Water is the liquid of life. It is the most effective way to stay hydrated, and it’s essential not only for humans but for all living things. The human body is 60 percent water, so maintaining that level is very important in order to avoid dehydration, considering that there are plenty of ways in which the body eliminates it (through urine and sweat mostly).
How Much Water to Drink per Day
The general consensus states that you should drink about two liters of water, which is approximately half a gallon. The easiest way to remember (and dose) the recommended daily water intake is to drink eight glasses per day, each with eight ounces of water.
Of course, that depends on who you ask. Others suggest that it’s best to drink plenty of water throughout the day constantly, even when you’re not thirsty. There are diets that even suggest drinking water whenever you’re feeling hungry because it will take away some of that hunger sensation. But can studies actually confirm that?
There are two studies that have suggested that 17 ounces of water (which is about 500 ml) can increase your metabolism with 24 to 30 percent for a short period of time. Estimations based on those numbers suggest that two liters of water per day can add 96 daily calories worth of energy expenditure. Further recommendations suggest drinking cold water because the body will use up more calories to bring said water to your body’s temperature.
Research has also shown that consuming water before a meal is capable of reducing the number of calories consumed in older adults. The evidence collected during one particular study has shown that consuming 17 ounces of water per day can lead to 44 percent more weight loss over a duration of 12 weeks compared to people who consume less.
Of course, there is also the problem of other fluids and whether or not they count towards your daily total. There are actually plenty of foods that have high water content, especially fruits like watermelons, but also fish, vegetables, and certain types of meat.
A typical misconception is that tea and caffeine-based beverages aren’t hydrating when the truth is mere that the diuretic effect is weak. In other words, food and other drinks can also contribute to your daily water intake.
What about Thirst?
We’ve talked about the suggestions that imply one should drink water even when they’re not thirsty. The body knows how much water it needs to survive, and it will regulate your daily intake accordingly. When you start feeling thirsty, it means that your water levels have gone below a certain threshold.
That means that thirst is the first instinct that you should rely on if you’re concerned about when to drink water during the day. While there are certain guidelines about how much water you should drink every day, this is not a rule, as there are circumstances that may require more or less water drinking.
For example, people with certain medical conditions may be required to limit their daily intake to even less than two liters. In other cases, like those of increased sweating, you will need to drink more water in order to compensate for the amount eliminated.
People who exercise often or live in dry climates or have to face extremely high temperatures will be required to drink more water. Women who breastfeed are also required an increase in the daily consumption rates.
Benefits of Drinking Water
Since water is the elixir of life, there are obvious health benefits to drinking it. However, there are also repercussions to not giving your body the amount it demands during the day, so let’s explore all the reasons why water is good for you.
When your body is dehydrated, you are more likely to experience headaches and dizziness. While this is not true for everyone, it does happen in a lot of people, and there are studies that have linked low water levels to migraines before.
This subject is still up for debate, as there was a study conducted on a number of 18 people which shows that the water intake does not influence the frequency of migraines, but it can reduce their intensity and durations up to a certain point.
It is pretty clear that people who practice sports, or workout, or are performance athletes of some sort will require a higher water intake because their bodies will sweat more than those of people who don’t exercise. Naturally, if said exercise occurs at high temperatures, even higher water intake is required.
What’s interesting is that dehydration can occur once the body loses as little as two percent of its total water content. However, people who work out (and especially performance athletes) can lose between six to 10 percent because of their excessive sweating.
Naturally, this can take a toll on a person’s body, one that these people can’t afford because it would diminish their performance. The loss of water that leads to dehydration can cause imbalances in body temperature control, it can make fatigue appear faster, causing their bodies to feel tired and unable to exercise. This can heavily reduce motivation, as well, which would mean that dehydration affects people on both a physical and a mental level.
When athletes and people who work out drink plenty of water in the process, one of the benefits they get is the fact that there is less oxidative stress which can appear when you’re performing high-intensity exercises.
When you consume just the right amount of water, you are forcing your bowels to function properly because your gastrointestinal tract has a good flow. As a result, you can avoid constipation when you drink more water. For example, people who aren’t hydrated properly will have their colons pull water from their stools, which results in constipation.
If you’ve ever visited the doctor because you were constipated, you were most likely advised to drink more water than usual, as this is part of the constipation treatment protocol. Low water intake can lead to constipation in both adults and children.
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of diets that suggest you should drink more water if you want to lose weight. That’s true because of two reasons: water can help boost a person’s metabolic rate and it increases the feeling of satiety.
In fact, studies have revealed that just by drinking half a liter of water, you can boost your metabolic rate with up to 30 percent for an hour and a half. Of course, it also depends on timing. It turns out that you should drink water half an hour before a meal if you want this to be effective in your endeavor to consume fewer calories.
What’s even more interesting is that water helps you get rid of calories in more ways than one. Aside from what we’ve already mentioned when you drink water:
- Your body finds it easier to eliminate waste. A dehydrated body will find it difficult to eliminate urine or stool, but when you drink more water, your kidneys are more capable of filtering out toxins. When you’re not eliminating waste, you will start to feel bloated, which adds extra inches to the waist.
- You burn fat. It’s as simple as that. Water can help your body with metabolization, which takes care of how fats and carbohydrates are stored. Through a process called hydrolysis, the water molecules inside the body will interact with triglycerides in order to create fatty acids and glycerol. The more water you drink, the more interactions between water and triglycerides you can create.
- Your workouts are better. Linked to the idea we’ve presented earlier, staying hydrated is an important part of making your mind and your body stay active during a workout or when performing a certain sport. Water is very helpful in making your joints and muscles move correctly, which leads to a more fruitful workout. Just make sure that you drink water before, during, and after the exercise.
There is actually not enough scientific evidence to fully support this statement, but the evidence so far does imply that water can prevent recurrence in people who have previously dealt with kidney stones.
Kidney stones are build-ups of mineral crystals that form inside the kidneys, but they can also be part of the urinary system as well. When you drink more water, your kidneys will produce more urine. As it passes through the kidneys, the concentration of minerals is diluted, making them less likely to form clumps.
Surprising or not, water can actually help prevent hangovers as long as you drink it in tandem with the actual alcohol. As you know, hangovers are unpleasant sensations that usually manifest themselves through nausea, headaches, vomiting, and fatigue, and that appear after having consumed alcohol.
Because it is a diuretic, alcohol causes the body to lose more water than its intake, which in turn leads to dehydration. This isn’t the primary cause of a hangover, but it can trigger plenty of unpleasant symptoms that you probably already know about.
In order to prevent hangovers as much as possible, consider drinking one glass of water in between two alcoholic drinks. Also, you want to make sure that you drink plenty of water before going to bed.
The amount of water that you drink might have a say in the efficiency of your brain. In other words, losing just three percent of your body’s water can cause interference in several different brain functions. For example, a study conducted on a group of young women revealed the fact that losing 1.36 percent of fluid after exercising can alter one’s mood and concentration levels, while also increasing the odds of ending up with a headache.
Similar studies have been conducted on young men, a well. The results revealed that losing 1.59 percent lead to more fatigue and anxiety, while also decreasing their ability to memorize things. Of course, there were plenty of other different studies conducted on both the older and younger population which revealed that dehydration can lead to mood swings, lower brain performance, and lower memory capacity.
Yes, skin health is related to how much water you drink. Considering that the skin is the body’s largest organ, protecting it implies plenty of hydration. When your body isn’t getting enough water, your skin can also suffer and become dry and flaky.
But water benefits the skin not only when you drink it, but also when you apply it on your skin. You may have noticed that plenty of facial creams and body lotions are based on water as one of their primary ingredients. That’s because the skin gets hydrated in more ways than one, which is why creams with hyaluronic acid have become so popular in the last few years (hyaluronic acid makes the skin absorb more water from both internal and external sources, keeping it moisturized and hydrated.
Drinking water can boost the immune system in one of two ways. First of all, it helps carry oxygen to the cells of your body, which further increases the efficiency of different systems. Second, it can also make your body eliminate toxins more efficiently because it acts as a natural detoxifier.
Once again, think about the fact that your body is made 60 percent out of the water, but this water actually comes in the form of different fluids. Naturally, it’s very important to maintain a balanced level of each type of fluid inside the body, and your daily water intake can be held responsible for that.
Your body basically needs fluids for plenty of its systems to function properly, from digestion to body temperature regulation, and from circulation to nutrients transportation. The back of the pituitary gland acts as a communication bridge between your kidneys and your brain, determining how much water the water should retain and how much it should secrete via urine outputs. This is just one example of how water is part of many bodily systems.
When it comes to drinking water, your thirst is the first signal you should pay attention to. Whenever you’re feeling thirsty, drink water. If you’re not, then you don’t have to. Your water intake also varies depending on the climate of the region where you live or how much exercise you do during the day.
Basically, drinking water is important for a lot of your body systems to function correctly. But you can’t just think of water as something that benefits you; you should also consider it a requirement because not having enough water in your body can lead to major discomfort and potentially to several different health problems.
In order to push yourself toward drinking the amount of water that your body needs and avoid dehydration, have a bottle of water with you at all times, no matter where you’re going. As long as you don’t abuse sugar-based drinks, feel free to drink the beverages that you enjoy in order to increase your liquid intake. And, most importantly, consume foods that are rich in water, such as fruits, vegetables, or fish.
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