Anyone who’s attempted to improve their health has heard the golden rule: drink more water.
That sounds easy, right?
Even right now, I’ve got my water bottle sitting at my desk. Halfway through the workday, and I’ve already refilled it three times to stay properly hydrated, because apparently, this is key to my health. But why?
After digging through some research, I can tell you exactly why keeping your H2O levels in check is so important for your health.
Now grab a fresh glass of water and drink it down as I’ll reveal how you’re helping your body in more ways than you thought.
Water makes up about 60 percent of your total body weight, meaning your body really depends on the stuff. Actually, pretty much every system in your body relies on water to keep things running smoothly.
These functions include regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, protecting and moistening body organs and tissues, regulating digestion, carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, and dissolving nutrients and minerals to make them accessible to the body.
Maybe the most important function of water is helping out your kidneys. Body fluids transport waste in and out of cells, and the main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that is able to pass through the kidneys to be excreted in your urine.
So drinking water regularly helps to flush out these toxins and lighten the workload for your kidneys. Without sufficient water intake, you’re not doing your kidneys any favors and actually putting yourself at a higher risk for kidney stones as a result of extended dehydration.
Speaking of dehydration, it’s something you really want to avoid. Obviously, it will diminish the processes mentioned above, but it can also throw off your electrolyte levels. This may cause muscle weakness or heart rhythm disturbances due to overly low or high levels of important chemicals like potassium and sodium.
If you want more radiant, glowing, perfect skin, guess what? Drink water. If you are well hydrated it will show in your skin. It isn’t that the water plumps up your skin cells, but adequate water intake will help flush toxins out of your body through you kidneys, that means fewer toxins that wander around your body. Also, though not immediate, every cell in your body grows its healthiest with plentiful water, so your young skin cells which are just growing now, if they are as healthy as they can be, it will show when they make their way to the surface of your skin in 28-45 days. Just like watering your lawn. You won’t see it in an hour, or a day, but wait a week.
How Much is Enough?
OK, you get it: water is super important. Now let’s talk about how much is enough.
You’ve probably heard the commonly used recommendation of eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. It’s not the worst guideline to stick with, but it might not be the best, either. Things like height, weight, food consumption, outside temperature, and physical activity all play into how much water an individual should consume.
The best way to determine your hydration level is to pay attention to your body. First of all, if you feel thirsty, that’s your body telling you it needs water, and you shouldn’t ignore it. Be mindful that if you’re always waiting until you feel thirsty, your body might already be partly dehydrated, so always try to address your thirst before you feel it.
Next, take a look at your urine. I know, it sounds a little gross, but it’s a really great indicator to tell if you’re sufficiently hydrated. When you’re getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color, and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions.
Ways to Drink More
Many of you might already know most of this information, but you still aren’t drinking enough water. Maybe you think the taste is boring or you’re forgetful. Heck, you might just be a little lazy.
When it comes down to it, these are all just excuses. Drinking water is vital to your health, and it’s an easy, inexpensive habit to adapt.
Take a look at some of these helpful tips to incorporate more water into your diet.
- Before your morning coffee or tea, drink a glass of water right when you wake up to help replace fluids lost during your sleep.
- Keep a water bottle with you throughout your day so that you have something tangible in front of you to remind you to keep sipping on water.
- Add some natural flavor to your water with a slice of lime, lemon, or whatever your favorite fruit is.
- Try to drink a glass of water before each meal to help keep you from overeating and help with the digestion of your food.
- Most importantly, make a goal to replace soda, juice, and coffee with water whenever possible. Many times, these drinks are loaded with calories and sugar and can often dehydrate you. If you simply can’t go without, try to limit yourself to one non-water beverage each day.
There are a few cautions though.
- If you buy the disposable water bottles, don’t let them sit in your car and get hot. The heat will release chemicals from the plastic into the water.
- Tap water is great for watering the lawn and showering, but not that great for dining in most US cities. Besides heavy metals which come from pipes and wells many cities add fluoride to the water. This is a powerful nuero-toxin. To filter out all of the toxins, invest in a reverse-osmosis water filter. It will cost a couple hundred dollars and take an hour or two to install, but you’ll get the purest water available. If you look a the cost of bottled water you’ll save the cost of the RO filter many times over, plus you’ll keep all those plastic bottles out of the landfill.
- If you have a good reverse osmosis water filter, then get a nice BPA free water bottle that you can refill throughout the day.
- You can drink too much water, but it takes gallons. This can upset the electrolytes in your body. So don’t go excessively overboard.
- Finally, what goes in must come out, so taper off the water as you approach bedtime so you don’t wake up several times during the night to go to the bathroom.
Finally, water is great for your diet! Often when you feel hungry you’re actually thirsty. So when you feel like going for the Snickers bar, drink a glass of water, wait 10 minutes, and the urge to snack will probably be gone.