We all know that we should drink “enough water” — but what are the benefits of drinking water exactly?
Staying hydrated is important for electrolyte balance, supports digestion, allows our bodies to disperse nutrients, and helps maintain normal functioning of our cardiovascular and immune systems. In fact, just about every organ and system in our bodies depends upon water to do its job.
If you’re guilty of needing to up your water intake, rest assured that drinking water is pretty simple once you make a few changes.
How much water should you drink a day? Find out below, along with tips for squeezing more water into your diet and routine to take advantage of the benefits of drinking water.
What happens to your body when you drink a lot of water? The human body is made up of between 55 percent and 75 percent water, depending on one’s age. (In infants, water accounts for a higher percentage of body weight compared to in older adults.)
Water is needed for some of the following essential functions:
What are the benefits of drinking water? Here are some of the reasons it should be your main beverage of choice:
Drinking water is the No. 1 way to prevent and diminish dehydration symptoms — which can include poor concentration, fatigue, low energy during workouts, headaches, weakness, low blood pressure and dizziness (not to mention hangovers).
By consuming enough fluids, studies suggest you’ll help prevent mood swings, lack of focus and even problems memorizing new information. This has big payoffs when it comes to multiple facets or your life, including when you’re at work, the gym, school, etc.
Elderly adults need to be especially careful about avoiding dehydration, since many older people don’t have a strong sense of thirst — plus some may take medications that can increase fluid loss.
In addition to drinking water, aim to consumer other electrolytes too (magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium) by eating a healthy diet. If you’re an athlete or work out intensely, it’s even more critical to prevent fatigue and dizziness.
When it comes to digestive health, why is it good to drink water? Your kidneys and liver require water to clean your blood, produce urine and help your body to get rid of waste.
Increased water intake can also help prevent development of kidney stones.
You also need to be stay hydrated when sick in order to overcome the illness, since your body needs water to produce snot and phlegm, which are beneficial because they carry white blood cells and germs out of your diet.
When you drink water (and eat fiber), you’re less likely to deal with constipation and diarrhea, which can be worsened in some cases by dehydration. In addition to eating high-fiber foods, up your water intake in order to “keep things moving” and help you stay regular.
One of the benefits of drinking water over soda, juices and other sugary drinks is that it’s one of the easiest ways to avoid consuming excess calories. Sugary drinks can increase your risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even some types of cancer, so avoiding them should be one of the first steps you take in order to improve your health.
One “mini review” published in the journal Frontiers found evidence from human and animal studies that “increased hydration leads to body weight loss, mainly through a decrease in feeding, and a loss of fat, through increased lipolysis.” In other words, your body may burn more calories when you drink lots of water due to the positive effects it has on your metabolism and possibly energy expenditure.
Water from beverages and foods also takes up room in your stomach and can make you feel fuller. Foods with a high water content tend to be low in calories and often high in volume and fiber. (Think melon, apples, tomatoes and most other fruits and veggies.)
To make your skin glow, your eyes look brighter and your hair shinier, drink up. Dehydration can lead to bloodshot eyes, dried and lackluster skin, and brittle/weak hair.
How much water should you drink a day? While “eight glasses per day” has been the standard recommendation for adults for some years, the actual amount that you need depends on factors like your body size, activity level, age, diet, and how much alcohol, coffee and other drinks you consume.
Because not everyone agrees about how much water you should drink each day, here are recommendations from a few major health authorities:
Here are some tips for getting into the habit of drinking more water:
There’s more than one way to drink more water and get the benefits of drinking water, which is good news if you don’t necessarily like sipping on plain, unflavored water all day.
Try these variations on plain water. They can help you to meet your daily H2O needs and enjoy the benefits of drinking water:
Wondering if it’s safe to drink good old-fashioned tap water? Although many people prefer the taste of bottled water over tap water, it’s generally considered safe in most areas of the United States to drink from household taps.
Still, tap water may contain more fluoride than filtered or bottled water as well as certain chemicals and compounds that could be dangerous in high amounts. A good way to benefit from tap water while limiting risk is to install a water filter that can help decrease heavy metals and chemicals.
Is drinking only water healthy? In other words, should you drink other things too, such as juice or tea?
Disadvantages of drinking water only can include missing out on other electrolytes, including sodium/salt, and antioxidants found in drinks like tea, coffee and some juices. Overall, while water should be your main source of fluids, it’s not a bad idea to mix things up with other anti-inflammatory drinks too — just be sure to avoid sugary drinks, which are linked to obesity and other health concerns.
Can you drink too much water? Yes, it’s called water intoxication.
People who have thyroid disease or kidney, liver or heart problems need to be careful about balancing the amount of water they consume.
If you take daily medications (such as diuretics, thyroid medication, NSAIDs, opiate pain medications and some antidepressants) to help manage a chronic health condition, make sure you understand how this affects your water needs. Talk to your doctor about whether or not your meds may make you retain water or if they may increase your urine output.
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