Just like regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and mental health care, hydration is vital to our wellbeing. However, there isn’t always enough emphasis on drinking water for your body’s hydration needs. As soda, sugary drinks, and caffeine have become more common beverages during mealtimes and throughout the day, many people are not sufficiently hydrated, and they may not even know it.
Drinking water is important as it benefits our physical health and overall wellbeing, so let’s talk about why you should drink more of it!
Drinking Water Supports Brain Function
The human brain is approximately 73% water. If you aren’t drinking enough water each day, it will affect your ability to concentrate, stay alert, and retain memories. The brain also relies on water to manufacture hormones and regulate neurotransmitters.
Water delivers vital minerals and nutrients to support our body’s functions. The brain specifically receives nutrients from water that help get rid of waste and toxins from the blood. If the body isn’t getting enough water, it can allow toxins to remain in the blood and harm the brain. In addition to its effects on focus and attention, dehydration can also affect your mood.
Drinking Water Supports Physical Activity
Regular exercise is an important factor in health and wellness, but you need to stay hydrated to reap its benefits. No matter what form of exercise you enjoy (aerobic exercise, strength training, or even yoga) physical activity causes our bodies to heat up and release water via sweat.
An estimated 80% of the muscles in the body are made of water, so during mild or rigorous exercise, dehydration can cause problems. Water regulates body temperature and helps our bodies cool down during and after exercise. If the body is dehydrated, this can alter temperature regulation and homeostasis. Since water is also responsible for energy levels, dehydration can also lead to a lack of energy and physical exhaustion.
Staying hydrated improves physical performance, helps the body regulate temperature during extreme exercise, promotes muscle health, and increases energy. Drinking more water and staying hydrated helps you get the exercise your body needs to stay healthy!
Drinking Water Supports Digestion
Another benefit of drinking water is its support for the digestion system, especially when it comes to constipation. If you have constipation, you may have less than three bowel movements per week, difficulty passing stool, or even pain when passing stool.
The second most common reason for constipation is dehydration from changing water intake levels. The colon is responsible for absorbing water from our digested food and forming stool in our digestive tract. However, if we don’t have enough water, stool can become too solid and hard to pass.
If you have constipation, drinking an extra two to four cups of water per day can help relieve it. You can also try drinking a mineral water rich in magnesium and sodium. This promotes the passing of stool and stool frequency.
Drinking Water Promotes Weight Loss
The benefits of drinking water extend to weight loss as well! There are three ways water helps the body lose weight.
It promotes fullness.
Drinking one or two glasses of water before meals can help you eat fewer calories because it makes you feel full, which can prevent you from overeating. One glass of water before a meal can help you lose as much as five pounds in just 12 weeks. Along with a balanced diet and varied nutrition, drinking water can help you consume less unneeded calories and monitor weight!
It speeds up metabolism.
Similar to promoting digestion and relieving constipation, drinking water can help speed up your metabolism. Water regulates our body’s blood volume and circulation. This means drinking water helps our blood transfer oxygen transfer to our organs and tissues.
Being dehydrated slows down these processes and in turn slows down the metabolism. Just drinking two eight-ounce glasses of water can increase metabolism by 30%, which increases the calories and fats our bodies are able to burn throughout the day.
It eliminates toxins from our bodies.
Just like water helps eliminate toxins from the brain, it helps rid our entire bodies of these toxins and wastes. Water flushes these toxins from our bodies and promotes homeostasis, which aids in weight loss.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
Hydration is important for a number of reasons, but just how much water should you be drinking? Drinking eight ounces of water a day is a good rule of thumb, but there are a few conditions where you may need to drink more.
In total, women need 11.5 cups of water each day and men need 15.5 cups from food, beverages, and plain water. This adds up to 2.7 liters of water for women and 3.7 liters for men. These levels may increase if you live in a hot or humid area, partake in regular, intense exercise, are pregnant, or are sick with a fever or illness that causes diarrhea or vomiting. In these scenarios, you may need to supplement your diet with more water to stay healthy and hydrated!
How To Know If You’re Drinking Enough
Here are two main ways to know if you’re getting enough water to stay hydrated:
Your urine is a light color or has no color. If your urine is very dark and strong, you may be dehydrated
You don’t feel thirsty. If you often feel thirsty, this is your body’s way of saying it needs more water.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
If hydration isn’t a part of your daily routine, here are some tips to help you easily drink more water throughout the day!
Add flavor to your water.
When choosing between a glass of water and a cup of coffee or soda, flavor is a determining factor. There are plenty of ways to add flavor to a glass of water. Consider cutting up lemon slices, orange slices, or cucumbers to add refreshing flavors to your water.
You can also find a flavor enhancer at your local grocery store to add flavor to your water! Make sure these flavorings are low in sugar, as too much sugar can have a dehydrating effect.
Make a water-drinking schedule.
If drinking water isn’t on your mind throughout the day, a drinking schedule might help. Whether you want to write your schedule in a planner, on a piece of notebook paper taped to your fridge, or in a reminder on your phone, find some way to remind yourself that you should be drinking a glass of water multiple times during the day. Here is a rough drinking schedule you can use:
Drink one glass of water when you wake up and one glass with breakfast. You can also drink milk or a low-sugar juice to promote hydration. In between breakfast and lunch, have another glass of water. Drink a glass of water before lunch and another while you eat lunch. In between lunch and dinner, try drinking two glasses of water. Have another glass before dinner and one with dinner and drink a glass of water a few hours before going to bed.
If you have bladder leaks and are worried about accidents during the night, you can drink the last glass of water with your last meal. This will give you enough time after your last glass of water to empty your bladder before you go to bed. If you’re worried about nighttime incontinence, you can also use a bed protector or
overnight protection underwear to help you stay dry and sleep worry-free.
Bring a water bottle with you wherever you go.
Often, the best way to get into a habit is to keep something with you that reminds you of that activity. If you want to drink more water, carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day not only helps you remember to hydrate, but it’s a convenient way to drink on the go!
Eat hydrating foods.
Other than drinking glasses of water, milk, and low-sugar juices, there are also foods that can promote hydration. These include watermelon, cucumber, celery, and spinach. In fact, most other vegetables and fruits are nearly 100% water by weight, so incorporating frequent fruit and vegetable snacks can help you stay hydrated!
Avoid dehydrating foods and drinks.
Likewise, there are some foods that promote dehydration that you should stay away from. These include sugary snacks, salty snacks, and snacks that are heavily processed. While sweets are fine in moderation and salty snacks are fine every now and then, having these snacks regularly can cause dehydration.
Drinking water promotes an abundance of physical functions such as brain health, positive moods, increased energy levels, physical function, and digestion. It can even help you lose weight! By knowing the importance of drinking enough water each day and incorporating these tips into your routine, you can stay hydrated.