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 trusty water bottle sitting at my desk. Halfway through the day, 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 we explore 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.
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.