You've probably often heard the guideline that you should drink at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day. Everyone knows that water is necessary for life and good health, but the actual effects of water on the human body may not be so clear. In truth, water is integral to all biological processes, says MayoClinic.com, and has multiple effects on the body.
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One of water's most important effects on the human body is the way it lubricates your tissues and organs. According to nutrition specialist Linda S. Boeckner of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, your eyes, brain and spinal column are protected by the lubricating effects of water. Water is also a key component of your saliva and digestive juices, whose lubricating effects aid in digestion. The water in your system also helps lubricate your joints. Without proper water intake, these organs and body processes would not function as well as they should.
Water intake plays an immediate and crucial role in temperature regulation, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. When you're drinking adequate water, your body regulates its temperature through perspiration. In the absence of sufficient water intake to replace the fluids we all lose via sweat, respiration, tears and waste products, your body can become unable to perspire enough to regulate your internal temperature. This state of dehydration can lead, most severely, to heat stroke -- a life-threatening situation that can occur if your internal temperature rises uncontrollably.
Another of water's important jobs in the body is to help transport nutrients and chemicals around and through your organs, tissues and systems, says the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Without water, nutrients would have no way to be delivered to your body organs. In addition, water helps move waste through your digestive system and out of your body; this is why increased water intake is often prescribed to alleviate constipation.
So How Much Do You Need?
When you consider how many tasks water performs inside your body, it's easy to see why water intake is so important. But if you're confused by competing theories and guidelines for how much water you really need, you're not alone. However, most doctors recommend you consume about 8 or 9 cups of water per day, says MayoClinc.com. If you're pregnant, nursing, ill or exercising in high heat, you will likely need more. Consult your doctor if you are unsure how much water your body needs to remain healthy.