Water is brilliant. Odorless and tasteless, it does more for your body than food, exercise and sleep put together. Without water you would die faster than if you were deprived of food or sleep. About two-thirds of the human body is made up of water. So whether you like it or not, your body needs water to function optimally.
There are dozens of benefits of drinking water. It literally helps every bit of your body from head to toe. Before we get down to the benefits of drinking water – which are plentiful and wondrous – let’s take a brief look at what happens when you don’t drink enough of this miracle beverage.
What Happens When You Don’t Drink Enough Water?
Water is essential to life. Most of us don’t drink enough of it at any given time. During periods of stress or anxiety, we drink even less or none at all. For some people, the concept of drinking water everyday is alien. If you do not drink enough water, there will be uncomfortable and sometimes painful repercussions in the long run.
- Migraines and back pain can be caused by dehydration.
- So can indigestion and constipation.
- Your complexion will get dull if you do not drink enough water.
- Your kidneys need water to function optimally. People who do not drink enough water generally end up with kidney problems in the future.
- Your muscles need water too. You may notice muscle cramping when you get dehydrated. This is why water is recommended during exercise.
- Blood pressure can get erratic due to lack of water.
- Your brain is made up mostly of water which needs to be replenished. Drinking less water can reduce your alertness which in turn will affect your productivity.
- Dehydration can lead to death.
Just knowing what the lack of water does is enough to make anyone increase their water intake, no? However, our intention is to boost your enthusiasm for water so we’ll take you through the benefits of drinking water so that you can truly appreciate the miracles that water will work for you and make you want to drink water out of love, not fear.
Reasons to Drink More Water
Because So Much of the Body is Made Up Of It
The planet and our bodies are both made up of about 70% water. That should be message enough that it’s crucial for our survival. Your brain is 90% water. Blood follows with an 83% water content. Muscles contain 75% and even the bones are made up of 22% water. These are the most vital parts of the body and one of the benefits of drinking water is that it hydrates them and thus maintains smooth functioning of your entire system.
Carries Oxygen & Food Throughout the Body
The body is made up of trillions and trillions of cells. Each cell is an organism that needs food and oxygen to do its job in the same way that you as a person do. Water is the medium that carries them to the cells. This is why water is more important to the body than food.
Your Skin Will Love You For It
Ever read interviews of super-models and other beautiful women in the world where they reveal their beauty secrets? Well, then you may have noticed that one thing those articles all have in common is that they claim to drink loads of water every day.
Water hydrates your skin. Dry skin causes flakiness, itchiness as well as wrinkles and premature aging in the long run. By drinking more water, you moisturize your skin from within and have the upper hand in the battle with aging.
It’s never too late to start. Drink more water today and you will notice a change in your skin in a few weeks. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Except weight, which brings us to the next benefit of water…
It Has Zero Calories(!) And It Can Help You Lose Weight
Now how many beverages or foods in the world can truly make that uber awesome claim? None.
Water does not have one solitary calorie. It provides you with a host of benefits with absolutely no side effects and without going straight to your thighs or your generous bottom or your beer gut. So you can glug away without ever worrying about putting on weight.
This is great news because if you are trying to lose weight or cut down on emotional eating, experts recommend having a glass or two of water before each meal or every time you think you are hungry. Your cells send a signal to the brain when they are dehydrated and because we are so inept at reading what our bodies are trying to tell us, we interpret those signals as hunger and we proceed to ingloriously stuff our faces. Of all the times that you have given in to a hunger pang, you can be sure that at least half of those were your body crying out for water. Another reason that those gorgeous super-models with the hot bods recommend so much water.
But wait. There’s more amazing water news. Water helps to boost your metabolism too. This means you’ll be burning more calories with less effort simply by drinking more water. Note though that this does not apply if you do no exercise and if your diet consists mainly of junk food or high-calorie treats.
Flushes Out Toxins
‘Toxins? What toxins?’ we hear you say. ‘I eat healthy and I don’t drink or smoke and god knows I sweat it out at the gym five times a week so there are no toxins in me.’ We don’t mean to presume we know more about you or your body than you do, but we can assure you that if you live in the modern world, your body is filled with toxins you did not even know you were being exposed to. Don’t think it’s possible? Take a look at your life.
Most cosmetics, toiletries and cleaning products have hundreds of chemicals in them which are absorbed through your skin and which end up in your organs. Many of us eat a lot of processed foods which are filled with even more chemicals and preservatives which the body cannot always flush out through regular digestion. Do you commute for work, go grocery shopping or jog through the neighborhood a few times a week? All cities are so polluted that merely stepping outside puts you in contact with environmental toxins in the form of smoke, ultraviolet rays, dust and grime. Often, this seeps right through your skin and just stays in your body until you take steps to get it all out. Simply washing your face and body when you get home won’t cut it.
These toxins do not go anywhere. They stay right with you, in your body, making you sick ever so gradually. One of the main benefits of drinking water is that it naturally flushes out these toxins bit by bit on a regular basis.
Regulates Your Digestion
Those who are constipated or have diarrhea can bring their bowel movements back on track by drinking more water. In fact, people who drink enough water will need nothing more than a glass of water in the morning to get things moving instead of resorting to a cup of steaming coffee or tea.
Makes You Feel Better
We mentioned earlier that the brain is mostly water. Your brain controls how you think, feel and act. One of the wonderful benefits of drinking water is that it lifts your spirits, improves your productivity by making you more alert, and it can make you feel less fatigued as tiredness is also all in the brain. Plus, regular water intake will ensure that there is enough water and oxygen for your brain to function at its best.
Protects your Heart
Anything that’s good for your body is good for your heart. Studies have shown that one of the heart benefits of drinking water is that those who drink enough of it reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by 50%.
May Prevent Cancer
Cancer researchers suggest that one of the benefits of drinking water may be to prevent cancer or to aid in faster healing after chemotherapy. The theory is that cancer cells can be diluted and pushed out of the body the more water you drink. This is supported by the fact that one of the other benefits of drinking water – detoxification – also removes toxins from the body by breaking them down. Cancer cells can be viewed as toxic substances that need to be ejected from the body just like any other toxin. But, of course, this benefit of water is not going to help you overnight as it is more of a preventive measure in this case.
Cushions Your Joints
Pain in the knees, ankles, hip joints, elbows or wrists is usually caused by inflammation which is sometimes a result of less lubrication in your joints. Of course, water is not what lubricates the joints, but water does provide your body with what it needs to create the synovial fluid which is responsible for cushioning the joints as well as allowing you a wider range of motion.
How Much Water Do I Need?
See, the standard reply to this question is ‘2 liters a day’ or the more widely used ‘8 glasses a day’. In truth, this is no more than a generic statement and should be treated as a very loose benchmark. After all, we’re not all the same and we do not thus need the same things in life. Your water needs will be different from that of an athlete who trains for 5 hours a day. So how do you determine how much is enough for you to gain the benefits of drinking water?
Your water requirements are based on several factors:
- Your height and weight – The bigger you are the more water you need. Simple physics.
- Your level of activity – More simple physics coming your way. You may be just 5 feet tall but you will need more water than a 6 footer if you are physically active.
- The climate where you live – People living in tropical or very humid climates need more water than those living in cold climates.
- Your exposure to the sun – No matter where you live, the more time you spend outdoors the more water you need because even gentle sun can dehydrate your cells.
- Your health – Certain illnesses call for increasing your water intake. For example, if you have diarrhea or have been vomiting, your body loses a lot of fluids and you need to replenish it to prevent dehydration. Babies who have diarrhea can die if their bodily fluids are not replaced. Also drink more water if you have a fever or a bladder infection as the additional water helps remove whatever is making you sick. Those who develop stones in their urinary tract are also told to drink more water in the hopes of diluting the stone or at least reducing its size so that it is easier to pass. However, there are also illnesses where you may have to cut down on your water intake because your body is unable to process it like if you have a heart attack, kidney failure or problems with the liver.
- Do you drink a lot of coffee, tea or soft drinks? A lot here meaning more than 4 cups a day. If yes, then you need more water than those who drink less of these beverages as they all contain caffeine which acts as a diuretic. This means that you urinate a lot more, which affects the balance of water in your body. You need more water to replace what you are passing out.
- Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need more water. Pregnant women need about two and a half liters of water a day on average, more if they live in hot, humid climates. Women who are nursing need even more, over 3 liters of water a day.
Now how do you determine how much water you need? The answer is easier said than done, but it’s actually quite simple once you get the hang of it.
Taking care of yourself isn’t about calculations and numbers. You have to learn how to listen to your body because it knows best what it needs. Begin by drinking a glass of water every hour. As your body gets habituated to the fact that you are lovingly providing it with hydration, it will start communicating to you whether it wants more or less water. If you drink your water with the intention to love and take care of your body, you will automatically learn to accurately read the signals it sends out. Be patient though; if you are like most people then you haven’t listened to your body in awhile and it can be a couple of weeks or more for it to begin working. Once it does, you will not only be able to drink enough water for your needs you will also be able to eat only how much you need, know when you need to exercise and when you need to stay home from the gym, and sleep better because you will go to bed when you are actually sleepy not when your TV show is over.
If you are alert to your body’s signals, you will generally know whether or not you are getting enough water. We’ll take a brief look at the symptoms your body will manifest as a result of low water intake.
How Do I Know If I Need More Water?
The following signs indicate that you need more water. So instead of popping a pill or seeing your doctor to uncover the mystery of these symptoms, try increasing your water intake first.
You Feel Thirsty
This is an obvious sign that you need more water but it is often overlooked by many people. They’ll reach for a soda, beer, lemonade, iced tea or cold coffee when they feel thirsty, rarely a glass of water when it is this last that your body really craves.
You Feel Hungry Often
There is a saying by Eric Hoffer – ‘You can never get enough of what you don’t really want.’ This saying applies to a body craving water too.
Most of us have forgotten how to listen to our bodies. Our bodies, knowing this, know also that they have to change their tactics to be heard. When you ignore your thirst, your body has to try other ways to get your attention. It will then proceed to mimic hunger signals, knowing that you will eat and it can then perhaps get some moisture from the food you eat. However, you would have to eat a LOT for your body’s water needs to be satisfied, and the hunger won’t go away until you do eat all that much. So you are not getting enough (food) because it is not what your body really wants (water).
Therefore, if you find that you are hungry all the time despite eating well for your body type and physical activity, then it is usually a sign that you are not getting enough water. If you continue to eat a lot even after drinking more water, then it may be a symptom of a psychological or physiological illness and you should get yourself checked by a health professional to figure out the cause.
You Are Tired All the Time
No calories but still an energy booster, one of the benefits of drinking water is that it will make you feel more alert. If you are having a stressful day or can feel one your headaches coming on, have a glass or two of water and you will notice the difference within a few minutes. Constant fatigue despite a regular sleeping pattern can indicate that you need more water.
Your Urine is Dark Yellow
Normal urine is either transparent or light yellow, it is also mostly odorless or has a slightly tangy or musky smell. When you do not drink enough water, the waste that your body is trying to eject through urine does not have enough water to get diluted with so your urine tends to have a strong smell and be a shade of dark yellow, sometimes bordering on orange.
If your body does not get enough water to hydrate the organs, it is not going to spend its limited moisture to hydrate your skin cells or your follicles as these are not vital to survival. So you may notice that your skin and hair both get very dry if you go for days without drinking sufficient amounts of water.
Note that although you should be drinking more water, there is indeed such a thing as taking it too far and drinking too much of it. Drinking too much water can put a strain on your kidneys resulting in lower levels of sodium in your body, which leads to hyponatremia – a health condition characterized by very low sodium levels in the blood.