By Erin Ernest
As you begin to age, you may start to notice dryness to your skin, bags under your eyes, difficulty concentrating, and headaches creeping up when you don’t get enough of it. You see Americans crazed by health and fitness who carry around big jugs of it, making sure they get the daily required dosage into their body. After the New Year, you might see your coworker switching out their daily afternoon coffee or soda for it. We are talking about water, which could arguably be the most essential part of any living being’s diet.
Water comprises about 75% body weight in infants and 55% in the elderly; it is essential for cellular homeostasis and life. According to a study by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, humans can survive only four days without it.
The benefits of staying hydrated
Drinking plenty of water can aid your body in functioning at its highest capacity. Here are a few things that staying properly hydrated can do for your body.
It can improve physical activity
During exercise, your body uses a great deal of water. If you drink enough water before, during and after a workout, studies have found that it will reduce fatigue, improve endurance and lower your maximum heart rate.
It will help you lose weight
Increasing your water intake can help you if you are struggling with the “battle of the bulge.” Many studies show that people who are on diets achieve better results when they also increase their water intake.
It is a natural mood booster
People who drink more water tend to be happier! One study found that when people who regularly drank less than 1.2 liters of water per day doubled their intake to 2.5 liters, the participants experienced significantly less confusion, fatigue and sleepiness. On the other hand, for people who regularly drank two or more liters per day, and were then restricted to one liter per day, found negative effects to the lower intake, including decreased contentedness, calmness and positive emotions.
It boosts your brain power
Are you having difficulty concentrating? Pour yourself a nice, tall glass of ice cold H20. Studies suggest that even mild dehydration can impair cognitive function in the short-term. Alternatively, many studies show the correlation between the proper level of hydration and performing better during cognitive tasks.
It prevents headaches
Do you ever wake up in the morning with a pounding headache after a night of imbibing your favorite drink? Water deprivation is to blame, as dehydration is one of the most common causes of headaches. Even if you don’t overindulge in alcohol, studies have found that drinking enough water can prevent headaches, especially migraines.
It protects against diseases and other health problems
Drinking more water is an easy way to increase your overall health and wellness. Drinking enough water is a small choice and studies have found that can become a tool to protect yourself from heart disease, constipation, urinary infections, kidney stones and asthma. It may even help fend off some cancers.
Are you drinking enough?
Living in a developed nation with ample clean drinking water available, one would expect that the average American’s water intake is on par with the daily recommendations, but that isn’t the case. According to a study by the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, 50% of U.S children and teenagers do not drink enough water daily. The problem doesn’t vanish once adulthood sets in either. The National Hydration Council states that one in ten consultations for chronic fatigue can be attributed to dehydration.
It may seem as though the solution is simple: drink more water. But with so many differing opinions on the subject—from the best sources to get it from to how much you actually need to consume—it’s still difficult to know whether or not you are providing your body with the water it needs to function best.
Most articles indicate that eight glasses a day seems to be the magic number; however, this may be a myth that was founded by a 1945 study by the Food and Nutrition Board, for which rigorous proof is lacking. A more recent study conducted in 2008 by the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology further demonstrated no significant health benefit of sticking to the 8 x 8 rule (8 8-ounce glasses per day). It also needs to be taken into account that everyone’s needs are different due to climate, level of activity, age, temperature and intake of other beverages, so it’s impossible to come up with a concrete rule of how much we should drink.
A study by The National Academy of Sciences also notes that 22% of water intake of the average American comes through the consumption of food, which means that perhaps we don’t need to drink as much as we think we do. Water-based foods like broth and certain fruits and vegetables can greatly contribute towards one’s daily water intake.
Determine your proper hydration
How can you know exactly how much water you should drink? The Institute of Medicine provides us with a rough guideline of 91 ounces per day for an adult women and 125 ounces for an adult man.
The Institute also states that prolonged physical activity and heat exposure will increase water losses and raise your daily fluid needs. Reports vary greatly on how much athletes and those who regularly exercise should drink, as every individual has different needs and temperature and conditions play a large role in what this number should be. The American Council on Exercise recommends this basic guideline for drinking water before, during and after exercise.
- Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before you start your workout.
- Drink eight ounces of water 20-30 minutes before you start exercise or during your warm-up.
- Drink seven to ten ounces of water every 10-20 minutes during your workout.
- Drink eight ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you finish.
Knowing the benefits of drinking water and also having a general guideline for how much should consume, it is clear that simply making a decision to drink more water can benefit your health in a variety of ways.
Tips for being better hydrated
If you have difficulty drinking regular water, you can add cucumbers, mint or lemons to kick it up a notch. It’s also recommended to drink a glass before each meal to fend off overeating and help your body know when it is full so you don’t overindulge.
Jahmu is a great tasting way to stay hydrated. Simply add a teaspoon to hot or cold water and drink away!