Water is an essential part of making your body run in optimal condition, so those who want to feel healthier, think more clearly, and look better need to think carefully about their water intake.
Even if you aren’t a fan of the taste, drinking water is definitely worth the hassle. Keep reading to find out all the great benefits of water!
12 Advantages You Get From Drinking Water
Boost Your Energy and Physical Performance
If you want to be able to exercise easily, you need water. A 2007 study found that even the slightest bit of dehydration can impair your performance, especially in hot weather (1). You especially need water if you are doing any sort of endurance related activity like running (2).
Being dehydrated while you exercise is particularly bad because research shows it damages your DNA (3). If you want to exercise at peak performance, even adding just a little water will help you maintain your energy.
Boost Your Brain Function
Even lower dehydration levels of around 1 percent can start to reduce your concentration, impair your memory skills, and harm your critical thinking according to a 2012 study (4). In addition to making learning or taking a test harder, being dehydrated also harms your mood, making you feel anxious, grumpy, or irritable.
Get Rid of Headaches
One of the most frequent issues that people report when dehydrated is severe headaches (12). If you have a migraine, it is more likely to appear when you do not drink enough water because your brain tissue literally shrinks and pulls away from the skull when it doesn’t have enough water.
You can fix all this discomfort with just a little water. water‘s ability to reduce headaches is so strong that one trial with frequent headache sufferers found just drinking an extra liter of water per day decreased total hours of headaches by 95 percent (5).
We often try to take fiber when constipated, but research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that water intake was actually the most important part of dealing with constipation (13).
Getting enough water softens stool and makes it pass more easily. If you have access to carbonated water, it is an even better cure because it helps to move things along at a more rapid rate.
Prevent Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are tiny crystallized accumulations in the urinary tract that are both extremely uncomfortable and quite damaging to the kidneys. Just drinking water alone isn’t enough to guarantee you will never get kidney stones.
However, some interesting research from 2012 found that people who already had one kidney stone could greatly lower their risk of a second bout by drinking more water (14).
Keep Hangovers From Happening
Hangovers are a complex and unpleasant event. Though you cannot avoid the symptoms caused by toxic buildup, you can use water to address the pounding headaches that are often the worst part of a hangover.
Drinking alcohol greatly dehydrates you, which is why you get a hangover headache in the first place, but you can reduce the severity of these headaches by making sure you drink plenty of water in between each alcoholic drink.
Want to shed a couple pounds and get toned? Water can help in two ways. First of all, it helps to fill you up. Studies find that people over the age of 60 who drink water a half hour before their meal eat less calories during the actual meal (15).
Your body also burns calories to try and raise water from its chillier temperature to the temperature of your body. According to 2003 research, you burn an impressive amount of 400 calories by drinking two liters of chilly water (16).
Improve Your Skin
One of the key signs of dehydration that doctors look for is dry, papery skin and sunken eyes with dark circles under them. When you don’t get enough water, your body starts pulling water from your skin to keep your more important organs functioning.
Getting enough water each day helps skin to look plumper and thicker, and this reduces the appearance of wrinkles and scars.
Maintain Your Body Temperature
Water is a quick and easy way to keep your body at the right temperature since it travels through your system so quickly. In chilly temperatures, a warm drink is an easy way to heat up while a cup of cold water is useful when you’re hot.
Water also helps to regulate your temperature through sweating (7). When water passes through your pores, coats the surface of your skin, and evaporates into the air, it helps to lift excess heat away from your body and cool you down.
Get Rid of Waste
Water is an important part of your body’s waste removal system. When you eat or drink substances, there are invariably compounds in the substances your body cannot use. To remove these sorts of waste products, your body transfers them into your sweat and urine to expel them from the body.
Stabilize Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is associated with strokes, heart disease, and plenty of other issues, and your blood pressure is closely linked to your levels of sodium and water. Those who do not get enough water tend to suffer from chronically high blood pressure that puts a lot of strain on their system.
Water actually helps those with low blood pressure too. Research from the Nutrition Reviews journal found that sipping water can provide a small boost in blood pressure that helps to keep people from fainting during exercise and other physical activities (7).
Reduce Asthma Attacks
If you are one of the many people dealing with exercise induced asthma, water can provide a huge help. A 2003 study found that people who drank water before exercising were less likely to have an asthma attack while they were exercising (17).
Water seems to assist with proper breathing because the structures that make up your airways need to remain moist to properly process air. Even mild levels of dehydration can be enough to cause issues.
The Most Common Myths About Water
Unfortunately, there are quite a few misunderstandings about this useful liquid. Try to avoid being taken in by these common myths about water.
- Drinking water moisturizes your hair: The hair on your head is actually dead strands of protein, so the water you consume doesn’t affect it in any way. To really moisturize hair, you need to apply water and oils directly to the strands.
- Water helps your skin: According to the University of Wisconsin, water is sent to all other organs in your body before it reaches your skin (5). Unless you are severely dehydrated, you will get better skin by applying a topical moisturizer instead.
- Water boosts your immune system: You do need to drink more water when sick, but that is just because fevers and diarrhea make your body lose water. There is no evidence that water changes how the immune system functions.
- You need at least 8 glasses of water per day: Water requirements actually vary a lot depending on your age, size, activity level, and environment.
- Bottled water is better than tap water: Tap water itself is perfectly safe. Many bottled water companies just fill their bottles directly with tap water, and there is a concern that the plastic may leach harmful substances into the water.
- Being thirsty means you’re dehydrated: Experts have found that humans start feeling thirst when their plasma osmolality is still under 2 percent, but dehydration does not set in until plasma osmolality reaches at least 5 percent (8).
Important Facts You Need to Know About Water
Water is one of the most interesting and important substances that exists on Earth. It is essential for almost all types of life, and it even plays some surprising roles you might not think about.
Most of Your Body Is Just Water
Did you know that between 60 to 70 percent of the human body is actually just water? Water fills up each one of our cells, and we also carry a lot of water in the tiny gaps in between our cells. There’s water in all our major organs, but much of the water in the human body exists in the bloodstream.
Breathing Expels a Lot of Water
Urination is not the only way we get rid of water. You also lose over a cup of water each day just from breathing in and out (6). People who are breathing heavily while performing physical activities can lose even more water this way.
It’s Possible to Get Too Much Water
It is possible to have too much of a good thing when it comes to water. There are many reported cases of people dying from drinking too much water. Excessive water intake dilutes the sodium and other electrolytes in the blood, resulting in nausea, confusion, fatigue, and headaches.
One Pint of Beer Uses 20 Gallons of Water
We don’t think about it a lot, but a lot of water is put into processed foods. A single pint of beer doesn’t even contain a pint of water, yet it requires 20 gallons to be produced. Part of this total comes from the water used to brew the beer, but most of it comes from the water you need to grow grain.
Producing a Single Egg Takes a Lot of Water
In general, animal products require even more water because you have to take into account the water used to grow animal feed along with the water that the animal itself needs. Just one egg requires an average of 120 gallons of fresh water to produce it.
Get Water From Surprising Sources
When we talk about all the benefits of water, keep in mind that we are not just talking about plain water. You can actually find water in a surprising amount of foods and beverages.
Of course things like juice or alcohol are not ideal because they tend to contain a lot of sugar, but options like herbal tea, green tea, black tea, and caffeine can be a very healthy way for you to get water.
It is also possible to get a lot of your required water from fruits and vegetables. Fresh cantaloupe, strawberries, lettuce, watermelon, cabbage, spinach, and celery are made up of roughly 90 percent water (7).
You can also get a surprisingly decent amount of water from things like ricotta cheese, baked potatoes, ground beef, squash, and cooked broccoli.
How Much Water Do You Really Need?
It might surprise you to learn that the average person is actually getting a decent amount of water each day already. We actually get a decent amount of moisture from food, coffee, and other beverages, so the average person isn’t actually walking around dehydrated all the time.
Studies that have carefully examined our water intake find that the standard 64 ounces of water recommendation is only really true for those in dry environments or those who participate in physical activities (8).
People who are vomiting, doing extreme exercise, or sitting in a hot climate may actually need more than recommended. Due to this, nutritionist Barry Popkin concluded that it would be almost impossible to create a “one size fits all” water recommendation (7).
People’s water requirements fluctuate quite a bit depending on their circumstances and personal health. Fortunately, the human body is actually quite good at regulating hydration. Our kidneys rapidly get rid of waste water while we feel thirsty if we need water.
Research finds that the average person feels thirst significantly before they are even dehydrated (8). Therefore, your best way of making sure you drink enough water might just be listening to the cues from your own body.
6 Tips for Increasing Your Water Intake
If you aren’t getting enough water in your typical day, there are a few things you can do to boost your water intake to appropriate levels.
- Drink before a meal: The best time to try and drink a lot of water is before a meal. Aim for at least 500 milliliters before you eat because this fills up your stomach and helps you to lose weight. A 2015 University of Birmingham study found that people who did this lost almost ten pounds more on average (11).
- Eat fruits and veggies: In addition to containing a lot of water, fruits and vegetables also have fiber. This fiber helps your body to absorb water, and it can also aid in digestion.
- Always have water nearby: Set a cup of water on your desk, side table, or coffee table, so you can always take a sip when you need to.
- Drink water after you go to the bathroom: If you cannot remember to drink water on your own, aim to have a sip every time you visit the bathroom. Repeatedly doing this will form a habit, and eventually, you’ll find yourself automatically reaching for water every time you get up to go to the bathroom.
- Have a cup of water after each alcoholic beverage: This tip is ideal for nights where you have multiple drinks. Most of a hangover is dehydration, so you can reduce your headache the next day by making sure you down a glass of water after each alcoholic beverage.
- Get a marked water bottle: You can find clever water bottles that have timer marks on them. This is an easy way to regulate your water intake. You just fill it up at the start of the day, and drink down to each labeled mark at the appropriate time.
The Ultimate FAQ for Water
When should you drink more water than usual?
There are a few situations that can cause your body to lose water at a more rapid rate, including being in a hot climate, going for a run, having a fever, or experiencing diarrhea. Be sure to drink a bit of extra water in these situations.
Do we really need 8 glasses a day?
Research from a 2002 study indicates that eight glasses of water a day might not be enough (8).
What happens if you drink too much water?
Scientific expert C. Ballantyne explains that drinking too much water dilutes the electrolytes in your cells, leading to a potentially fatal bout of water intoxication (9).
Should you add lemon to your water?
This can be a great way to flavor your water and convince you to drink more if you don’t like water normally. The USDA says this can be a good way to get a little more vitamin C in your diet too (10).
Should you drink filtered or tap water?
This is actually just a matter of personal taste. Tap water is a remarkable achievement that allows millions of people to get access to safe, clean water. Home filtration really doesn’t do much to filter out the water, since you’d need expensive industrial equipment to get rid of things like trace metals, but you can do this if you prefer the flavor.