From the stuff we drink and swim in, to the steam that eases congestion and the ice that reduces swelling, water is all around us (and even in us). Heck, it kind of is us. “Water makes up about two thirds of who we are, and influences 100 percent of the processes in our body,” says CamelBak hydration expert Doug Casa, PhD. That probably explains why we feel better when we’re drinking enough of it. To learn exactly how water is helping us, as well as some creative ways to use it, check out these 10 reasons why you should go hydrate right now.
1. It could aid weight loss.
Anyone looking to lose weight could be helped by upping their water intake. Studies have found that when participants drink water before a meal, they lose weight faster than those who did not drink water. Extra H2O helps us eat less by making us feel full, and it may also boost metabolism. CamelBak hydration advisor Kate Geagan, RD says it’s not uncommon to put on weight by mistaking thirst for hunger, and she offers this pro tip: Next time you feel fatigued or sluggish, “drinking water may be just what [you] need to perk up.”
2. It powers our warm-weather exercise.
With the proper precautions, working out in the heat is usually fine—and staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do. The hotter the workout, the sweatier we tend to get, so it’s extra important to replace those lost fluids. Determining sweat rate informs good rehydration strategy: “Once an athlete [knows his or her] sweat rate, they can begin to practice replacing these fluid losses in training and be optimally prepared for [athletic exertion],” says Casa.
3. It keeps things moving, digestion-wise.
Water helps us, you know, go by helping dissolve fats and soluble fiber. Drinking enough water prevents constipation and also reduces the burden on the kidneys and liver by helping to flush waste products. Geagan breaks it down: “In the large intestine, water binds with fiber to increase the bulk of the stools, reduce transit time and make elimination easier. When you don’t drink enough water and fluids, the colon pulls water from stools, increasing your risk of constipation.”
4. It helps endurance athletes fight fatigue.
Water is an integral part of most any workout, and it becomes especially important in order to prevent dehydration during long workouts. When exercising for an hour or more, drinking water treated with carbohydrates and salts (by mixing in tablets such as Nuun, or making a DIY version) can help maintain fluid balance, which aids athletic performance and helps prevent post-exercise fatigue and exhaustion.
5. It might protect against some types of cancer.
Research has found that the greater the fluid intake, the lower the incidence of bladder cancer, with more significant results when the fluid is water. One possible reason could be that urinating more frequently prevents the buildup of bladder carcinogens. Staying hydrated may also reduce the risk of colon cancer and breast cancer.
6. It can improve mood.
Drinking water makes us feel so refreshed that it actually improves our state of mind. You don’t even have to be severely in need of it to benefit: Even mild dehydration has been shown to negatively impact moods.
7. Fun, frozen workouts are great for you.
When it’s too snowy or icy to go for a run, or you want a workout that’s as fun as it is good for you, find yourself some frozen water. Try ice skating for a low-impact workout that challenges your balance, get in some hill-work while sledding, get a full-body workout while cross-country skiing, or improve your cardiovascular endurance with snow-shoeing.
8. Drinking it may help prevent headaches, naturally.
Going without water for too long causes headaches for some people, and has been identified as a migraine trigger . The good news is that 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) . Geagan says a good way to prevent headaches is to stay hydrated throughout the day. And if you’ve already been hit with a dehydration-triggered headache, you’ll need significantly more water to help it go away. She recommends drinking two to four cups of water for headache relief within one to two hours.
9. It keeps our kidneys working.
Kidneys remove waste from our bodies, help control our blood pressure, and balance fluids, so they’re crucial to keeping our systems running smoothly. One surefire way to keep them working properly? Adequate water consumption! So drink up to keep those kidneys in tip-top shape.
10. It energizes us.
Next time you’re feeling zonked, try drinking a couple glasses of water. Feeling tired is one of the first signs of dehydration and filling back up on H2O could zap the sleepiness.
[via LinkedIn Steve Rapoport]