Water is essential for life. As a major constituent of the body, it has many vital functions. We all know that drinking water is amazing for our bodies, but why is it that 75% of the population are still dehydrated? I’ve recently started trying to drink more water so naturally I wanted to find out what good this extra fluid could do for me. As I was reading I thought why not share it to encourage more people to drink more water!
Studies have shown that dehydration can have a significant effect even if you lose as little as 2% of your body’s water content. This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, increased fatigue and make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally. So next time you’re feeling drained and exhausted you might want to try a simple trick, drinking a glass of water!
The truth is that water accounts for about 60% of your body weight. Your organs and all systems in your body need water in order to function properly. When you don’t drink enough water, all functions in your body will slow down and you will feel tired and irritable.
Studies show that even slight dehydration (1-3% of body weight) can impair many aspects of brain function. Researchers recorded the behaviour of 447 university students across and the types of drinks they brought into exams. The researchers related the marks attained by students in the exam to whether those students brought water into the exam. Importantly, they controlled for general ability using coursework marks to ensure that they were not simply assessing the possibility that more able students were more likely to bring water into the exam. The results showed that those who took water into the exam, and presumably consumed the water, did better in the exam than those who did not. Students who drank water could expect to see grades improved by up to 10%.
Since the skin is an organ, it’ll function better when its more hydrated. More water intake means better cell productivity, which in turn gives you healthier-looking skin. Water is also an important component of structures required for collagen production, one of the key building blocks of the skin that is lost during the aging process. Drinking water combats dry skin, flushing out toxins and bacteria. So preventing dehydration improves the appearance of skin giving a healthier and more youthful look. Hydrated skin looks plumper and livelier as opposed to dry or dehydrated skin, which can appear dull, flaky, and sallow.
In two studies, drinking half a litre of water was shown to increase metabolism by 24-30% for up to 1.5 hours. This means that drinking 2 litres of water every day can increase your total energy expenditure by up to 96 calories per day. The timing is important too, and drinking water half an hour before meals is the most effective. It can make you feel more full, so that you consume fewer calories. In one study, people who drank half a litre of water before meals lost 44% more weight than those who didn’t drink the water, over a period of 12 weeks. It is actually best to drink water cold, because then the body will use additional energy to heat the water to body temperature.
Drinking plenty of water helps keep you healthy in the long term. A surprising number of illnesses can be treated or prevented simply by drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day. They include:
- Arthritis and joint problems, since drinking water helps lubricate the joints.
- Depression, since without adequate amounts of water your brain can’t produce enough serotonin.
- Insomnia, since your brain needs water to produce melatonin.
- Leukaemia and lymphoma, since drinking plenty of water ensures that your body produces adequate amounts of blood cells and immune cells, and that they circulate appropriately.
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of headaches. When you become dehydrated your brain tissue loses water causing your brain to shrink and pull away from the skull. This triggers the pain receptors surrounding the brain, giving you a headache. Dehydration also causes your blood volume to drop which in turn lowers the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. In a study on the effects of water on headaches, participants experienced “total relief” from their headaches within 30 minutes of drinking water (two cups, on average). So next time you have a headache you might want to go for a glass before popping a pill!
It makes you happier! Water encourages the flow of nutrients and hormones around your body releasing endorphins which make you feel happier. Your body is likely to feel in better condition too and as a consequence you will not only look better but feel better too. Studies have shown that being just half a litre dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone. Staying in a good hydrated status can keep your stress levels down.