We all know that we should drink plenty of water every day, but do you really know why? Staying hydrated is important for our overall health and wellbeing and it benefits us in more ways than you might think! Here are just a few reasons to make sure you’re drinking enough water!
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How much water should you be drinking?
According to NHS England, we should all be aiming for 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day. This includes milk, flavoured drinks, soda as well as tea and coffee in this total. You’ll also need to increase this amount if you’re exercising or when the weather is hot.
We should also be mindful of the type of fluids we are drinking. Most sodas and flavoured drinks contain huge amounts of sugar, even fancy coffees may contain sugar-rich syrups. As part of a healthy lifestyle, we should all try and replace some of these drinks with water. Water is not only good for us but it is also a cheap choice for quenching our thirst at any time of day.
A good way to check if you are drinking enough water is to check your urine. The colour of your urine should be a pale yellow. If your urine is clear you could be drinking too much and if it’s dark in colour you probably aren’t drinking enough. However, it’s also important to note that some medications, supplements and foods such as beetroot can also affect urine colour.
Can you drink too much water?
Drinking too much water can cause water toxicity. This means that all the excess water in the body can dilute essential electrolytes in the blood. This can then lead to headaches and confusion and in extreme cases lead to muscle weakness, seizures and even coma.
Although drinking too much water can be bad for you, it can be extremely hard to do so. The kidneys can remove 28 litres of fluid a day but they can not excrete more than 1 litre an hour. More than this can become harmful.
However, I wouldn’t worry about this too much, for most people drinking more than 3 litres a day can be a challenge!
Does drinking tea, coffee and fizzy drinks count?
Although you can get a good fluid intake from all kinds of drinks. Many drinks such as tea, coffee and fizzy drinks are forms of diuretics. This means that they increase the amount of water and salt that is expelled from the body as urine.
This may not sound like a bad thing but it can be bad for our health. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water with around 85% in our brain and 50% in our blood. Without adequate fluid intake, we may become dehydrated which can then affect us mentally and physically.
This is why drinking water is so critical to our health.
10 Health benefits of drinking enough water:
So, as previously stated drinking enough water each day is an essential element in maintaining our overall health. But what are the benefits of drinking more water?
1. Water helps with weight loss
For those of us who are trying to lose weight, drinking more water can help us in a variety of ways such as:
1. By drinking a glass of water before each meal, research has shown that can help reduce the number of calories consumed.
2. By swapping sugary drinks for water some people can considerably reduce the number of calories consumed without much effort.
3. Water is a natural appetite suppressant. When the stomach is full it sends out a message to the brain to tell it to stop eating. Drinking water takes up space in the stomach giving us the feeling of fullness thus reducing hunger.
4. Research estimates that drinking cold water can result in 2-3% more calories burned for around 90 minutes after consumption.
2. Water helps clear the skin
Most people don’t realise that the skin is classed as an organ and is made up of around 65% water. Without adequate hydration, the skin isn’t able to function properly resulting in dry, tight and flaky skin.
By drinking enough water, it helps the skin maintain a moisturised soft complexion and reduces the appearance of wrinkles! Healthy skin also helps provide a barrier against harmful compounds such as bacteria from entering the body.
3. Water helps flush out toxins
Water helps the body flush out toxins and transports nutrients around the body. When dehydrated our bodies start to conserve fluid by upping the concentration of chemicals and waste fluids. This is why your urine starts to look concentrated and dark in colour. If these chemicals and waste products start to build up it can hurt our health.
On the other hand, staying hydrated, ensures our bodies don’t retain water. This means that any excess toxins are eliminated from our bodies in our urine.
Another benefit of drinking plenty of water is that our kidneys can function efficiently meaning we are less prone to developing kidney stones. These ‘stones’ form when minerals in our blood build up and start to crystallise. These hard stones can then cause extreme pain and further reduce the body’s ability to flush out toxins from the body.
4. Water stops headaches and dizziness
One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is headaches and dizziness. When our brains don’t have enough fluid to function properly it starts to shrink. This action forces the brain to pull away from the skull resulting in headaches.
Also, without enough fluids, the volume of blood in the body decreases resulting in a sudden loss of blood pressure. This stops the brain from getting enough blood which can lead to dizziness.
So next time your feel lightheaded or get a niggling headache to try a glass or two of water.
5. Water helps the body fight infections
Want to know the best way of staying healthy during cold and flu season, drink more water!
Many people don’t realise how important water is to maintaining a healthy immune system. Water helps the immune system in two ways. Firstly, as previously stated, water helps our organs and other bodily functions to work efficiently. Secondly, when our body is functioning at an optimal level it can get rid of all those toxins that can potentially cause illness. Essentially without adequate hydration, our body can’t work as it should resulting in a compromised immune system.
6. Water helps keeps your digestive system in check
Like every other bodily function, our digestive system needs water to function properly. Water not only helps our body to break down food ensuring good nutrition absorption, but it also stops us from becoming constipated and keeps us regular.
Maintaining a healthy digestive system can also prevent an overly acidic stomach which can increase the risk of heartburn and stomach ulcers.
7. Water helps your heart
Water is a critical component of heart health. Your heart pumps blood around the body, providing our cells and organs with the necessary oxygen and nutrients to function. When we become dehydrated our heart has to work harder to pump this blood, resulting in an increased heart rate, palpitations and an irregular heartbeat.
This is because when we become dehydrated our blood becomes thicker putting a strain on the heart. Over time this can result in the formation of blood clots and blockage of the arteries. If this happens we are at high risk of having a stroke or heart attack!
8. Water helps improve circulation
The circulatory system consists of the heart, blood vessels and blood. This closed system pumps oxygenated blood from the heart to all areas of the body and deoxygenated blood back towards the heart via the lungs.
Our blood is what carries this oxygen and other nutrients around the body. It also carries white blood cells which fight infection and platelets which can stop us from bleeding after injury. By maintaining hydration, blood and other compounds can move easily around the body to wherever they may be needed. As previously stated, when we become dehydrated our blood becomes thicker which can compromise the blood flow around the body.
This may result in our hands and feet not getting enough oxygen resulting in numbness and feeling cold. Poor circulation can also lead to dry skin, and brittle nails and even make your hair fall out! If you suffer from diabetes you may also find it takes longer for wounds, scrapes or sores to heal.
9. Water helps you get more from your workout
When we exercise our body can lose a huge amount of fluids by sweating. In fact, in only an hour’s worth of exercise, our body can lose around a quarter of its water.
Without adequate water replacement, our body will lack energy, our muscles become fatigued and we can lose concentration.
During exercise, it is therefore beneficial to drink before, during and after a workout to prevent any decline in performance.
10. Water can help boost energy level
Caffeine and sugary drinks are often the first points of call when feeling tired, however, this energy boost can often be short-lived. By swapping these unhealthy drinks for water you can stop the body from becoming dehydrated which can lead to fatigue.
Research also shows that water may also boost metabolism which is linked to having a positive impact on energy levels.
Water is extremely important in maintaining good health. Without it, our body can become dehydrated leading to numerous health complaints. Some of these may be temporary, however, more serious conditions can develop if serious dehydration is not recognised quickly.
Drinking more water is not only beneficial to our health, but it can also reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and give us a better complexion and more energy.
So how much water do you drink? Is it enough? Why not challenge yourself to drink more water each day and see how much healthier you feel after a month or so? Yes, you may need to take a few more trips to the bathroom but isn’t that a small price to pay for feeling more energised, focused and healthier?
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