Water you going to drink?: The real benefits of H2O


(Los Angeles Times/MCT 2012)

(Los Angeles Times/MCT 2012)
(Los Angeles Times/MCT 2012)

Water is healthy and cleansing, but what does it actually do for the body? The average high school student knows surprisingly little about this essential fluid. Alyssa Rudin (So.) said, “Beyond the basics, I don’t really know that much about the positive benefits of water. I wasn’t aware that there was so much to know about it.”Drinking water has a gradual but significant effect on skin health. It is a great way to keep your skin young and smooth. Excessive hydration will not instantly produce results but over time, those who drink a lot of water will notice their skin aging less rapidly than those who do not. An insufficient supply of water causes toxins that are not drained from the body to exit through the pores. This dirties the skin and damages skin cells, causing the skin to age quicker.
Water can benefit hair in a similar manner–keeping the strands glossier and smoother over time. In the body, high levels of water can speed up blood flow, allowing important nutrients to travel to the hair and skin more quickly. Drinking water is a great way to preserve hair and skin and keep them from aging.
Water is an essential component of a fully functioning respiratory system. The lungs require sufficient levels of hydration so that they can function properly and effectively. They must be moist in order to receive oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Failure to drink enough water will dry the lungs, and phlegm will build up inside.  The dry phlegm begins to block sections of the bronchial tubes (the tubes that connect the windpipe with the lungs), causing them to get inflamed. Guido R. Zanni, a writer for us.news.com, said, “Lots of water helps keep the windpipe and bronchial tubes clear, preventing bronchitis and other repertory-related diseases.”
While it is common knowledge that drinking water improves performance in sports, how exactly does water facilitate that change? Generally speaking, water equates to energy. Lack of water can lead to poor focus and alertness because of slower blood circulation and hinder performance in daily activities as well as sports. Michael Gleeson, writer for the website Humankinetics.com, said, “Fatigue toward the end of a prolonged sporting event may result as much from dehydration as from fuel substrate depletion. Exercise performance is impaired when an individual is dehydrated by as little as 2% of body weight.” Muscle cells shrivel when dehydrated, which decreases their overall potency and reduces oxygen circulation to the muscles.
Water also has a profound effect on one’s joints. Water is stored in cartilage tissue, which makes the joint flexible. Without a sufficient storage of water, joints become more susceptible to damage.  Valerie Webber, writer for Livestrong.com, said, “Water helps you maintain an adequate blood volume so that nutrients can move through your blood and into your joints. If you think of your joints like a sponge, imagine how much more easily two wet sponges can move against one another than two dry, hard sponges.”
The final, and probably more important, benefit of water is that, in tandem with oxygen, it keeps you alive. There is no true replacement for it; beverages often contain harmful ingredients that detract from water’s clear advantages. Caffeinated drinks like coffee and green tea stimulate adrenaline glands which rob the body of water, and carbonated beverages contain phosphorous, a damaging element that can lead to a depletion of bone calcium.
Ultimately, water is one of the most important and useful substances you can put into your body, and a lack of it can be detrimental to emotional, physical and mental health.
Staff Writer