If you read a lot of health articles online, you have no doubt come across a health tip telling you to drink more water to improve your health. Maybe you are even sick and tired of reading this everywhere? But there is a good reason why everyone is telling you to drink more water.
If you are wondering why drinking enough water is important for health and what the benefits of hydration are, this article will explain it all. Not only that but here you will also get some good tips on how to drink more water every day. But let’s get started with some facts first…
Some facts about water and the human body needs:
- Water makes up between 50% and 70% of the human body and is an essential constituent of blood, lymph, digestive juices, urine and perspiration (1)
- The human body needs 3 pints (1.70L) of clean, pure water a day to function properly.
- An adult loses approximately 2.7 pints of water daily as waste excreted through the skin, lungs, kidneys and digestive system.
- 14% of the fluid is made by the body when it’s working on our behalf and the rest must be taken in daily (from drinks & food).
- Drinking often and little is better for your body as water is able to soak into tissues to help dissolve and excrete waste products.
Why is it so important to drink enough water?
There are hundreds of reasons to why it’s so important to keep hydrated. First of all, you have to understand the adverse effects of dehydration – some of these effects are short-lived and can easily be resolved by drinking more but some other effects occur when your body is constantly dehydrated and those effects can be quite serious.
Here are some of the short-term and long-term side effects dehydration can lead to:
- Insomnia and tiredness
- Heart problems
- High cholesterol
In addition to the above, dehydration could make you feel anxious and confused and you may even faint if dehydration is severe.
To understand the importance of hydration better, let’s look at (in detail) how drinking enough water helps us stay healthy and what it can do for our body.
What does water do for the body?
Staying hydrated improves your concentration and focus
When you are dehydrated you’ll stop being able to think clearly and it will be more difficult for you to concentrate.
To stay focused and concentrated, drink water throughout the day.
Drinking enough water helps fight cholesterol
When we are dehydrated, your body produces cholesterol, which surrounds the cells to protect the fluids within them. In the long term, this can damage general health.
When you drink enough water, this encourages the fibre in food to swell and stimulates the liver to produce HDL (‘good’ cholesterol), while lowering the rate at which the body absorbs fat. (2)
Drinking enough water helps you lose weight
If you are trying to lose weight, drinking enough water should be a big part of your weight loss strategy.
It’s recommended (3) to drink around 16 ounces (454 ml) of water half an hour before meal times to prevent over-eating and to reduce the number of calories you consume.
Water suppresses the appetite naturally and helps the body metabolise stored fat, actually reducing fat deposits.
Dehydration has a negative effect on weight loss as it can slow down metabolism (it sends the body into starvation mode and holds onto fat cells that contain high levels of fluids). So drink up to keep your metabolism rate high.
Hydration improves your exercise performance and helps maintain muscle tone
Keeping hydrated during exercise gives you the energy to keep going, prevents fatigue and muscle cramps.
Drinking the right amount of water also helps maintain muscle tone by giving muscles their natural ability to contract, so making sure you don’t get dehydrated helps you tone up and strengthen up, too.
Making sure you stay hydrated during the exercise also plays a role in injury prevention. If you get dehydrated this can affect your performance which can essentially increase the risk of injury. Have a bottle of water always with you and take regular sips while exercising.
Staying hydrated is important for your heart health
According to the American Heart Association, “keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles”.
John Batson, M.D, said: “If you’re well hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard.” (4) This makes total sense so don’t neglect this very important aspect of your health and make hydration a priority in your day.
Drinking water improves your liver health
Drinking enough water also benefits your liver as it helps the liver flush out the toxins.
The best times to drink water (5) to support your liver are:
- As soon as you wake up
- Before meal times
- Before and after you exercise
- Before bed
Staying hydrated keeps your kidneys healthy and prevents kidney stones
It’s really important to drink enough liquid for your kidneys function properly.
Water helps the kidneys remove wastes from your blood in the form of urine. Water also helps keep your blood vessels open so that blood can travel freely to your kidneys, and deliver essential nutrients to them.
When dehydrated, the function of kidneys is reduced and the removal of toxic waste is not as efficient. In fact, severe dehydration can lead to kidney damage and being frequently dehydrated can lead to kidney stones. When you regularly drink water, kidney stones are less likely to form.
How to drink more water – Top Tips
Don’t wait until you are thirsty
When you are thirsty, it’s too late, you are already dehydrated. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Aim to drink little and often throughout the day so you never get to the stage where you feel thirsty.
Keep a glass of water on your desk
When you are busy working it’s very easy to forget to drink unless you are reminded somehow. Always keeping a glass of water on your desk will be a constant reminder for you to drink more throughout the day. Make sure you make use of office water coolers (if they are available to you at your work) which will provide you with cleaner and purer water.
Eat water-rich foods
If you find drinking water regularly throughout the day difficult, try and also include in your diet fruits and vegetables which contain high levels of water, for example, watermelon, tomatoes, grapefruit and even apples.
Drink water before you work out
To prevent getting dehydrated during your workout session, drink 1-2 glasses of water before you start your workout. This is especially important when exercising in hot or humid conditions.
Check the colour of your urine
If you are not sure whether you are drinking enough, check your urine. What is its colour? Dark yellow or pale? It should be a light colour (a pale straw colour) and if it’s dark it’s time for you to drink more.
Drink water the first thing in the morning
Start your day by drinking water the first thing in the morning to make it easier for you to meet the recommended guidelines. Instead of plain water, you can simply have warm water with some lemon juice in it. Or, alternatively, you can have fruit water.
If you are really bad at remembering to drink water throughout the day, then set some reminders. You can do this in various different ways, for example, you could set reminders directly on Google, just google “water drink reminder” and it will appear on top.
You can also install the Water Drink Reminder app on your phone which is one of the best water drinking apps out there. Or you can even wear a gadget such as Healbe GoBe2 to get reminded throughout the day with a short message and vibration on your wrist.
Use a reusable water bottle
When on the go, it can be a challenge to drink regularly so for this reason, always take a reusable water bottle with you anywhere you go. Try not to use plastic bottles to avoid BPA and other potentially harmful chemicals.
Drinking enough water is more important than many people realise so don’t neglect this very important aspect of your health. See whether you can follow any of the tips mentioned in this post and notice the difference it makes to your health and wellbeing.
(1) Foster, K. (2016) The Answer to Cancer – An Electron Deficit Condition. Milton Keynes: SAGAX Publishing.
(2) Floyd, E. (2006) 1001 Little Health Miracles. 2006. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited.