Water is often overlooked in discussions about health and wellness, yet it is one of the most vital components of life. Our bodies comprise approximately 60% water, highlighting its critical role in maintaining various bodily functions. In this article, we’ll delve into the importance of hydration and explore how staying hydrated contributes to overall well-being.

How much water do you need to drink?

There is no strict amount you should drink, as your needs will depend on several factors, such as age, what you eat, temperature, medical conditions, metabolism, and physical activity.

We get about one-fifth of the water we need from food, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables; the rest comes from liquids that we drink. While you can get water from any fluid, including tea and coffee, fruit juice, milk, soup, and soft drinks, the best way to ensure hydration is to drink clean, still (uncarbonated) water.

Generally, adults should aim to drink 8-10 cups of water a day, children around 4-5 cups, and teens around 6-8 cups. [5]

How do you know if you’re not drinking enough water?

You will likely experience specific symptoms if you are not adequately hydrated – your body will let you know. Common symptoms include:

– Headaches
– Fatigue
– Dry mouth and bad breath
– Colour and frequency of your pee
– Digestion issues
– Muscle cramps and pain

Urine Colour Test

Hydration and Body Functions

Water is essential for the proper functioning of nearly every system in the body. It aids in digestion, nutrient absorption, and waste elimination. Additionally, water helps regulate body temperature, lubricates joints, and cushions organs, contributing to overall physical comfort and functionality.

The Importance of Electrolytes

Electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, are crucial in maintaining fluid balance within cells and regulating nerve and muscle function. Proper hydration ensures that electrolyte levels remain stable, preventing issues like muscle cramps, fatigue, and impaired cognitive function.

Physical Performance and Hydration

Staying hydrated is even more critical for athletes and active individuals. Dehydration can lead to decreased endurance, impaired strength, and reduced coordination. Studies [8] have shown that even mild dehydration can significantly impact physical performance, emphasising the importance of adequate fluid intake during exercise.

Cognitive Function and Hydration

The brain is highly sensitive to changes in hydration status. Dehydration has been linked to cognitive deficits, including impaired concentration, memory, and mood disturbances. [4,6] By staying hydrated, individuals can support optimal brain function, improving cognitive performance and overall mental well-being.

Hydration and Disease Prevention

Proper hydration is associated with a lower risk of various health conditions. Adequate water intake can help prevent kidney stones, constipation, and urinary tract infections. Furthermore, staying hydrated supports cardiovascular health by maintaining blood volume and circulation.

Hydrogen-Rich Water

Hydrogen-rich water boasts several potential benefits, such as its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic effects. It can help reduce oxidative stress; some studies indicate it may enhance physical endurance, cognitive function, and overall well-being. Hydrogen-rich water is generally considered safe with minimal to no side effects. Interest in its benefits is increasing, and it may have promising applications in medical therapies [7 ].

Tips for Staying Hydrated

– Drink water regularly throughout the day, aiming for at least 8-10 cups for adults.
– Monitor urine colour; pale yellow indicates adequate hydration, while darker urine may signal dehydration.
– Include hydrating foods such as fruits, vegetables, and soups.
– Limit consumption of sugary beverages and alcohol, as they can contribute to dehydration.
– Increase fluid intake during exercise or hot weather to compensate for fluid loss through sweat.


Hydration is not just about quenching thirst; it is essential for sustaining life and promoting optimal health. Individuals can enhance their physical performance, cognitive function, and overall well-being by understanding the importance of staying hydrated and adopting healthy hydration habits. Prioritising hydration is a simple yet powerful way to support a healthy and active lifestyle.


1. Popkin, B. M., et al. (2010). Water, Hydration, and Health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), 439–458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
2. Institute of Medicine. (2004). Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/10925
3. Armstrong, L. E. (2012). Challenges of Linking Chronic Dehydration and Fluid Consumption to Health Outcomes. Nutrition Reviews, 70(S2), S121-S127. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00523.x
4. Benton, D., & Young, H. A. (2015). Do Small Differences in Hydration Status Affect Mood and Mental Performance? Nutrition Reviews, 73(S2), 83-96. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuv038
6. Pross N. Effects of Dehydration on Brain Functioning: A Life-Span Perspective. Ann Nutr Metab. 2017;70 Suppl 1:30-36. doi: 10.1159/000463060. Epub 2017 Jun 15. PMID: 28614811.
7. Dhillon G, Buddhavarapu V, Grewal H, Sharma P, Verma RK, Munjal R, Devadoss R, Kashyap R. Hydrogen Water: Extra Healthy or a Hoax?-A Systematic Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Jan 12;25(2):973. doi: 10.3390/ijms25020973. PMID: 38256045; PMCID: PMC10816294.
8. Ayotte, D., Corcoran, M.P. Individualized hydration plans improve performance outcomes for collegiate athletes engaging in in-season training. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 15, 27 (2018).