Simply drinking more water can improve your overall mental and physical health in more ways than you can imagine. It’s one of the easiest ways to feel better overall. Your energy will improve. Your skin will look more radiant. Your digestive system and brain will both thank you. Even your mood is likely to improve.
What is the Magic Elixir?
Water. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water. Each day humans must consume a certain amount of water to survive, and drinking water helps our bodies to function correctly. We lose water through sweat, urine, and merely breathing. When you don’t drink enough water each day, your body will suffer the physical and mental effects, which include irritability, headaches, constipation, fatigue, muscle cramps, UTI’s, and much more.
It’s called being dehydrated. Many of us walk around each day in a mildly dehydrated body, or even worse, a seriously dehydrated system. Dehydration may cause several common physical problems, but many of us continue to struggle to drink enough water.
Sometimes a little education helps. What are the benefits of drinking more water? Here’s a list of just a few of the benefits of drinking enough water each day and how to tell if you’re well hydrated. But before reaching for that single-use disposable plastic bottle, make sure to equip yourself with one of these reusable bottles instead. Make it a habit to carry your reusable bottle with you throughout the day and refill it whenever possible.
What are the benefits of staying hydrated?
Your brain function will improve.
Let’s start with your brain. Being dehydrated can disrupt your mood, making you easily irritated, quick to anger, and even anxious or upset. It affects your cognitive functioning. Dehydration makes it harder to think which disrupts your concentration and impacts your short term memory.
One study demonstrated that people who had lower levels of hydration consistently had increased fatigue, confusion, and anger. The subjects in the study also struggled with concentration, short term memory, and alertness when less hydrated.
When dehydrated, even simple cognitive tasks feel harder and concentrating becomes more difficult, both in men and women. If you find yourself feeling irritable, anxious, or unable to focus, dehydration may be the cause. Try drinking some water. Even better, make it a habit to drink water as a part of daily self-care.
Children and the elderly are at particular risk of becoming dehydrated. Encourage children to drink water, especially after playing outside on a warm day. Children may not recognize the need for hydration and can quickly feel the effects of dehydration. Buy them a fun water bottle and help them make drinking water a habit.
Make sure your parents are drinking enough water, especially as they get older. Dehydration is a particular concern for the elderly. Not getting enough water can be a risk factor for delirium and even cause symptoms resembling dementia. One study noted increased confusion in long-term care residents who were dehydrated. Older adults have less thirst sensation and often fail to get enough fluids. It’s essential to encourage them to drink water throughout the day.
Your brain works better when it’s well hydrated. Drink some water.
You may have fewer headaches.
While we’re talking about the brain, another side effect of dehydration can be headaches, especially migraines. While more studies are needed, drinking water has been shown to help lessen the pain of headaches. In one study, maintaining adequate hydration helped decrease the duration and intensity of headaches.
Researchers theorize that certain types of migraines are caused by shrinkage of the brain due to fluid loss, which pulls the brain away from the skull. When you drink more water, the brain expands back to normal size, and the pain decreases.
Put quite simply, try drinking water as a cheap and straightforward way to get rid of a headache.
You might eat less.
Often, we mistake thirst for hunger and find ourselves eating when we actually should be drinking water. Drinking water before eating can help you pay more attention to your actual need for food intake. In one study, drinking water before a meal helped obese adults consume less food. This effect was particularly noticeable in older adults. In another study, older adults who drank water before eating lost 44% more weight in 12 weeks than those who didn’t consume water. Try drinking a glass of water before meals. It can help you notice your body’s signal that you have had enough food.
You will have more energy.
Quite simply, drinking water increases your energy. Studies have shown that drinking more water improves both cognitive and physical energy. It can help you both with your athletic performance on the court and staying sharp at your desk after a big lunch.
According to multiple studies, dehydration affects athletic performance. You may feel sluggish and off your best game. One study observed that dehydration negatively impacts physical performance for any activity that lasts longer than 30 seconds. So even if you’re not training for a marathon, drinking enough water may make it easier to take the stairs or chase the kids.
Dehydration also makes you feel tired or sleepy. If you find yourself struggling to stay awake at work, even when you’re getting enough sleep, you may simply need to drink more water.
Drinking water is a simple way to find more energy and to be there for the people who matter.
You may have fewer tummy troubles.
Drinking more water also keeps you moving in other ways. Being well hydrated helps with acute bouts of constipation. Dehydration is a common cause of slow-moving bowels, so this could be an easy fix for that common problem. If you have chronic constipation, the problem is more complex, and while drinking water will help, it probably won’t solve the problem.
While we’re on the subject, it’s easy to lose critical amounts of water through your gastrointestinal tract if you’re suffering from diarrhea or loose bowels. If you’re having stomach troubles, drink extra water to make sure you stay well hydrated.
And carbonated water can help with an upset stomach. The effect is not entirely understood but try some carbonated water for a bout of nausea.
You will do your heart a favor.
A lower resting heart rate has been connected to a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, even when your heart is beating within the normal range of 60-100 beats per minute. When you’re dehydrated, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to your arms and legs because you have less blood circulating throughout your body. If you’re low on water, your resting heart rate will be higher. It’s a great reason to carry a water bottle with you and make sure you stay hydrated.
You might try wearing a fitness watch. Some fitness wearables can measure your heart rate, so you can track your heart rate and watch your hydration efforts pay off.
Your kidneys will be happier.
Your kidneys need a sufficient supply of water to function, and kidney function is vital for your entire system. Your kidneys remove toxins from your blood and urine, and their function is impaired by dehydration. If you’re not getting enough fluid, you may end up with a buildup of toxins in your system. You can ditch the bone broth and expensive green juices. Drinking water is a detox that has been demonstrated to work.
Drinking water and being well hydrated also helps prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney stones, two painful conditions. It’s another motivation to fill up that water bottle and drink more water.
How much water does your body need?
The answer to this question depends on your body size, your activity level, and other biological and environmental factors.
Conventional wisdom tells us to drink eight glasses of water each day. The truth of the matter is that everybody has different needs for hydration. Doctors recommend paying attention to the signals you receive from your body.
The first recommendation is to drink before you feel thirsty. By the time you start to feel thirsty, your body is already becoming dehydrated. Keep a water bottle with you and sip from it regularly.
Another method of gauging hydration is to check your urine. Urine should be a pale yellow color. You need to “pee pale.” If your urine is dark yellow, you are dehydrated and need to drink some water.
Another clue is to test your skin elasticity. Use two fingers to pinch your skin on your wrist or the back of your hand. Hold gently for a few seconds, then let go. If your skin quickly smooths back into place, you’re sufficiently hydrated. If it takes some time to return to normal, you need to drink some water. You’re dehydrated.
Drinking water is an easy addition to preventative health care. Try carrying a water bottle around with you and refilling it regularly during the day. Make sure children and older adults also remember to drink enough water.