How Hydration Affects Your Health (And Why Water Quality Matters)

Make Well - hydration

This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany*

Water is the key to life. Without it, nothing on the planet would be sustainable. Plants need water to help transport nutrients, and humans and animals use water in the regulation of all bodily functions. To say that hydration is the number one key to health would be an understatement.

The history of clean drinking water dates back as far as the 9th century B.C., when Hippocrates developed a cloth bag that could help filter impurities from boiled water. In the decades that followed, the Greeks and Romans began building their own filtration systems. It wasn’t until later in the 18th century that clean filtration systems began to take precedence in most communities. Later in the century, it was shown that cholera cases began to decrease in areas with filtration systems. Finally, in the 19th century, the importance of filtering water took hold around the world.

Not all water is good, though. It can harbour dangerous illnesses, such as the aforementioned cholera, and this can lead to illness or even death if the water isn’t purified of these deadly bacteria.

What does proper hydration do for your body?

Proper hydration is of the utmost importance when it comes to overall health. Every cell in the body needs water to complete its job properly. When it comes to specific functions that benefit from hydration, the list is vast.

Keeping your body hydrated helps to:

  • Regulate temperature
  • Lubricate joints
  • Deliver nutrients to cells throughout the body
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Keep the organs running the way they should
  • Prevent infection
  • Keep the circulatory system running properly
  • Allow muscles to repair
  • Flush out bacteria and other harmful substances
  • Ensure proper digestion

The aforementioned bodily functions wouldn’t occur without proper hydration. A dehydrated body can lead to illnesses and side effects such as:

  • Kidney failure
  • Kidney stones
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Cognitive decline (memory, mood, focus, motor skills)
  • Blood pressure issues
  • Heat stress caused by deregulation of temperature
  • Fainting
  • Low blood volume shock
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Muscle damage
  • Gastric upset

 

Make Well - drinking water
Image by Studio-Fritz on Pixabay: There are many reasons why water quality matters.

Does water quality matter?

Quality of water has been a hot topic for decades. However, many people live in areas where the quality of the tap water is high enough to drink, so they don’t get a good glimpse of what it’s like to live in areas where drinking water is unavailable, scarce, or full of diseases.

Flint, Michigan is just one of the many places experiencing an ongoing water crisis. The water in Flint was found to contain high levels of lead, which can lead to the build-up of toxins in the body. When this happens, illnesses can occur, such as:

  • Anaemia
  • Brain damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Death

Although it’s rare, further contamination of a public water source can occur. According to the CDC, the illnesses that are most commonly found during a contaminated water outbreak include:

  • Norovirus
  • Shigella
  • Copper poisoning
  • Salmonella
  • Hepatitis A
  • coli
  • Excess fluoride
  • Giardia
  • Legionella

 

Mineral water

One of the most revered types of water is mineral water. Mineral water comes from mineral springs and contains essential minerals that the body needs. Recent research has noted that drinking mineral water can help to maintain healthy mineral levels. A good mineral water should contain approximately 200 mg calcium, 100 mg magnesium and 1000 mg hydrogen carbonate per litre. Additionally, some mineral waters are high in sulphur (<200 mg/L).

Calcium

Due to the levels of calcium, drinking mineral water can assist in the healthy development and maintenance of bones. One study even showed that calcium in mineral water is more easily absorbed by the body than the calcium from dairy products, as it is already available as an ion.

Magnesium

The levels of magnesium in mineral water will vary depending on the type, but it has been found that with so many people deficient in the mineral, drinking water with any level of magnesium can help. Magnesium is an essential mineral that can assist the body in variety of functions, including:

  • The regulation of nerve and muscle function
  • Managing blood sugar levels
  • Assisting in the production of proteins
  • Maintaining healthy brain function
  • Regulating heartbeat

 

Zinc and sodium

Zinc leads to improved immune function by assisting cells in the battle against infection, and sodium is in charge of keeping enough water in and around your cells.

The catch, though, is that many other types of bottled and tap water may also contain levels of the minerals in mineral water.

Tap water

Many people disregard tap water, because advertising has gone a long way to make people think that they need bottled water to ensure they’re getting the highest quality. Due to many places having to filter their water, though, tap water can be just as healthy as mineral or bottled water.

Tap water in most places is filtered to the point where it’s unlikely that disease will linger unless an outbreak occurs, making it just as safe as bottled or mineral water. One study also showed that tap water contains levels of the aforementioned nutrients, just in lower amounts due to the filtration system in place to remove toxins. This means that although tap water isn’t unsafe to drink, if you’re using tap water as a place to get your calcium and magnesium, you may need to drink a lot more of it. Additionally, it is important to know what kind of pipes are used in the place you live. Many buildings, especially old houses, might have old metal pipes that can contaminate the water in rare cases.

 

Make Well - charcoal water
Image by Callum Shaw on Unsplash: Charcoal water has been hailed for its health benefits, but is there any truth to the hype?

Healing water/charcoal water

Activated charcoal has long been used by doctors to assist in the recovery of overdosing patients. It has the ability to pull toxins from the body, removing them from the system in a rapid manner. The prevalence of charcoal as a health tool in other situations is widely speculated, though.

Charcoal water has been used for a variety of different purposes, some health-based, others cosmetic. It’s even used in some water filtration systems. The ‘healing’ properties of charcoal water are said to aid in the detoxification of harmful radicals in the body, and it has been purported to:

  • Treat gastrointestinal issues
  • Improve kidney health
  • Whiten teeth and improve oral health
  • Improve overall skin health
  • Treat skin infections

The research on the above conditions is scarce, so using charcoal water as a cure-all is not in your best interest. Many nutritionists do believe in its detox abilities, but also know that there is no research to confirm just how often it can be used, or the validity that it can be a long-term solution to health issues.

The bottom line

Drinking water goes hand in hand with a balanced diet and lifestyle for optimal health. Without enough water, the body can experience a variety of different symptoms and illnesses. There are a few differences between the various types of water on offer, but one thing remains the same: hydration influences health more than people may know.

Image by Congerdesign on Pixabay