Health experts are always talking about drinking plenty of water. We know it’s good for us. There are apps to remind us. Cute water bottles can help us keep track. But how many of us can say we know WHY drinking water is so important for our health.
Let’s take a look at 10 surprising benefits of drinking water:
- Water helps improve circulation. When we are well hydrated, it is easier for our heart to pump blood throughout our bodies.
Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.
- It helps stave off headaches. For some people, even mild dehydration can trigger headaches and migraines.
In a study in young women, researchers found that fluid loss of 1.4% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration. It also increased the frequency of headaches.
A fluid loss of 1.6% was detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue.
- Water helps detoxify the liver and kidneys. Staying hydrated supports our body’s natural detoxification processes helping us to remove harmful chemicals from circulation.
- Staying hydrated helps ensure healthy bowel movements. We need the right combination of water and fiber to keep that digestive tract moving smoothly.
Constipation is a common problem that’s characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stool. Increasing fluid intake is often recommended as a part of the treatment protocol, and there’s some evidence to back this up. Low water consumption appears to be a risk factor for constipation in both younger and older individuals.
Mineral water may be a particularly beneficial beverage for those with constipation. Studies have shown that mineral water that’s rich in magnesium and sodium improves bowel movement frequency and consistency in people with constipation
- Water helps us lose weight. Drinking more water has been shown to help boost the metabolism, curb appetite and help reduce body weight.
This is because water can increase satiety and boost your metabolic rate.
Some evidence suggests that increasing water intake can promote weight loss by slightly increasing your metabolism, which can increase the number of calories you burn on a daily basis.
A 2013 study in 50 young women with overweight demonstrated that drinking an additional 16.9 ounces (500 mL) of water 3 times per day before meals for 8 weeks led to significant reductions in body weight and body fat compared with their pre-study measurements. The timing is important too. Drinking water half an hour before meals is the most effective. It can make you feel more full so that you eat fewer calories.
In one study, dieters who drank 16.9 ounces (0.5 liters) of water before meals lost 44% more weight over a period of 12 weeks than dieters who didn’t drink water before meals.
- Fatigue sets in when we are even slightly dehydrated. The next time you need energy, try grabbing a glass of water before you reach for a snack.
Water helps to relieve fatigue by flushing out toxins and preventing the rest of your organs from overworking themselves.
Dehydration makes you tired and can even make you nauseous. (Ever wake up in the morning not feeling so great? It’s likely because of the lack of water overnight.) Water helps blood and oxygen flow more freely to your organs, making you feel more alert and energized. Try drinking a big glass of water first thing after you wake up.
- Our joints are more lubricated and less painful when we are adequately hydrated. Our cartilage is primarily water so dehydration can create joint pain and inflammation.
No more aches. Hydration helps with pains like cramping and arthritis. It lubricates joints and can even prevent muscle sprains.
- We are more mentally sharp when our body and our brains are hydrated. Even a 2% drop in hydration can negatively affect our memory and concentration.
This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, and increased fatigue. It can also make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally.
Optimal hydration has been shown to prevent this from happening, and it may even reduce the oxidative stress that occurs during high-intensity exercise. This isn’t surprising when you consider that muscle is about 80% water.
If you exercise intensely and tend to sweat, staying hydrated can help you perform at your absolute best.
- A hydrated body leads to glowing skin. In addition to using quality topical products drinking plenty of water is an easy way to enjoy a radiant complexion.
Water is known to cure dry, itchy skin as well as increase the skin’s overall elasticity, leaving you looking fresher and younger. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and is constantly exposed to toxins. Water helps flush these toxins out of your system. If you don’t drink enough water, your skin can overcompensate and turn oily to try to flush out the contaminants on its own.
- A hydrated body is a happier mind! Not being adequately hydrated can lead to a low mood.
Being dehydrated throws off the delicate dopamine and serotonin balances in the brain, natural chemicals that can increase/affect depression and anxiety. One of the fastest and easiest ways to improve your mood is by drinking a glass (or two!) of water. Getting hydrated can quite literally calm your nerves.
Drinking water is a vital aspect of staying mentally healthy and reaching our health-related goals. I (and nutrition experts) recommend drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, a 150 lb. person should strive to drink 75 oz. of pure water every day. It’s never too late to get started drinking water!