Seven Health Benefits of Drinking Water That You Didn’t Know
How much water should I drink? For people who are taking their health seriously, this is a common question. Dehydration is the cause of a lot of problems and unpleasant side effects, but most of us don’t get enough water each day.
Conventional knowledge says to drink 64 ounces of pure, filtered water every day. While that number is a good starting point, it might not necessarily be the optimum water intake level for everyone, and you may even benefit drinking from significantly more each day.
1. Helps with weight loss efforts. Turning to water instead of soda, juice, or sports drinks can cut hundreds of calories out of your daily intake. Same goes for food – choosing water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, soups, and oatmeal over less healthy, less filling foods will help you cut the calories without feeling like you’re “doing without” your normal amounts of food and drink. You’ll be feeling fuller for longer, and taking in fewer calories to boot. Note: it’s that reduction in calories, not a magical property of water itself, that contributes to weight loss.
2. Keeps muscles working. Water is what keeps cellular chemistry balanced, and when cells get out of whack, they shrink and shrivel up. When that happens, muscles are more prone to fatigue or weakness. This is why it’s critical to drink enough water when you’re exercising – not doing so could lead to muscle weakness or even injury. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that people drink 17 ounces of fluids about two hours before working out, and to start a workout with more fluids, drinking them regularly throughout the workout as well.
3. Carries nutrients. Water is the bodily fluid that transports nutrients, minerals, and oxygen to and from the cells. Having enough water to provide every cell of the body with a steady supply of what it needs is crucial to keep you functioning at your best. Cells that are deprived of water, nutrients, oxygen, and other things they need are not able to function well, but a well-fed cell is the key to a healthy, smooth-running body.
4. Flushes toxins from organs. In the same way that water carries good things to the cells, it carries bad things away from the cells. An ample supply of water makes it easier for cells to rid themselves of waste and toxins, and a steady stream of water to carry those things away makes it easier for the body to detoxify itself quickly and efficiently.
5. Natural headache remedy. Some scientists say the brain is 90% water. If the body’s water supply is depleted, that puts pressure on the brain to function without an adequate supply of its biggest element. Brain function is impaired, and people who are dehydrated are subject to headaches, migraines, and other problems. Next time you get a headache, try drinking a glass of room-temperature water ten or twenty minutes before popping a pain reliever, and see if the headache goes away on its own. Your headache could be caused by any number of reasons, but “aspirin deficiency” is never one of them.
6. Protects the joints and keeps them moving. Water is a critical element of proper joint function. It’s a major component of the natural lubricant between bones, so a shortage of water means a shortage of “grease” that keeps your bones moving and protects from damage. If you’ve noticed more trouble with sprains or joint pain lately as compared to usual, you may want to increase your water intake to see if it makes a difference.
7. Regulates body temperature. Generally speaking, about two thirds of the body is water. Having the relatively huge amount of water distributed all throughout the body means that sudden changes in temperature are less likely, which is a good thing because a rapid shift in body temperature could spell trouble for all sorts of internal systems and functions.
A note about too much water
When it comes to water, it is absolutely possible to overdo it. So how do you know how much is too much? If you’re looking for a physiological response, watch out for these signs of having too much water, also known as water intoxication:
– Nausea (this is usually an immediate symptom, because the stomach can’t handle the amount of water it’s been given)
– Dizziness, slurred speech, impaired brain function, hallucinations
– Muscle cramps, weakness or fatigue
– Noticeable puffiness or bloating
Scientists say that a healthy set of kidneys can process as much as 15 liters of water every day, so the potential danger of water intoxication has more to do with drinking too much too fast and overloading the system than just drinking too much. If you drink your water steadily throughout the day, it would be very difficult to reach the point of water intoxication. That said, however, it is a possibility, so you may want to re-think if your plan is to pound back a gallon of water before bed to make up for what you didn’t get in throughout the day.
Water is by far the most critical element of your diet, and not getting enough water can lead to serious consequences, quickly. Quite a few of the normal minor aches and complaints experienced by most people could be attributed to dehydration, so changing your approach from pain pills to water is a good first step not only in detoxifying your body of chemicals from medications, but of addressing potential problems that are hiding below the surface. Not keen on the taste of plain water? Add a squeeze of a lemon – there are loads of additional health benefits of drinking lemon water, too. So do yourself a favor and start sipping the good stuff throughout the day. The only difference you may notice at first is a need to go to the bathroom more often, but give it just a couple of days and your body will adjust, and then start to thank you for it.
Want to learn more about benefits of drinking water? About.com and Buzzle have very informative articles about water intoxication. Web MD has an interesting article revealing 6 reasons to drink water.
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