Water. The average adult body is nearly 65% water. The earth’s surface is nearly 71% water. We drink it, we bathe in it and we swim in it. Still, many of us are not getting enough water on a daily basis to sustain optimal health.
The critical importance of water to the human body was recently made very clear to me when my oldest son had to receive IV fluids due to a severe case of dehydration brought on by a bad case of the stomach flu. It was incredible to me to see just how quickly the body of a healthy and strong nineteen year old began to shut down as a result of not having enough water in his system. Fortunately, quick action on the part of medical professionals kept my son from needing to be hospitalized, but the experience was enough to get me to take a closer look at the crucial role that water plays in our overall health.
Just as plants wilt without adequate water–so do humans. As the principal chemical component of our bodies, water flushes toxins out of our vital organs and carries nutrients to our cells. Adequate water intake also cuts our risk of heart disease by nearly 50% and helps to prevent dangerous blood clots and painful kidney stones.
As if these important health benefits weren’t enough reason to increase your water intake, there are numerous other important benefits to be gained by drinking more water..
Five Lesser Known Benefits of Drinking More Water
1.) It Boosts Your Mood: The next time you feel your mood taking a nosedive for no good reason, drink a glass of water–even if you don’t feel thirsty. According to the Journal of Nutrition, mild dehydration (so mild that you don’t even notice it) can usher in fatigue, mental fogginess and a blue mood. Consider these symptoms your body’s way of alerting you that it is getting low on fluids. If you prefer something with a little more flavor, you can try downing some Gatorade. Drinks (like Gatorade) that have a little bit of sodium can make you feel better more quickly. The sodium will trigger pleasurable sensations in a slightly dehydrated brain.
2.) It Boosts Your Energy: Not only does staying well hydrated boost your mood, it will boost your energy level as well. In fact, fatigue is often the first tell-tale sign of dehydration. Not to worry though; drinking an ice-cold glass of water should do the trick to re-hydrate you. According to the Journal of Physiology, the cold temperature makes liquid pass through the stomach to the intestines faster for speedier absorption.
3.) It Prevents Wrinkles: Ladies–can I get an “Amen” on this one? Something as simple as drinking more water can help to prevent wrinkles. Skin contains hyaluronic acid which stores water and gives skin a healthy, plump appearance. Even one day of dehydration can sap that plumpness and make it easy for skin to crease and wrinkle while we sleep.
4.) It Can Help to Whittle Your Middle: A three month study on this subject found that study participants who drank two 8 oz. glasses of water before meals consumed fewer calories than those who did not drink prior to eating. In fact, those who drank the extra water lost nearly five pounds more than those who didn’t pre-drink. According to Registered Dietitian, Amy Jamieson-Petonic, “having water before a meal reduces unintentional overeating because your body can easily mistake thirst for hunger.”
5.) It Improves Brain Function: A recent British study confirmed that sipping water before a challenging task (giving a speech, taking a quiz, etc.) helped to improve performance. Additionally, Army research has shown that well-hydrated women are able to concentrate better during boring tasks. Scientists say that even mild dehydration can cause your brain to operate less efficiently.
With so many tangible benefits like these, it is easy to see that adequate water intake is a vital part of maintaining optimal physical health. The question still remains though, how much water is really enough? According to the Institute of Medicine, adequate water intake for men is roughly thirteen cups a day while women need approximately nine cups. There are, however; other variables that may skew those totals a bit. Follow these guidelines from the Mayo Clinic to ensure that you are getting enough water on a daily basis…
Mayo Clinic Guidelines for Water Consumption
-If you exercise or engage in activities that make you sweat, add an extra cup and a half to two cups of water to your fluid intake.
-Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need additional fluids. The institute of Medicine recommends ten cups a day during pregnancy and thirteen cups a day while breastfeeding.
-Hot, dry or humid weather can cause perspiration which will require additional fluid intake.
-Vomiting and diarrhea cause the body to quickly lose additional fluids (as was the case with my son) so it is especially important to stay well hydrated during illnesses such as the flu.
While chugging some crystal clear water is the easiest, most effective way to naturally re-hydrate your system, it’s not the only way. Some other ways to up your fluid intake include…
-Turning Up the Heat with Spicy Food. Eating hot, spicy food will have you reaching for your water glass more often thus increasing your water consumption.
-Swap out Your Soda for Fruity, Sparkling Water. Yes, believe it or not, soda does contribute to your overall fluid intake but not nearly as much as water–plus, soda has a plethora of extra calories and negative effects on health. By swapping out your sugar laden soda for some fruity, sparkling water, you will still get a shot of fizz and flavor without all of the bad-for-you elements of soda.
-Savoring Another Cup of Coffee or Tea. Contrary to popular belief and according to British Sports Medicine researchers, these drinks are hydrating and can offer a bit of flavorful variety when it comes to proper fluid intake.
When an action as simple as drinking more water can have such a positive impact on one’s overall physical health, there is no reason not to incorporate it into your daily routine and make it a habit. Start off with adding one more glass of water to your day and build from there. It’s a simple habit but it can make a FabYOUlous difference.