Uncovering Water's Wow Factor

Colorless, odorless, calorie-less, it's hard to see how water is full of goodness for our bodies and our minds. But believe everything you hear about the benefits of water. It has a lot going for it. Way more than soda, which slows you down and increases your risk of diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. No fun. More water equals more fun. Here's why:

Water Keeps You Fit. Countless studies show that replacing sugary drinks, like soda, with water can lead to an annual weight loss of 10-20 or more pounds — without breaking a sweat. It is THE most important dietary change you can make if you currently drink soda. Think you're beating the system with diet sodas? Some sugar substitutes, like sorbitol, can cause intestinal discomfort. Others have made an appearance on lists of potential carcinogens.

Water Makes You Richer. If money is no object, you can skip this paragraph. But if you want to save hundreds of dollars a year, head to the sink or water cooler, drink a cold cup of water and ponder what you'd do with all that easy money. Throw a few bucks toward a take-along thermos so you can avoid buying bottled water wherever your day takes you.

Water Keeps You Cooler. A well-hydrated body keeps the factory called your body from seizing up and breaking down. The human body is more than 60% water, so every sweat bead needs to be replaced from the outside in. Keep in mind that you can sweat just watching tv, and that you even sweat swimming or showering.

Water Keeps Your Moves Smooth. Every system in your body depends on water. Water carries nutrients to your cells, spinal cord and provides a moist environment for sensitive ear, nose and throat tissues. It flushes toxins out of vital organs through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements. If these things don't happen regularly, there's no fun in your future. Dry skin and brittle hair are no fun either.

Water Heals. Arthritis sufferers find pain relief when their joints are well hydrated. Gout sufferers benefit from the flushing aspect of water. Low back pain and arthritis of the spine signal water shortage in the spinal column and discs. Water can cure heartburn, angina, migraines, asthma and colitis. It lowers cholesterol, too. On the other hand, lack of water drains your energy and makes you tired. Click here for your recommended daily water intake.

How much water does your body need?

That depends on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live. The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly 13 cups of total beverages a day. Women should aim for about 9 cups a day.

Can you drink too much? Yes. But it's really uncommon. When your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, who drink large amounts of water, are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults.

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