Since we have access to clean drinking water, we tend to forget how truly essential it is for life. Obviously, when you don’t drink enough water, dehydration sets in. But what you may not know is this rapidly decreases your body’s ability to function properly. Although you can go weeks without food, you can only survive five to seven days without water.
Drinking water for survival purposes makes sense, but what about the other benefits? How does it affect our organs and overall health? Once you recognize the true value of water, you’ll think twice before choosing that next sugary beverage. Drinking more water can help you in the following eight ways.
1. Helps Flush Out Toxins
Although your liver, kidneys and digestion system naturally work to eliminate toxins, we are in contact with too many every day. Through our food and pollution, we’re exposed to various unfamiliar and unnatural toxins. When the body can’t eliminate toxins fast enough, a build-up often occurs which leads to declining overall health.
Water is also helpful with digestive health (which is discussed below). Our kidneys work hard to filter our blood, eliminating toxic substances through our urine. You need to consume enough water to keep this system balanced. The same is true for many other organs, including the bladder and liver.
2. Weight-Loss Aid
Not only is water a zero-calorie drink, it actually helps to promote weight-loss! A German study found that a higher intake of water increased the rate at which calories burn. It was found that when individuals drank 17 ounces of water, their metabolic rates increased by up to 30% for both men and women.
Another simple fact is when you drink water with your meals, it allows you to feel fuller, longer! If you’re exercising as part of your weight-loss program, water will help you maintain the health of your joints and muscles because when you’re properly hydrated, you experience less soreness.
3. Improves Complexion
Our skin is the largest organ we have, protecting us in ways we take for granted. Just like any other organ, our skin is composed of countless cells. Since cells are made up of water, it’s literally essential to consume enough. When you don’t drink enough water your cells cannot function at an optimal level. When your skin is dehydrated, you experience dry, flaky skin. Drinking enough water can also prevent wrinkles by keeping your skin healthy from the inside!
4. Reduces Fatigue
One of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue. If you feel tired and lack concentration, these might be signs you need to drink more water. When your water levels drop by even 1% this rapidly begins to hinder your ability to concentrate. This fact is important for everyone, but especially for athletes.
Without proper hydration, you can experience sore muscles. Your recovery period may also increase, leading to injury. Once you reach 3% water-loss, your performance will decrease by up to 10%. Not only will you feel mentally and physically tired, that 10% decrease can make the difference between winning a silver or a gold medal!
5. Aids in Proper Digestion
When you drink enough water, you help maintain proper functioning of your digestive system. Water is not essential for digestion, but it sure does help! When you drink enough water you help flush toxins from your intestines. You also prevent constipation, which can lead to other complications.
Water works by flushing out waste and toxins, which is essential for our overall health. It also helps transport nutrients where they need to go. If you’re not consuming enough water, your colon can become dry. Water is a natural lubricant, which helps soften your stool. This improves our body’s ability to excrete wastes and toxins.
6. Reduces Headache Pain
When we feel a headache coming on, we often reach for medication. Sure, pain medication is an easy fix, but it’s not the healthiest option. One of the most common causes of headaches is dehydration. It’s important that you understand why you get headaches so you can prevent them.
For example, you may experience fatigue because you do not drink enough water. The fatigue you’re experiencing may be directly linked to your headaches. Once you treat the core issue, which in this case is dehydration, you can eliminate your headache. So the key is, to help prevent headaches, stay hydrated! (That said, if you have constant, persistent headaches you should speak with your healthcare professional.)
7. Reduces Your Risk of Stroke and Heart Attacks
When you drink enough water, your blood is more fluid. When your blood is more fluid, it doesn’t clot as easily. Blood clots contribute to both heart attacks and stroke, as your oxygen supply becomes jeopardized.
Consuming enough water also positively influences your blood pressure. Since water helps you excrete excess salt, this can benefit your blood pressure. When you keep your blood pressure in check, you prevent further complications concerning your cardiovascular health.
8. Improves Cognitive Functioning
Our brain is made up of approximately 80% water. Once you become dehydrated, your cognition is affected. Your concentration levels will be negatively affected as well as your short-term memory. Math skills are especially hindered when there’s a lack of water consumption. Linked once again to energy, our brain will experience fatigue.
It is generally recommended that you drink around eight glasses of water a day. However, this number is just a guideline as height, weight, age, fitness levels and other factors play a role. Since you already consume around 20% of your daily intake through the foods you eat, drinking approximately two liters a day is recommended. That’s about 67 ounces and little over 8 cups. So consider consuming about 4 tall glasses of water a day and you’re on your way to better overall health!