When Bridget Bell’s husband retired, he took up baking as a hobby, making lots of bread, cookies and other treats.
So she decided to get healthier, including drinking more water. Not only has more water helped Bell lose weight, but she also lowered her cholesterol and no longer takes acid reflux prescription medicine.
“It’s a habit that helps me feel in control,” says the 65-year-old Dallas resident. “I definitely have improved my health.”
Water — whether tap, bottled or sparkling — is a magic elixir. It contains no sugar, zero calories and makes you feel full, so it helps manage your weight. It also provides many other benefits, including keeping skin supple, regulating blood pressure and helping muscle function.
Hydration is vital for the human body, says Dr. Sarah Ross, a physician and assistant professor of internal medicine and geriatrics at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, yet many people don’t drink enough water. About half of your body is made up of water, and all of your organs contain water.
“Water helps the body function properly,” Ross says. “You have more energy, more focus.”
It helps cognitive function, heart function and kidney function. The kidneys flush out the body’s toxic waste through urine. Blood, high in water, helps deliver oxygen and nutrients through the body to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar and body temperature. Other water perks include lubricating joints and muscles so they perform better, aiding digestion by forming saliva and mucous, improving skin hydration and reducing allergy and asthma symptoms by keeping airways open and thinning mucous.
Good hydration also reduces the risk of more serious conditions, such as high blood pressure and kidney stones, experts say.
Dehydration, on the other hand, can cause muddled thinking, headaches and heart stress. Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, dark urine and muscle cramps.
How much is enough?
“Almost everyone I come into contact as a client is dehydrated in some form,” says Dallas wellness coach Megan Lyons of The Lyons Share Wellness.
Many people say they don’t get thirsty, but Lyons explains that’s because aging reduces the body’s thirst signals. She suggests gradually increasing your water consumption each week.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that women drink 91 ounces of water a day and men 125 ounces, but it really depends on your body weight, your activity level and the environment.
A simple rule of thumb is to drink in ounces at least half of your body weight per day. If you weigh 140 pounds, drink 70 ounces of water. About 20 percent of your daily fluid intake comes from food like fruit and vegetables.
Why you may need more
Older adults should drink even more water because their reserves are lower, Ross says. If you exercise a lot or live in a hot, humid climate, you may need more water because your body loses water and electrolytes (sodium, chloride and potassium)…
Read more:: As we age, the need for water rises