By Dr Graham Simpson, MD
No doubt you’ve by now become immune to your physician’s constant “drink eight glasses of water a day” reminder. Yes, we all know we need to drink it, but most of us are unsure of exactly why, and very few of us do in fact drink even close to the recommended amount.
Understanding how your body benefits from proper hydration should be motivation enough to get into the habit of drinking a good amount of water every single day. Below I am giving you six powerful benefits. And while you are reading through them, keep in mind the following figures: An adult woman is 55% water and an adult male 60%. A baby is 78%. The brain is 70%. Lean muscle is 75%. The blood is 83%. The lungs are 90%.
We are pretty much made of water. And this is why each day we need to replace 2.4 liters of water through what we drink and what we eat.
Now let’s talk about those benefits.
- You need water for adequate brain function
Don’t grab your usual cup of coffee when you feel you brain is starting to shut down by late morning, because believe it or not, water is going to keep you far more alert. In fact, your brain literally depends on it. When your body’s water supply is running low, brain function will decrease. Science explains this quite well: Neurons found in the brain hold tiny balloon-like structures called vacuoles, where the water storage unit resides. When neurons aren’t replenished with an adequate amount of water, cognitive performance can be negatively affected. This means that brain fog and lack of mental alertness you often feel may well be the cause of your lack of hydration.
- Your cells thrive on water
A healthy functioning cell allows nutrients in and eliminates toxins. Our cells need nutrients in order to survive, and water (which is in itself a nutrient) acts as the railway transporter by getting nutrients through the cell walls. And so yes this process can be hampered if you’re deficient in water, with the end result being nutrient deficient cells that are prone to toxin buildup. What we are left with is a body that is at greater risk of developing disease.
- Water speeds up your metabolism
Mild dehydration can slow down your metabolism, whereas keeping well hydrated will give you metabolism a substantial boost. Studies have shown that the metabolic rate of healthy males and females can increase 30% within 10 minutes of water consumption, and this increase can be sustained for up to 40 minutes. While on this topic we can also bring in the role water plays with respect to our eating habits. It’s a truly great remedy for both controlling hunger and preventing overeating. Before a meal try drinking a glass or two of water. You’ll likely find that you will have no problem eating less than you normally do.
- Water reduces your risk of heart attack
I write a lot in my articles about what foods to avoid and which ones to eat in order to keep a healthy heart. And now I am going to tell you that your heart also needs a good amount of water to stay healthy. Research shows that adequate hydration can reduce your risk of heart attack by 50%. A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that men who drank five or more glasses of water were 46% less likely to die from a heart attack, while women who drank the same amount slashed their risk by 59%.
- Water can help prevent headaches and migraines
Dehydration very often leads to headaches, so when you feel a headache coming on, do hydrate right away. Of course better is just to get your recommended dose of water throughout the day and avoid the risk of headaches caused by dehydration in the first place. Even those very serious migraines can at times be controlled through water. In a study published in the journal of Neurology, an experiment was conducted where migraine sufferers were split into two groups. The two-week experiment had one group take a placebo when the migraine hit, while the other drank about six cups of water. The results? The water drinkers experienced less pain intensity than that of the placebo group, and underwent 21 fewer hours of pain.
There are so many other benefits that come from drinking water. And some of these are pretty major. For example, research has linked water to cancer prevention, with long-term studies showing that drinking four or more glasses of water a day can reduce the risk of colon cancer by more than 40%.
If you think about it, it’s really not too much of a task. Replacing the 2.4 liters of water your body loses every day is really quite easy. Carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go is one way. Or you can simply drink a 250 milliliter glass of water (which will take you about five seconds) ten times a day. The important thing is to get into the habit and stay in the habit.
If you are not a regular water drinker, then become one. It may take some getting used to, but once you experience the very evident mental and physical health benefits, I am all but certain you will make this a lifetime habit. For me it is as essential as getting proper sleep, and I admit to being one of those nagging physicians who never misses a chance to remind my clients of their self-hydration duties.