What Makes Water So Healthy?
Has it occurred to you today that you are thirsty? Guess what – by the time you experience the sensation of the thirst, you are already dehydrated. That thirst is your body calling for re-hydration.
Your body is composed of roughly 60% water. That means when we are dehydrated – and most of us spend our days constantly dehydrated to some degree – we are affecting the performance of the majority of our body. Nearly all of our systems do not function as well without the proper water intake.
What Happens If You Don’t Drink Enough Water?
You may feel the following symptoms if you are mildly or moderately dehydrated:
- Fatigue, tiredness or feeling sleepy all the time
- Increased thirst
- Low urine output that is more yellow in colour
- Dry mouth
- Digestive disturbances including constipation
- Headache or light-headedness
- Dry or flaky skin or dry hair
- Crying with not much tears
Long-term dehydration can lead to the following:
- Rapid heartbeat because the heart is trying to compensate for low blood volume.
- Shriveled inelastic skin. This is when you pinch your skin and it tents up and does not return to its normal appearance.
- Dry mouth and mucous membranes
- Extreme irritability
- Confusion or lethargy
- Severe dizziness that is felt when standing up from a reclining position.
- Low blood pressure or orthostatic hypotension, which often occurs when getting up from a lying or sitting position.
- Little or no urine. If ever there’s any, the colour is deep yellow or amber.
- Sunken eyes
- Rapid breathing
- Low grade fever
- Extreme shock that can be fatal
Benefits of Drinking Enough Water
- Water Helps to Maximize Physical Performance
If we do not stay hydrated, physical performance can suffer. This is particularly important during intense exercise or high heat.
Dehydration can have a noticeable effect if you lose as little as 2% of your body’s water content. This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, increased fatigue and make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally.
Optimal hydration has been shown to prevent this from happening, and may even reduce the oxidative stress that occurs during high intensity exercise. This is not surprising when you consider that muscle is about 80% water.
- Hydration Has a Major Effect on Energy Levels and Brain Function
Your brain is strongly influenced by hydration status. Studies show that even mild dehydration (1-3% of body weight) can impair many aspects of brain function.
In a study of young women, fluid loss of 1.36% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration, and increased the frequency of headaches.
Another similar study, this time in young men, showed that fluid loss of 1.59% was detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue.
- Drinking More Water May Help Relieve Constipation
Constipation is a common problem, characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stool. Increasing fluid intake is often recommended as a part of the treatment protocol, and there is some evidence to back this up.
Low water consumption appears to be a risk factor for constipation in both young and elderly individuals. Carbonated water shows particularly promising results for constipation relief, although the reason is not entirely understood.
- Drinking Water May Help Treat Kidney Stones
Urinary stones are painful clumps of mineral crystal that form in the urinary system. The most common form is kidney stones, which form in the kidneys.
Higher fluid intake increases the volume of urine passing through the kidneys, which dilutes the concentration of minerals, so they are less likely to crystallize and form clumps. Water may also help prevent the initial formation of stones, but studies are required to confirm this.
- Water Helps Prevent Hangovers
A hangover refers to the unpleasant symptoms experienced after drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, so it makes you lose more water than you take in. This can lead to dehydration. Read our article about hangovers and hydration here!
Although dehydration is not the main cause of hangovers, it can cause symptoms like thirst, fatigue, headache and dry mouth. A good way to reduce hangovers is to drink a glass of water between drinks, and to have at least one big glass of water before going to bed.
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h/t to healthline.com for the great info!