It seems kinda funny to write about the health benefits of staying hydrated, because that sounds similar to writing about the benefits of breathing. Since the benefits are that your body will be operating as it is intended when you are fully hydrated, there isn’t much benefit on top of that.
However, dehydration is so overlooked that most people will see noticeable benefits to being properly hydrated because they don’t even realize that they are dehydrated. I know I’ve personally been guilty of this too many times and it’s something I’ve had to work on for myself – which is why I’m sharing it with you.
Health Benefits of Drinking Water
Since our bodies are comprised mostly of water, it goes without saying that there are many benefits to drinking enough water. However, there are many issues people deal with that they aren’t aware could be solved by simply being hydrated.
If any of these areas stick out to you, the solution might be as simple as just drinking more water.
Water Makes Your Skin Healthy
Water keeps your skin moisturized, fresh and clear. It also keeps your skin smooth by preventing wrinkles.
When I was younger, I would use chapstick several times a day throughout the winter. Once I started drinking more water, I found that my lips didn’t get chapped anymore.
Water Keeps Your Digestive System Healthy
Water improves the digestive process. There’s a debate about when the best time to consume water around meals is. I personally eat all of my food and then drink water after each meal. However, I started that habit to be able to eat more food with each meal before I knew there was a possible digestive benefit.
Water is vital to keeping the urinary tract clean and to prevent constipation.
So if you want to have a healthy metabolism and keep the pipes clean – drink your water!
Water Cures Most Headaches
The most common headaches are a result of being dehydrated. If you are constantly getting light headaches and back aches, there’s a good chance you aren’t drinking enough water.
Water Flushes Toxins From Your Body
When you’re dehydrated you urinate less frequently and in less amounts. This can lead to a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and kidney stones. We need to sweat and urinate to keep are system flushed of toxins. Another great way to flush toxins is through epsom salt baths.
Water Improves Brain Function
I’ve talked a lot about cognitive enhancement, but did you know that water is also a cognitive enhancer? Well, not really in my opinion. It allows your brain to function as well as it should. Water oxygenates your blood which improves memory and allows your brain to function quicker.
Water Improves the Immune System
Water improves your immune system through several functions – by aiding digestion, oxygenating blood, flushing toxins and increasing the production of lymph.
I don’t want to jinx myself, but I never get sick. I haven’t gotten anything other than a stuffy nose from allergens in several years now. I attribute this to 3 key components of the lifestyle I promote – eating micronutrient-dense food, cold showers, and staying hydrated.
Importance of Hydration for Sports Performance
Hydrating before and during exercise is a necessity to perform at your best.
For anyone dehydrated, a tall cup of water (16-20 oz) will do much more than any preworkout on the market to help you perform better in the gym. Try it out for yourself.
Let’s look at how water benefits sports performance.
We need water to lubricate our joints. Actually, our joints are lubricated by Synovial fluid that contains water. If you’re young, joint health is probably the last thing on your mind, but injury prevention is way easier than injury rehabilitation. You’re going to have to make a habit of taking care of your joints one day, might as well start now.
Hydration Reduces Fatigue
Water is required for all energy transactions. Being dehydrated will make you lethargic and decrease your strength and stamina dramatically. This is one of the reasons I say you should drink a tall cup of water before going to the gym.
Water Helps With Weight Loss
Water increases your body’s ability to metabolize stored fat and it decreases fat deposits.
Also, water can help decrease appetite – which comes in handy when you are in a caloric deficit. Many people will find that drinking 16 oz or so of water before each meal will allow them to feel full with less food, thus helping them lose weight.
Hydration Reduces Water Retention
Drinking more water helps you retain less water? Yes.
When you are dehydrated, your body wants to store every last drop as a survival mechanism. That leads to bloating and swollen extremities (hands and feet) from excess water being stored outside of the cells. When you are properly hydrated, your body knows you don’t need to store that excess water and flushes the water that isn’t stored in your cells (more frequent urination).
Water Helps Build Muscle
Water helps form the structures of glycogen and protein, both of which are essential for muscle building. Water also indirectly aids muscle building because you can workout harder and longer when you are hydrated.
Signs of Dehydration
It’s obvious when we’ve become severely dehydrated. We feel sick, we are incredibly thirsty and our mouth resembles the Sahara. However, many people are chronically dehydrated and don’t even realize it.
Here are some signs that you are dehydrated:
- Bright or dark colored urine
- Chapped lips
- Muscle cramps when exercising
- Fatigue or apathy
- Sunken eyes
- Decrease in strength or stamina
The best way to deal with dehydration is to prevent it altogether.
Tips for Avoiding Dehydration
You already know that to avoid dehydration you simply need to drink more water, but I’m going to share some tips anyways. Here are some things that have helped me stay on top of my hydration.
Drink Water Around Your Sleeping Fast
When you are sleeping, you are fasting (no food or water) all night. That’s hopefully 6-8 hours of the day that you aren’t drinking water, but you are still losing water through breathing and a little bit of sweating. When we wake up, we are starting the day off very dehydrated.
I do 2 things to combat this:
- Drink a tall cup of water (12-16 oz) right before bed. I have found that if I do this immediately before bed, instead of 30-45 minutes before bed, I can make it through the night without having to wake up to pee. When I do this I wake up less dehydrated. I can tell because my urine is clearer on mornings after doing this than when I don’t.
- I drink a tall cup of water immediately upon waking, after going to the bathroom. This not only helps jump start the hydration, but I’ve found it helps my body wake up too. Then I’ll have another tall cup of water within the first hour of being awake.
When I do these 2 things, it is much easier to stay hydrated throughout the day. When I don’t, I feel like I’m playing catch-up all day long.
Extra Water When Consuming Caffeine/Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which means they cause your body to excrete more water. So I typically follow each cup of coffee with about 8 oz of water. (I don’t measure my water intake, I’m just guessing to give you an idea of what amounts I am referring to)
Same goes with alcohol. A small glass of water in between each drink or two will go a long way for keeping you hydrated and preventing a hangover.
Hydration in the Heat
In the warmer months, it’s harder to stay hydrated. We often don’t realize just how much more we are sweating.
If you’re going to be in any hot environment – whether that’s outside in the Texas sun or inside at a music festival – it makes a big difference to drink extra water BEFORE going into that environment.
Hydration During Exercise
For some reason some people have been told that drinking water slows you down and that simply isn’t true. Now you don’t want to chug a huge jug of water before working out, because you will feel very full.
But drinking some water before and during will help you push through your workout and not be as dehydrated afterwards.
I know, hydration isn’t the most exciting topic – but that’s part of the reason that it gets overlooked too much. There’s a chance that you aren’t drinking enough water and you don’t even know it. I would encourage you to simply add 1 tall glass of water to your morning routine and 1 tall glass before your workouts and see what difference it makes. You would be surprised what a little water can do for you.
Until Next Time,
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What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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