Hydration, hydration, hydration – the importance of water!
Water is essential to life. Our bodies are made up of around 60% water so if we don’t keep this topped up, we run the risk of dehydration and illness. You literally cannot survive without water.
Your body loses water regularly, through excreting it as waste but also through breathing, sweating and digestion. This is why it’s so important to remain hydrated by drinking plenty of water each day.
The many benefits of drinking water
The most obvious and direct benefit of drinking water is that we won’t feel thirsty, which anyone who has been desperate for a drink on a hot summer’s day will know is a highly unpleasant feeling! There are plenty of other benefits of drinking water though, with water affecting our appearance, as well as our physical health and mental wellbeing.
Water helps with weight management
Water is totally free from calories and can help keep you feeling full, but its benefits extend beyond this. When consumed before meals, it’s been shown that water may actually help to supress your appetite, as well as help you burn more of the calories you consume.1 The other great thing about water is that drinking it can increase the calories you burn, without you having to do anything else differently!1 Studies have shown that drinking around half a litre of water can result in an extra 23 calories being burned, which might not sound like a lot, but equates to around 17,000 extra calories a year – or more than 2kg (4.4 lbs) of fat!
Water aids digestion
Water helps to break down food, keeps it moving smoothly through our digestive tracts and helps our bodies to absorb all the important minerals and other nutrients we need to stay healthy. As water moves through your stomach and intestines, it stops fibre becoming ‘stuck’, softening stool, reducing constipation and helping us to eliminate waste. The timing of when you drink water also has an effect though – drinking before a meal is best, as if you drink too soon after eating you could dilute the digestive juices that help you absorb nutrients.
Water keeps our joints healthy
The importance of water extends to our joints too. Water helps to protect our tissues, joints and spinal cord by maintaining the correct levels of hydration around sensitive areas that are prone to drying out, like your nose and eyes. It also protects the blood, bones and brain, and acts as a cushion for our joints to reduce shock and limit our chances of injury.2
Water keeps your skin in great condition
As numerous studies have shown, water is great for your skin!3 When it comes to your complexion, the importance of hydrating from the inside cannot be stressed enough. Rashes, blemishes and inflammation are caused by toxins and the best way to get rid of them, is to flush them out. How do you do that? With water. On top of this, water also helps to transport oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells to reduce premature aging, so even if you consider yourself totally toxin-free you should still be guzzling at least the recommended 8 glasses of water each day.
How much water should we be drinking?
The benefits of drinking water are clear, which is why charities like the Lifeplus Foundation have been established to help solve water shortage issues in developing countries across the world. It’s commonly said that we should all be consuming around 8 glasses of water a day, but while this is a good guideline, the truth is that no one really knows where this figure came from. Furthermore, some people may need far more or far less water than others. If, for example, you were to take part in intense exercise, you would sweat more, as well as lose more water through respiration, in which case you would need more than someone who is sat in front of a computer. Similarly, those living in warm climates are going to need to take on board more water than those in cooler climates.
The important thing is to consider your needs as an individual. Watch out for signs of dehydration, such as headaches and fatigue, or difficulty concentrating. Remember too that your water can come in different forms, so if you are not a fan of plain water, try adding a dash of squash. Tea, coffee and water in foods – particularly fruits and vegetables – all count too. As a good rule of thumb, you should always drink water when you’re thirsty, and drink enough to quench your thirst.