You’re doing all the right things. Eating healthy. Exercising regularly. Taking your supplements.
But are you getting enough water? Do you know the big benefits of water and how to maximize your nutrition? Essential to all life and comprising about 60% of your body, water has benefits that go far beyond keeping you hydrated. From improving exercise and skin health, to helping with weight loss and optimal brain and heart health, water has a number of impressive benefits. Read on to learn how something so simple can affect so many areas of your health, and how you can easily increase your water intake each day.
Benefits of Drinking Water
You’ve heard that you should drink it everyday to stay hydrated, but what are the benefits of drinking water? There are a number of scientifically-backed reasons why keeping hydrated is healthy for you.
Benefits of Water During Exercise
Your muscles are 80% water, so it’s no surprise that staying hydrated can help you perform your best and even help boost your physical performance. Particularly in high heat, losing just 2% of your body’s water through sweat can lead to dehydration.1 Exercise feeling extra difficult? You may be experiencing the effects of dehydration.2 In addition to making workouts feel extra challenging mentally and physically, losing water content via a sweatfest can cause you to feel more fatigued and less motivated.2 It can even contribute to oxidative stress,3 an imbalance of free radicals to antioxidants in the body. So, if you exercise and particularly if you engage in high intensity activity, make sure to keep plenty of water on-hand to avoid losing too much—and potentially your motivation too!
Benefits of Water for Skin
The biggest benefit of drinking water for skin health is keeping the skin hydrated. Dehydration, and its accompanying symptoms, can happen with as little as 1.5% loss in your body’s water,4 so it doesn’t take much to throw off your hydration, especially in hot weather. Dehydrated skin is dry skin, and dry skin is more likely to trigger oil production, leading to acne.5 Studies have shown that increasing water intake helped to improve the outer skin’s hydration, minimizing rough, dry skin in the process.6
Benefits of Water for Men and Women
While water’s benefits apply equally to both genders, women may become thirsty quicker than men, who have a greater body composition that contains more water (60 percent, compared with 55 percent in women).7 One study found that women’s concentration worsened during performance tests while mildly dehydrated.7 At the same time, women’s bodies take longer to heat up during exercise, which may help conserve water. Regardless, both men and women experience the same benefits from maintaining optimum hydration levels.
Benefits During Pregnancy
You need more than additional calories during pregnancy—you also need more water. From carrying nutrients and producing blood flow, to forming amniotic fluid and enhancing digestion, water is needed during all stages of pregnancy.8 Keeping yourself hydrated can provide a number of benefits, including:
- Softening skin
- Keeping body temperature at a comfortable level
- Greater energy
- Lowering the risk of urinary tract infections
- Lowering the risk of preterm labor and birth
Recommendations for water intake during pregnancy range from 8 to 12 cups a day.9
Benefits of Water for Digestion
If you’ve suffered from constipation, check to see that you’re getting enough water each day. Regardless of age, dehydration is considered a risk factor for developing constipation.10 Increasing water intake may help decrease symptoms, particularly water higher in magnesium and sodium.11
Water increases feelings of satiety, helping you to lose weight. In one study, women who drank additional water throughout the day before eating meals lost significant amounts of weight and fat after just eight weeks.12 If you’re looking to lose weight, research suggests that when you drink water, it can have an impact too. Several studies have found that drinking before eating can help you feel more full and eat less.13, 14 Aim for two cups about 30 minutes before eating your meals each day.
Benefits of Water for Heart and Brain Function
Your muscles aren’t the only parts of your body that benefit from staying hydrated. Drinking adequate amounts of water daily can have measurable impacts on heart and brain function as well. Sufficient water intake helps the heart not have to work as hard to pump blood through the blood vessels throughout the body.15 The brain is equally impacted by hydration—even mild hydration negatively affects brain function, with one study showing that women who lost fluid during exercise had increasingly poor concentration, greater irritability, and susceptibility to headaches,16 Men are equally impacted, with fluid loss causing greater anxiety, tiredness, and a weaker working memory.17 The takeaway? Even mild dehydration can lead you to feeling sluggish, with an impaired memory and greater difficulty performing mental functions. It can even bring down your mood, too!
Why Drink Filtered Water?
Knowing how much water you need each day begs the question; what kind of water should you be drinking? While tap water is a convenient option, quality can vary widely depending on where you live. The contaminants found in tap water can be considerable, ranging from Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) like salts and organic matter, to heavy metals Lead and Chromium, and harmful chemicals known as PFOA/PFOS. In many areas, chlorine and other chemicals used to purify tap water can also leave an unpleasant taste or smell. You’ll want a water filter device or system that filters PFOA/PFOS, TDS, Chlorine, heavy metals, and other contaminants. Plus, filtered water has a fresher and more clear taste.
Drinking Water Nutrition Facts
How much water should you drink each day? The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine advises:
- Men should drink about 15.5 cups of total fluids per day
- Women should drink about 11.5 cups of total fluids per day18
Does temperature matter? Somewhat. While some may advise against drinking cold water at all, there isn’t research that supports this. At the same time, warm water is a better choice if you have a chronic condition that affects digestion,19 or if you’re feeling under the weather with a cold or flu.20
Benefits of Water with Lemon
Lemon contains potassium and vitamin C, plus its acidity helps aid digestion, making it the perfect fruit to add to your water. For those who find the taste of plain water off-putting, lemon can help to increase flavor, improving the chances of hitting your daily water intake goals.
Are there benefits to drinking water with lemon first thing in the morning? According to Ayurvedic medicine, sour tastes stimulate “agni,” which powers digestion. Its citric acid levels may also help prevent kidney stones and combining with water can help flush out existing stones or prevent new ones from forming.
Benefits of Water Vs. Soda
The number of benefits found in drinking water are nearly equal to the negative effects of drinking soda. Sodas have been found to reduce calcium and other nutrient absorption, which can increase the risk of medical problems, such as diabetes.21 While sugar is known to have a negative impact on overall health, sugary drinks like sodas are among the worst offenders. They can cause weight gain and turn into fat in the liver, which contributes to fatty liver disease (the most common chronic liver illness in the United States22).
Benefits of Water Vs. Juice
While juice fares better than soda in its nutritive qualities, it hinges on the type of juice you’re drinking. Store-bought juices contain additives and other ingredients to extend shelf-life. Some even contain added sugar. Better by far are freshly made juices since ingredients are sourced from whole fruits and vegetables. Sugar quantity can also be controlled, with a greater reliance on veggies or low-sugar fruits, like green apples or lemons. Another benefit is that juicing can unlock the nutrients and antioxidants found in the juice of fruits and vegetables. And while juice, which contains more than 80% percent water, hydrates the body, the sugars can inhibit hydration. So while drinking a fresh juice can be a wonderful choice for getting nutrients or when feeling dehydrated, it shouldn’t completely or even partially replace the water in your life.
Tips to Increase Water Intake
Getting in 11+ cups of water a day requires a bit of planning and foresight. The following tips can help:
- Invest in a reliable water filter pitcher or dispenser for your home to always have great-tasting water on hand. You’ll want a filtration system that reduces PFOA/PFOS, Lead, Chromium and other contaminants. The ZeroWater® 5-Stage Filtration System removes virtually all total dissolved solids (TDS) from your tap water. One ZeroWater filter is the equivalent of 150 single-use plastic water bottles! Pro tip: Another great option is a faucet mount to get filtered water directly from your tap! Check out ExtremeLife™ by Zerowater too.
- Find a flavor that works for you. Fruit, veggies, and herbs can all be infused into your water to help increase palatability and taste. Besides lemon, you can play with adding different flavor combinations like strawberries and basil; melon, cucumber and mint; berries and oranges with ginger and blueberries, lemon and rosemary. Make a large infusion and sip throughout the day!
- Carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go. If you don’t have access to water, chances are you won’t be drinking it. Water bottles are one of the most affordable and convenient options for ensuring you are never without water, wherever you go.
- Add electrolytes. Your body needs the right balance of minerals for regulating pH levels, blood pressure, and to keep systems of the body running optimally. The three big players are magnesium, potassium, and sodium. While sugary electrolyte drinks have additives and a high glycemic score your body doesn’t really need, there are more natural options, including coconut water, which contains all three of the minerals your body needs. Coconut water can be added to regular water, or you can use a less-processed powder, which can often be found in different flavors to mix up your water’s flavor. There are also benefits of drinking water with sea salt since sea salt helps the body better absorb water and reduces fluid retention. Include it in your water either by itself or use it in an easy electrolyte mix with lemon and maple syrup.
- Make a protein shake. High quality protein can help your body build muscle, repair tissue, aid in weight loss, and more. And having a daily shake can help you meet your daily protein needs while meeting your daily water needs at the same time. Delicious tasting, with all nine essential amino acids, Clean Lean Protein by Nuzest is a convenient and nutritious way to help you increase your daily water intake.
- Drink at regular intervals. You can develop a habit of drinking water at specific times, like 30 minutes before exercising or first thing in the morning. Doing so will make remembering to drink water an easier, more automatic process.
- Essential to all life, water intake reduces oxidative stress, supports your heart and brain function, makes exercising easier, and more. Making water a part of your day, in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise regimen, can help you maximize your nutrition while keeping dehydration at bay, along with many other potential health benefits.