% of your brain tissue is made up of water, so it follows that your cognitive functions are affected by the amount of water you take in. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can impair mood and concentration, and increase the frequency of headaches.

5. Prevents kidney damage
Your kidneys regulate fluid in your body. Not getting enough water can lead to kidney stones and urinary tract infections, among others.

In severe cases, dehydration can lead to kidney failure, which can be life-threatening.

How much water is enough?

The amount of water you need depends on many different factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are and whether you have any health conditions. If you're not sure about your hydration level, look at your urine. If it's clear, you're in good shape. If it's dark, you're probably dehydrated.

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