“Water is the driving force of all nature.” — Leonardo da Vinci
“Drink more water!” We have all heard that water is good for us. But do you know why? Knowing why doing something is important can be a key motivator in helping us to do more of it. Turns out water is not only vital to our bodily functions and overall health, it is also an important component for our outward appearance and a valuable tool for weight management.
Water consumption impacts our digestive system by helping to break down food so that our bodies can absorb nutrients. It also helps prevent constipation and aids the liver and kidneys in flushing out toxins and waste products. Water helps to carry oxygen and nutrients to our cells. Water also protects our organs and lubricates our joints. Our body temperature and hormone production is also regulated, in part, by having adequate water in our body. Perhaps surprisingly, our brain also needs hydration in order to function properly.
Even with just touching on some of the main ways that hydration affects the human body, it’s easy to see how important water consumption is!
Our skin is the largest organ in our body. Its main function is to protect us from germs and infections, but it is also a key component in our overall appearance. We all want that youthful, healthy glow. But our skin is also an organ that is subject to outside elements – sun, dry air, pollution, and irritants, just to name a few. Like every other organ in our body, our skin depends on adequate hydration to be healthy. Drinking enough water each day can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, flush toxins from the body, and support skin cell regeneration. All of these things can help our skin look its best.
Many of us spend a great deal of money on hair care products but one of the best and least expensive things we can do for our hair is to drink more water! Much like the skin on the rest of our body, our scalp also benefits significantly when we drink an adequate amount of water each day. Hair grows out of little pockets in our scalp, called follicles. Hair begins growing from the root at the bottom of the follicle and it pushes up through the skin of the scalp. Blood vessels in our scalp feed the root. Good blood flow and a healthy scalp aid in hair growth.
Pretty much every weight loss plan on the planet advises us to drink more water. It is also advisable to drink plenty of water when taking dietary supplements designed to help you lose weight. Here are a few interesting
Today, most of us have food and drinks readily available 24 hours a day. There are fast food drive thrus, vending machines, 24 hour grocery stores, and food delivery services available not just in urban but in many rural areas as well. The food we purchase is conveniently portioned and packaged for our on-the go lifestyles. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with these conveniences, it may mean that we are out of practice in listening to our bodies’ cues for true thirst and hunger. Many of us eat before we are technically hungry. Sometimes we eat of boredom. Sometimes we eat out of social obligation because everyone else is. And, sometimes we eat because it just tastes good! We no longer eat and drink primarily for survival and as a result we may disregard and confuse our body’s signals that allow us to differentiate thirst from hunger. When we think we feel hungry if we are more mindful and reach for a glass of water first, we can not only hydrate ourselves, we may be able to avoid consuming unneeded calories
An average adult’s stomach can comfortably hold up to about a quart of food and water at any one time. But the stomach can also change size and shape by stretching to accommodate up to about 4 quarts of food. The release of a hormone called ghrelin triggers hunger. As we eat, nerve endings send signals to our brain as our stomachs stretch. As a result, the amount of ghrelin being released decreases to as part of our body’s recognition of satiety. Together these two processes tell our brain that we can stop eating. But it can take about 20 minutes for our brain to register the message. Studies show that by drinking a glass of water before a meal we begin to take up some of the real estate in our stomachs and we, therefore, tend to consume less food. By consuming less food, we can better manage our weight and even lose weight!
As we have already discussed, water is essential to our body systems working properly, including our digestive system. Water helps our entire digestive system break down the food we eat so that its vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can be better absorbed by the body. Everyone would agree that the more nutrients we absorb, the healthier we can be. We look better and we feel better. Another way in which water helps us look and feel better is by its ability to soften stool and make bowel movements easier and more productive. Effectively eliminating waste and toxins helps to improve our skin’s health and appearance. It also helps flatten our stomach and shrink our waistline.
Most of us would benefit from drinking more water daily but it be hard to keep track of how much we are actually consuming versus how much we THINK we’re consuming. That’s where tracking comes in. There are many possible ways to keep track. Some people keep it super simple by writing tally marks on a piece of paper each time they finish a glass. Some people set aside a certain amount of water and keep going until the pitcher or jug is empty. There are actually water bottles on the market that have fun themes and sayings written on them to read as the water line gets lower and lower on the bottle. Another method that works well for a lot of people are water tracking applications for smart phones. Many people benefit from using tracking apps. There are a variety of features available on different apps but many have the capability to recommend a water consumption goal or you can set your own goal amounts. There are also built-in reminders and alarms to prompt you to drink water throughout the day. There are a tons of these apps available on Google Play and the iPhone Store. Quite a few are well reviewed and many are free!
Start slowly, especially if you’ve determined you’re going to be making a substantial jump to get to your goal consumption each day. By increasing the amount of water you drink in increments, you will have the opportunity to build new habits and will thereby increase your chances for long term changes to your lifestyle. Also, we’ve all been really thirsty and chugged a big glass of water only to feel bloated after wards. By steadily increasing your water intake of several days (or weeks) you’ll give your body time to adjust vs drinking large amounts of water in a shorter period of time. Additionally, our kidneys need time to process and remove the water we drink. The kidneys can remove up to about 33 ounces (1 liter) of water each hour. By drinking smaller amounts of water at a steady pace, we better support our kidney function as well as the required balance in our bloodstream needed to have healthy electrolyte levels.
In some areas of the world, water is safe and tasty right from the tap. But if you’re not in one of those areas, filtered water is recommended. Not a big fan of drinking plain water at all? Shake things up by adding ice or refrigerating the water beforehand. Add small amounts of fresh fruit or fruit juice for added vitamins and flavor. Another popular option is flavored sparkling water with no added sweeteners. Flavored water comes in bottles and cans and is available at most major supermarket chains.
Water is imperative to our health and well-being. Nearly every major system in our body depends on an adequate amount of water intake in order to function properly. Because the human body does not store water, the way it does fat for example, we need to replenish our body’s hydration daily. Between tracking methods for awareness and accountability, and all the ways we can add variety to our water, it is easier than ever to incorporate water into a healthy lifestyle. So…bottoms up!
“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” — Loren Eiseley