Find out how water impacts your health and your body.

Rachael Moeller Gorman
Updated October 22, 2020
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Credit: getty images / Jose A. Bernat Bacete

Water accounts for 60 percent of our body-or about 11 gallons or 92 pounds inside a 155-pound person-and is essential to every cell. We use water to cool our body with sweat, to circulate oxygen and fuel to our organs and take away waste products via blood. But how does it impact your breath, muscles, skin and brain function? Read on to find out what water does for the body.

7 Health Benefits of Water

Water Keeps Your Brain Healthy

Staying hydrated keeps your memory sharp, your mood stable and your motivation intact. When you're well-hydrated, you can also think through a problem more easily. Researchers hypothesize that not having enough water could reduce oxygen flow to the brain or temporarily shrink neurons-or being thirsty could simply distract you.

Water Can Prevent Bad Breath

Water keeps your throat and lips moist and prevents your mouth from feeling dry. Dry mouth can cause bad breath and/or an unpleasant taste-and can even promote cavities.

Water Helps Your Heart Function Properly

Dehydration lowers your blood volume, so your heart must work harder to pump the reduced amount of blood and get enough oxygen to your cells, which makes everyday activities like walking up stairs-as well as exercise-more difficult.

Water Keeps You Cool When You Exercise

Your body releases heat by expanding blood vessels close to the skin's surface (this is why your face gets red during exercise), resulting in more blood flow and more heat dissipated into the air. When you're dehydrated, however, it takes a higher environmental temperature to trigger blood vessels to widen, so you stay hotter.

Water Lubricates Your Joints

When you're well hydrated, the water inside and outside the cells of contracting muscles provides adequate nutrients and removes waste efficiently so you perform better. Water is also important for lubricating joints. Contrary to popular belief, muscle cramps do not appear to be related to dehydration, but, instead, to muscle fatigue, according to Sam Cheuvront, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist for the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

Water Improves Skin Elasticity

When a person is severely dehydrated, skin is less elastic. This is different than dry skin, which is usually the result of soap, hot water and exposure to dry air. And, no, unfortunately, drinking lots of water won't prevent wrinkles.

Water Helps Flush Out Toxins

Your kidneys need water to filter waste from the blood and excrete it in urine. Keeping hydrated may also help prevent urinary tract infections and kidney stones. If you are severely dehydrated, your kidneys may stop working, causing toxins to build up in your body.

July/August 2011