Adding water to your diet is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your health.
Unfortunately, many kids in the United States are raised on sugary sodas and juices and grow up skipping the H20. This habit often persists into adulthood with potentially detrimental effects.
The standard for water intake used to be eight cups a day, but many experts have backed off that guideline in recent years. In reality, everyone needs a different amount of water based on diet, exercise, and various other factors. That being said, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that drinking less than four cups of water a day is probably inadequate for a healthy adult.
In a 2007 CDC study, 43.7 percent of respondents reported drinking less than four cups of water a day. That doesn’t sound too troubling until you consider that our brains are about 85 percent water, and our muscles are 70-75 percent water. In short, it’s an essential chemical component of our bodies that we should be replenishing.
Here are several ways that increasing your water intake can provide health benefits:
The most obvious benefit to drinking more water is hydration. The Internet has helped spread the idea that 75 percent of the country’s population is chronically dehydrated. That’s probably an exaggeration, but there are definitely a lot of people who could use some more of the clear stuff.
Dehydration can drain your energy, making you sluggish. It can also cause headaches when your body starts to squeeze your brain and muscles for any bit of water it can find. Try grabbing a glass of H20 to counteract these effects. You’ll feel better in no time!
One of the best things about water is that it has 0 calories. Slamming bottles of water isn’t going to magically make you shed 50 pounds. But when you consider a can of regular soda contains more than 100 calories, it’s an easy substitution that could save you hundreds of calories per day.
Water might also be valuable in curbing hunger because it fills your stomach. A 2010 clinical trial found that drinking two cups of water before meals decreased calorie intake and aided weight loss. Additionally, drinking cold water forces the body to warm up slightly to keep a consistent temperature of 98.6. It only burns about eight calories, but that’s better than nothing!
Experts have gone back and forth on whether water truly helps people lose weight. A 2004 German study presented interesting results on the subject, though. The study showed that after drinking 17 ounces of water, the subjects’ metabolic rates increased by 30 percent for both men and women.
The study said the increase started within 10 minutes of drinking water and peaked after about half an hour. The researchers estimated an average person could burn thousands of extra calories a year simply by drinking more water every day. It probably won’t give you a six pack, but it won’t hurt either!
Drinking water is especially important when exercising. If your muscles don’t maintain a normal balance of water and electrolytes, this can lead to muscle fatigue. That’s bad enough, as it can result in reduced power, speed, and mental focus. However, dehydration and muscle fatigue during exercise are also thought to contribute to muscle cramps.
It’s a rather painful ordeal that no one wants to endure. To avoid this, make sure your water intake is adequate before exercising. According to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, you should drink 17 ounces (about two cups) of water at least two hours ahead of exercise to avoid dehydration.
Keeping hydrated is the best way to flush toxins from your body. We get rid of that waste primarily through urine, and drinking plenty of water helps the process because it’s a natural diuretic. More bathroom trips might be annoying, but that’s a small price to pay for your health.
Evidence also suggests that drinking plenty of water helps prevent kidney stones (something you really don’t want to experience) and urinary tract infections.
Water also plays an important role in digestion. It can stimulate the gastrointestinal tract, which helps digestion and intestinal transit. That’s a fancy way to say water will help keep you from becoming constipated.
More often than not, simply drinking more water (instead of relying on harsh laxatives) will resolve problems with constipation.
Dry wrinkled skin is another nasty side effect of dehydration. Your skin contains water (like many other parts of your body) and needs it to function properly. Taking in plenty of water will keep you looking your best.
Remember this the next time someone asks for your drink order!