Our bodies are made up of about 60% water. It makes sense, then, that water is essential to our health and wellbeing. We are constantly losing fluids – through our skin, through our urine, and even through our breath – and if we don’t replenish our fluid levels then we run the risk of becoming dehydrated. As this article will explain, even very mild levels of dehydration have significant impact on our everyday capacity to perform well.
We all know that water is good for us, but most of us just don’t drink enough of it, reaching instead for a juice, a soda, or a coffee when we’re thirsty. I could tell you all the reasons those are bad for you (you’ll never drink diet soda again after reading this article), but instead I’ll explain why water is so essential for your health. Keep reading for 10 reasons why there is just no substitute for plain old H2O:
1) Water helps our brainpower
Authority Nutrition cites a study which showed that even very mild dehydration can impair aspects of our brain function. Another study showed that fluid loss of just over 1% in young men was detrimental to their working memories, and it led to higher rates of anxiety and low moods.
2) Your tummy will be healthier
According to Body and Soul, your stomach needs three key things for good digestion: fibre, exercise and water. It keeps waste moving along your digestive tract properly and help to prevent bloating.
3) It can lower your risk of cancer
Research has shown that being well hydrated can reduce your risk of colon cancer and bladder cancer by 45 – 50%, and it has been linked to a lowered risk of breast cancer too, according to Breaking Muscle.
4) Water contains no calories!
Just think of the savings when you reach for a glass of water instead of a soda or a natural juice, which both land at around 150 calories (sweetened juice has twice as much!) according to WebMD. The same goes for food – foods that are high in water content are bigger, healthier, and more filling because they are absorbed more slowly by the body. This includes foods like fruit and vegetables, oats, beans and broth-based soups.
5) Water relieves constipation
It may be embarrassing to talk about but constipation is a very common issue, and one of the key treatment protocols is to consume more water. According to Authority Nutrition, constipation is particularly high in those with low water intake, so drinking plenty of water will act as both a preventative measure and a treatment option.
6) Your kidneys need water to clean your body
Our kidneys are in charge of keeping our bodies free of toxins, and it is fluid that allows this process to happen. According to WebMD, the main toxin in our body is blood urea nitrogen and it is water-soluble, meaning that if we have enough fluids then our kidneys easily flush it out via urine. And on that note – urine is a good indicator of whether you are well hydrated. It should be light in colour with little odour. If you are dehydrated, urine tends to be darker with a stronger smell.
7) Water is essential for healthy skin
Our skin is our largest organ and it needs to be well hydrated. American Skin Association recommends drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day to keep your skin soft and clear. Water allows the skin to regenerate new cells more quickly, and to keep our pores clear and regulate our body temperature by sweating. Dehydration can cause dull, dry skin and premature wrinkling.
8) Water makes us stronger
As explained by WebMD, when our muscle cells don’t have enough fluid our electrolytes shrivel, making our muscles feel tired. This means your water intake is especially important when you are exercising, and drinking water a couple of hours before exercise will allow your muscles to be at their best. It ‘s important to drink small amounts regularly throughout exercise, too, to replace the amount you are sweating out.
9) It helps with joint pain
You may have heard of glucosamine, a common supplement which helps with joint pain. What you may not know is that glucosamine aids in the cartilages ability to absorb water, so once again, water is the key ingredient in keeping your cartilage soft and hydrated, say Breaking Muscle.
10) You’ll be less hungover
According to Authority Nutrition, alcohol is a diuretic and it therefore causes you to lose more water than you take in. It feels counterintuitive because you’re drinking so much liquid, but no one can argue with that awful, dry-mouthed thirst you wake up with. A good way of combatting the dehydration, and therefore lessening your hangover, is to drink one glass of water between each alcoholic drink you consume, and to ensure that you have a big drink of water before bed.
Not all of us love drinking water, but there are lots of ways to make it more interesting and appealing. Firstly, it’s a good habit to carry a water bottle with you so that you get into a routine of sipping water regularly. You can give it delicious flavor and extra nutrients by adding a slice of lemon or orange, berries, cucumber or fresh mint leaves. You can carbonate it, or you can even have it in the form of caffeine-free tea. There are lots of yummy, natural teas out there and you can enjoy them hot or cold. Try experimenting over the next week with different ways to increase your water intake. Find out what works for you, set goals, and get hydrated! You’ll feel the difference.