Many of us drink water because we know we should, few people actually understand the benefits of drinking water. From keeping us awake to making sure our muscles work properly, there are tons of unexpected benefits. Here are the most surprising reasons you should be drinking more water every day.
1. Water is Muscle Fuel
When you exercise or are in warm weather, you sweat in order to help your body regulate its temperature. Some of this water comes directly from your muscles, and as your muscles dehydrate, they also get tired much quicker. If you aren’t constantly replenishing your muscles with fluids, not only will your routine get cut short, but you will also feel pretty bad. Sport drinks, which do a great job of making you think it is what your body is craving for when you exercise, aren’t necessarily the best thing to be drinking as a regular hydration regimen because of the large amounts of sugar they contain. However, if you are already very dehydrated or low on energy, studies show these drinks can be effective with regards to glucose (energy) absorption. Before reaching for the fruity, sugary drinks, try downing a bottle of water and your muscles should pick up in no time.
2. Water Can Help Fight Acne
Toxins and bacteria that circulate the body and deposit in the skin can clog your pores, and can cause inflammation and acne. One of waters functions is to flush out toxins from your body, which can reduce the amount of bacterial toxins that cause reactions in your skin. When you are dehydrated, toxins and bacteria stay in the skin causing your skin to react by inflaming around the infection. However, if you drink lots of water and eat healthy, your skin has an easier time maintaining a hydration balance and your body can more easily flush out harmful acne-causing toxins.
3. Water Optimizes Kidney Function
Your kidneys are the organs responsible for regulating the level of electrolytes in your body, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, and serve as a filter for the blood, eliminating any and all unwanted materials and reabsorbing those that are useful for the body. All of this depends on the level of water homeostasis, or fluid intake and water balance in the body. Not drinking enough water can result in urinary tract infections and renal stones, two very painful illnesses, your better off avoiding. You can help to avoid renal failure, and help the body to filter toxins simply by drinking enough water a day!
4. Water Can Replace Your Coffee
One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is tiredness and fatigue, which in many settings can lead us to reach for the coffee pot. Unfortunately, coffee is a diuretic, meaning it will actually lead to increased fluid loss. Drinking lots of water will help ease the tiredness caused by dehydration, not to mention, getting up more often to go to the bathroom will keep you on your toes.
5. Water Can Keep You “Regular”
Constipation can be caused by a range of factors, including lack of exercise and low fiber and fluid intake. Before hitting the drug store to see what drugs can help the “flow”, you might want to try hydrating first. Fluid intake helps to ease the passage of stool through the colon, making you feel better and keeping your intestines healthy. Studies show that even when laxatives are taken to ease constipation, there is a reduction in efficacy if the patient is not well hydrated.
6. Water Can Boost Brain Function
While short-term changes in cognitive function are often attributed to nutrition, we shouldn’t overlook the importance of water intake with regards to a healthy brain function. A study carried out with children showed that even a 1-2% reduction in body weight loss due to fluid loss can significantly impair cognitive function. Drinking enough water can help keep you more alert, and even improve your mood, keeping your brain happy and functioning well.
Bonus: Exactly How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?
While the 8-8oz glasses a day is used as a benchmark, the amount of water you actually need depends on your weight, level of exercise, and the amount of alcoholic and caffeinated drinks you consume a day. Here is how you can calculate how much water you should be drinking a day:
- Divide your weight in two. This tells you how many ounces of water you should be drinking a day, assuming you lead a sedentary lifestyle and do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages
- Add 8oz to that base amount for every 15 minutes of exercise you do a day
- Add 8oz for every cup you drink of an alcoholic or caffeinated beverage
For example, if I weigh 150 lbs, I exercise 1 hour a day, and I drink 1 cola a day, I should be drinking:
(150/2) + 8 + 16 = 99oz or 12 glasses of water a day.
Remember that we can only survive a few days without water, which highlights the importance of fluid intake every day. Remember that fruits and vegetables also contain a high water content, so it is a great alternative if you aren’t a fan of good ol’ H2O.
How Much Water Is Too Much Water?
Technically, yes, you can drink too much water, but it is very rare. If you are a generally healthy person, it is very difficult to overhydrate. People with chronic health diseases like renal failure or heart disease, sometimes have a harder time processing foods and liquids in general, so the extra stress on the body of having to process excess amounts of water in order to keep the mineral balance of the blood can be too much for your body. However, unless your doctor indicates that you have to watch your water intake, which is very unusual. In fact, the large majority of people have the opposite problem: one report claims that 75% of people in the US are chronically dehydrated! Keep drinking those healthy liquids!
How to Remind Yourself to Drink Water
There is a great trick you can use to remind yourself to drink enough water. After you figure out how much you should be drinking using the formula above, get a large water bottle or use two normal-sized ones. Take a permanent water and mark your goal to drink an inch and a half every hour or so, until your quota of water is done and the day is over. If you get used to drinking small amounts throughout the day, rather than lots of water all at once, you’re bound to drink more and stay hydrated more consistently. Soon, you’ll find that your body is still craving water even after meeting your goal
10 Tips to Drink More Water
Some people refrain from drinking as much water as they should simply because they don’t like the taste of it, or it’s simply too boring to be drinking so much all day. There are some simple tips you can follow to keep your water drinking interesting and even give it some extra nutrients.
1. Add a Lemon or Lime Slice
Adding little bit of citrus can make all of the difference when your tastes buds need some stimulation in what you drink. You can add half a lemon cut in slices in your water pitcher or water bottle overnight and drink first think in the morning or throughout your day to stimulate your immune system.
2. Infuse With Fruit
Add some of your favorite berries to your water and lightly mash with a fork to squeeze out the flavor. It also gives the water a great color, which can stimulate your appetite.
3. Pick Your Favorite Fruit and Add a Bit of Stevia
Using some of the tips above may not be enough, especially if your taste buds are used to drinking sweet juices or sodas. Stevia is a great alternative to cane sugar, since it is actually sweeter but it has no calories, and best of all, it is derived from a plant. It comes in powder or liquid form, and both taste equally yummy.
4. Add Low-calorie Flavor Powder Packs
There are tons of flavor and brand alternatives out there these days, and many of them come in handy one-serving packets that you can pour in your water bottle and shake.
5. Use a Straw
It may seem like such a silly tip, but you will be surprised at how much more water your drink! It makes it easier for you to take smaller sips at smaller intervals, and it also helps keep you from swallowing air, as can happen when taking big gulps.
6. Find Out How You Like Your Water
You might be thinking, “wait, water is not coffee!” However, each person, depending on their mood and time of day, prefer drinking their water ice cold, cool, or room temperature. If you are a person who is more sensitive to cold, it may even be painful for you to drink very cold water. For others, drinking water at room temperature can make them feel sick. So, try different alternatives, and see which one is most pleasant to you.
7. Eat More Fruits And Vegetables
Most fruits and vegetables have a very high water content. Celery, for example is 95% water, and apples are 84% water. Not only do fruits and veggies give your body tons of the vitamins, nutrients, and fiber you need, they also help to keep you hydrated.
8. Try Sparkling Water
Sparkling water has no calories, sugar or artificial flavoring, but it gives you the same sensation in your mouth as if you were drinking soda. You can mash up some berries at the bottom of you glass and add sparking water to spruce it up a bit.
9. Add a Splash of Juice or Fruit Syrup
Even better if the juice is unsweetened, adding very little juice can give your water the flavor you need to gulp it down and hydrate.
10. Add Mint Leaves
If you let the mint soak enough, it infuses the water with the taste of iced mint tea. You can squeeze lemon juice right in if you feel it needs more of a kick.