We hear it all the time - water is important. You need to get enough of it, if you don't you are risking your health....but just how is drinking water good for you? What are the risks of not drinking enough water?
4 out of 10 people don't drink enough water in a day.
Sure, we consume a ton of coffee, energy drinks, juices, and soda, and make no mistake, you are getting some of your daily water needs from these sources - but why is it so hard to just down a nice cool glass of water when we are thirsty?
Maybe it's because a lot of us don't really have all the knowledge behind why drinking water is so important, or don't understand the consequences of long term dehydration.
Whatever the reason, if you want to start getting healthier, it's as simple as going to the tap and getting your fill.
Water is good for us in so many ways. It's in our cells, our blood, our brains; even our bones are up to 30% water!
Let's look at the downsides of not drinking enough water.
Dehydration is what happens to your body when you don't get enough water. Water is vital to your body and plays a crucial role in not just how it functions, but how well it functions.
Water makes up some 60% of our bodies. It powers our muscles, tissues, regulates our temperature through sweating and respiration, helps digest our food, and keeps us running as a whole.
Water is the single most important thing you can take in to ensure the health of your body. Food? Nah, you can go weeks without the stuff. Water? Give it 3-4 days with none and you, my friend, are outta here.
Here are some of the things that happen to your body when you don't get enough, and your body starts to get dehydrated.
Did you know?
The average person loses approximately 1 cup of water every single day, just from breathing.
Low Or High Blood Pressure
Depending on the route your body decides to take, dehydration can cause either low or high blood pressure.
When you're not getting the required amount of water in you, it can lead to a decrease in blood volume, which in turn can cause your blood pressure to plummet.
Blood volume is the amount of the red stuff we having flowing around in our bodies at any
Alternatively, a low blood volume can cause the sodium levels in your body to increase, in turn triggering the release of a hormone called vasopressin.
Vasopressin causes your blood vessels to contract, which raises your blood pressure. Depending on just how dehydrated you are, both of these can be very serious.
When we don't drink enough water and our blood pressure drops, this can lead to the brain not getting enough oxygen to function properly.
Both of these can cause dizziness and lightheadedness, especially when first standing up.
Your kidneys are super important in terms of how your body functions. They help to filter out the toxins and wastes in your body, filtering on average 200 quarts of blood each day.
They also help to keep your blood pressure in check, so when you become dehydrated they are working overtime. Not only to correct the high or low blood pressure you may be experiencing, but due to a build up of wastes and acids within.
Chronic dehydration can also lead to kidney stones, as well as more frequent urinary tract infections. Leaving these issues without treatment for too long can mean permanent kidney damage, something you definitely do not want to happen.
Even relatively mild dehydration, if it occurs often enough, or is let go for long enough, can cause you lifelong problems with your kidneys.
There are multiple ways in which dehydration affects the skin. Your skin is your body's largest organ, providing a barrier from outside elements.
- Dryness/flaky skin
- Increased wrinkles and fine lines
- Sagging skin
- Dark circles around eyes, eyes appear sunken
- Loss of elasticity and plumpness
- Itchy skin
Not only is dehydration going to cause a whole slew of issues for your outer layer, it also makes it look dull, and in effect making you look tired all the time.
Our bodies may be about 60%, but your brain tops that at being 80% made up of water.
When you're dehydrated, your brain loses water and starts to shrink, and starts pulling away from your skull.
This can trigger the surrounding area's pain receptors and leave you with a headache. A loss in blood volume will cause the brain to get less blood and oxygen, which leads to inflammation which can worsen the effects.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is no joke. Picture a day in your life when you have felt the most tired and then imagine that you feel that way all the time. No thank you.
While it isn't caused exclusively by dehydration, it is believed to be a major contributing factor. Dealing with chronic fatigue can be absolutely debilitating at times, and can cause multiple points of your body to let you down, including:
- Muscle and joint pain and stiffness/weakness
- Brain fog
- Digestion issues
- Never ending exhaustion
Keeping the proper fluid levels in your body, along with crucial electrolytes, is incredibly important in order to avoid constantly feeling like you've been hit by a bus.
Now Let's Check Out The Benefits Of Drinking More Water
More Brain Power (Literally)
Better concentration and brain function just from water? Yes, it's a thing.
Water is good for your brain in a number of different ways just by increasing the blood flow and amount of oxygen it gets when you take more in.
It also helps to deliver vital nutrients to it, a lack of which can leave you feeling lethargic and foggy.
Here's some other ways water can help your brain:
- Reduces stress
- Maintains good memory function
- Increases concentration and productivity
- Increases energy
Can Aid In Weight Loss
If you're serious about losing weight, you need to get serious about drinking water.
Not only does this help to keep your body hydrated, it also helps to suppress your appetite, flushes out toxins from your body, and helps you not to retain water (this latter will have you feeling and looking bloated), but it also boosts your metabolism.
Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, and instead of reaching for the water bottle, we head to the snack cupboard instead, which is a big mistake.
Some tips on incorporating water into your weight loss journey:
Drink before you eat - Not just at meal times, but any time you're feeling hungry, go down a nice cold glass of H2O before you start munching. This will help you to determine if it's actually hunger you're experiencing, or if your body is really just crying out for water.
Drink it cold - Like ice cold. Studies have shown that it takes more effort from your body and it burns more calories when you ingest ice cold water instead of room temperature.
Plus, cold water is infinitely more refreshing. Investing in an ice maker can be a great way to make sure you always have the coldest water on hand. We love this one!
Make sure you're getting enough - The majority of times when a person commits to eating better and trying to lose weight, they incorporate some form of exercise, which can result in excess sweating and losing more water than they normally would.
Make sure that you are drinking a bit extra to compensate if you're going hard in the gym, or at home.
Boosts Energy/Exercise Performance
Even a loss of 2% of the water in your body is enough to negatively impact your mental and physical performance, and it only gets worse from there.
Exercise can take a big toll on your body if you're not hydrating properly. Water helps to regulate your body temperature, keeps your muscles functioning properly, and keeps the blood volume in your body up.
Blood volume in this instance is very important, and plays a role in how much blood and oxygen your heart and other muscles are receiving when you work out.
Being dehydrated can also lead to an increased rate of glycogen breakdown. Glycogen is the broken down, stored form of glucose in your body. An increased rate of it means an increased level of acids, primarily lactic acid.
Lactic acid is responsible for that awful feeling in your muscles and tissues after you work out, namely being felt the day after. A high volume of it can contribute to skeletal muscle fatigue, and bring your performance way down.
Dehydration can raise the levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is commonly known as the stress hormone, and high levels of it can impact the body in a very negative way.
Even just being 1/2 a litre short has been shown to raise cortisol levels. How exactly does this make you feel?
- Problems sleeping
- Increased anxiety
Not only does it have all of these effects on the body, increased cortisol has been linked to weight gain.
Even being stressed out in the first place can cause you to become dehydrated, as your body temperature is up, and you're breathing more heavily. This all contributes, so if you're looking to de-stress, start sipping.
Improves Memory And Mood
The correlation between proper hydration(or a lack of it), and your brain is well documented.
Take this study, for instance, performed with 20 women. The effects on mood, exhaustion levels, and confusion were significant.
"Being even slightly dehydrated is enough to cause moodiness, problems concentrating, headaches and fatigue"
Another study details how even just a slight loss of water in the body (1%), can cause detrimental mental effects. While the majority of studies are short term (a few days), there is new evidence showing that long term effects may persist even after adequate hydration is achieved.
Bottom line is, if you want to feel good and harness your brain's full potential, give it what it needs to get there.
It Could Help In The Bedroom
Drinking more water is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you're having physical problems in your sex life.
Dehydration can cause some troubling sexual issues in both men and women, and causes the stress levels in your body to skyrocket. More stress can lead to an imbalance in hormones like testosterone.
Here's just a few of the ways that you can benefit in the bedroom from more water.
Increased energy - Water is necessary for us to feel our best. If you're struggling in the energy department and feeling fatigued during the act, it's time to drink up.
Increased lubrication for women - Suffering from dryness down there? Not surprising if you're dehydrated. More water = more bodily fluids. This can ease dryness and discomfort.
Optimal blood flow for both men and women - This is important for both sexes, but even more so for men. Studies have shown that dehydration can have a huge impact on blood flow to the penis, which will in turn have a negative impact on your sexual activity. For women, drinking enough water can help you to orgasm more easily, by making sure every cell is hydrated and responsive.
Your sweat will smell better - Sweat stinks. It's just a fact of light. But when you're giving your body the water it needs every day, the levels of salt and other toxins are diluted somewhat, leaving your sweat smelling not quite so repulsive.
Get A Better Night's Sleep
While we know that drinking enough water daily is important to keep us feeling good, not nearly enough people are aware of how it affects our quality of sleep as well.
Dehydration can cause your nasal passages and throat to dry out while we are sleeping, and can become very uncomfortable and cause you to wake during the night.
Leg cramps are another thing to be aware of. A lack of water can bring them on at night and disrupt your sleep.
Another way that dehydration affects you in this regard is the higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. One of cortisol's main jobs is to control your flight or fight response, and your sleep-wake cycle.
Constant, elevated levels of cortisol disrupt your sleep big time.
Fun Fact - The less sleep you get, the more cortisol is produced in the body. It's a repeating cycle that can be very difficult to break, as sleep and cortisol are tied very closely together.
Keep in mind though, try and get your daily water intake in well before you go to bed. It's not going to help the situation much if you're getting up multiple times in the night to use the washroom!
How To Tell If You're Not Drinking Enough Water
The color of your urine is a great indicator of how well hydrated you are. Your urine should be a pale yellow color if you're getting enough water, and darker colored urine is a definite sign you need to drink more.
If you know for a fact that you're getting enough water and you still have dark urine, this can be a sign that you may have other health issues going on, and you should see a doctor about it.
Dry mouth and persistent bad breath are other signs that you're dehydrated. Water is necessary to flush away bacteria in the mouth and food that you eat.
When you don't get enough, bacteria sticks around and multiplies, and can cause a very unpleasant smell. It is also very uncomfortable to deal with dry mouth on a daily basis.
Your joints and muscles take a real hit from lack of water as well. Water is needed to properly lubricate these parts of your body, and a lack of such can make you ache all over.
A simple pinch test can also help you determine if you're not getting enough water, and can be performed at home.
Water is the main key to keeping your skin elasticized and supple. Pinch the skin into a "tent", and see how fast it goes back to its normal position (the back of the hand is a great place to perform this test).
If it snaps back right away, then you're likely getting enough. If it is slower in returning to normal, this means you need to up your intake.
Dehydration can cause premature aging and wrinkles, so make sure you drink up to prevent this.
How Much Water Do You Actually Need In A Day?
Think that 8 glasses of water a day is enough? Well, that may not be the case actually. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine say that an average of 2.7 litres for women (11.5 cups), and 3.7 litres for men (15.5), is needed for adequate hydration.
This doesn't all have to come from drinking water, however. Even the food that you eat counts for up to 20% of your daily liquid requirements.
How To Drink More Water
There are plenty of ways to start drinking more water, even if you're not a fan of just chugging it straight up.
Adding zero calorie flavourings to it like MIO can be a great way to spice it up if you don't fancy the plain taste. Other options include infusing your water with fruits and vegetables.
In the past few years this has become very popular, and companies now make water bottles specifically geared towards adding them in.
Water bottles in general are recommended, simply for the fact that you can carry them with you at all times, ensuring a constant flow of water intake.
Adding ice can help as well, as many people simply prefer it over lower temperatures.
So, How Is Drinking Water Good For You?
It just is. Science has shown us over and over again how important water is for you, and how a lack of it can be seriously detrimental to your health.
From your bones to your skin, brain, muscles, joints, organs, and sex life, there's no question about it - start drinking more water daily, and your overall general health will improve.
“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”― W. H. Auden