6 Most Important Health Benefits of Drinking Water
Water is an indispensable liquid, necessary for human survival. Almost 2/3 of your body is made of water. It helps in maintaining fluid balance, regulates body temperature, triggers enzyme secretion for digestion as well as removes toxins through your kidneys.
Being termed as a ‘universal solvent’, water can dissolve more substances than any other fluid. It helps your cells in absorbing vitamins and minerals from the food you consume.
Every day some amount of this water is lost during breathing, perspiring and while passing urine and stools.
It becomes necessary to replenish your body fluids to help organs function smoothly. The best way to find out if you are having enough water is to check the color of your urine. Colourless or pale yellow urine means you have sufficient water in your body, while dark yellow urine indicates low water levels. We use this trick with the children all the time, so they can also monitor their own water intake.
The Ideal intake of water according to the Institute of Medicine is 3 liters (13 cups) for men and 2.2 liters (9 cups) for women. However, this intake also depends on your age and health, physical activity and the type of climate you live in. Only a guide, as always.
Here are the top health benefits of drinking water:
- Keeps up your energy levels
Hitting the gym every day or in fact, any kind of physical activity results in reducing the water levels in your body. Even minor dehydration can affect your body and brain functions. According to a study conducted in 2007 by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, a decrease in performance levels was observed in athletes even with mild dehydration, which worsened with the more fluid loss.
When the muscles are not supplied with enough fluid, they tend to get tired causing muscle cramps or excessive fatigue. Though water alone cannot give you energy as it does not have any calories, it can aid in converting food into energy. Also, consuming water containing electrolytes can help regain the fluid balance and boost your energy levels.
- Treats headaches and hangovers
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of headaches or migraines. Since your brain comprises 80% water, a loss of body fluids results in brain pulling away from the skull which in turn causes pain. Consuming a small amount of water at frequent intervals can help in relieving headache within an hour.
According to a study conducted in 2004 at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK, patients who consumed 200-1500 ml of water experienced total relief from headaches within 30 minutes.
Similarly, hangovers are caused due to dehydration from the consumption of alcohol. Being a diuretic in nature, alcohol causes you to lose water through frequent urination, resulting in fatigue and headaches. It is advisable to keep sipping water between drinks to avoid unpleasant headaches and dizziness the next morning.
- Maintains bowel movement
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders. It involves infrequent bowel movement or difficulty in passing stools. When your body is low on fluids, the colon absorbs water from the stool which results in constipation. Having high fiber food and drinking an adequate amount of water help to keep the colon healthy by flushing out toxic waste.
- Aids in weight loss
Having a glass of water before meals makes you feel full and as a result, you eat less. Sometimes your brain also confuses thirst with hunger and you end up consuming extra calories. Studies suggest that drinking cold water is even better when you are trying to lose weight since your body consumes more calories to warm up the water to body temperature. Also, since water helps maintain the energy levels, you tend to work out more at the gym and burn more fat.
According to a study published in 2010 in a research journal – ‘Obesity’, the group on a low-calorie diet along with 500 ml of water before each meal lost 2 kg more weight compared to the group on a low-calorie diet without water. Additionally, the group consuming water had 44% more decline in weight over a period of 12 weeks.
- Flushes out toxins
Your kidneys help to filter out toxins from the body by receiving water-soluble compounds from the liver and expelling them through the urine. They also maintain the fluid balance by getting rid of excess water.
Not consuming enough water deters proper functioning of your kidneys and increases the chances of kidney stones and UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections). More water ensures more urine formation, which helps in reducing the concentration of stone-forming minerals in your body.
- Protects Joints and Cartilages
When your body is dehydrated, water is channelled to the brain and key organs from other less important parts. As a result, your body absorbs water from the articular cartilages which are made of 80% water. Since cartilages do not have any blood vessels, they cannot repair themselves resulting in painful and stiff joints.
Consuming adequate water everyday ensures the cartilages remain smooth and wear-resistant and do not cause friction in joints.
To get you kick-started, here are some quick tips for drinking more water:
- Always carry a bottle of water in your bag when going out.
- If you find it difficult to consume plain water, infuse it overnight in the fridge with some lime, mint and cucumber. You can also infuse it with fruits like strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, etc.
- Try to consume a glass of water or a low-calorie beverage of your choice with every meal.
- You can download apps like Carbodroid or Daily Water Free on your phones to set reminders and keep a track of your water consumption.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables as they are rich in water and essential nutrients.