Proper hydration is important for overall health. Without proper hydration, you become dehydrated, which means your body does not have enough water to function normally. You lose water every day when you breathe, sweat and go to the bathroom.

Most people don’t realize how important it is to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated not only keeps the body functioning better, it helps the body with a number of things.

Athletic Performance

Hydration is essential to peak athletic performance. When you do not consume enough liquid or fresh fruits and vegetables to stay properly hydrated, you end up thirsty and light headed. Insufficient hydration fatigues your muscles, reduces your coordination and causes muscle cramps. While working out or playing sports, dehydration compromises the body’s ability to cool itself through sweating. This leads to heat exhaustion and in extreme cases a potentially life threatening condition called heat stroke.

Weight Loss

Consume part of the water required for proper daily hydration before your meals to control your appetite according to a study by researchers from Virginia Tech and reported at the 2010 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. Drinking 16 oz. of water before meals three times a day over a 12-week period increased average weight loss by about 5 lbs., compared with those who did not increase water intake. Researchers could not definitively say what caused the additional weight loss but speculate it fills up the stomach making you feel fuller.

Pregnant Women and New Mothers

Sufficient hydration is important to a health pregnancy. Staying properly hydrated assists with the liver and kidney function for the mother and the fetus. During her pregnancy it helps the mother combat constipation and increases her blood volume as her body expands and the fetus grows. A new mother needs proper hydration to produce a sufficient amount of breast milk for her baby. Dehydration can cause preterm labor and miscarriage.

Are you staying hydrated?

Note: The amount of water you should be drinking a day is half of your body weight in ounces.