Chances are, you aren’t drinking enough water. Many, if not most, Americans are walking around all day suffering from dehydration and probably don’t even know it. And with summer right around the corner, we are all at an even worse risk of dehydration. So how do you know if you are dehydrated? And what are the health consequences of dehydration?
When discussing the health benefits of water, it is hard to know where to begin. We are, after all, made up of mostly water. We’re not talking about one nutrient, vitamin, or food group here. We’re talking about water, our most basic human need. For many thousands of years, humans did not always have access to clean and unlimited quantities of water. And now that we do? Well, we’d rather have soda, beer, wine, juice, coffee, energy drinks, or some convoluted “water beverage” like coconut water instead. Simply replacing some or all of these beverages with water instead will save you hundreds of calories a day and lead to better overall health and hydration. And to make matters even worse, beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol will even further dehydrate you. One easy way to monitor your hydration is to pay attention to the color and frequency of your urine. If you’re only going a few times a day, you probably need to drink more water. And if your urine is the same color as the gold stars you give your children for doing their homework, maybe they need to be giving you gold stars for drinking water instead. If after urinating you’re tempted to not even flush because the water looks the same color as before, you’re probably well-hydrated and have earned that gold star.
Water is of vital importance for many, many reasons, but here are a few. Drinking enough water helps your kidneys properly filter out waste products and keep your blood clean. It also helps keep your metabolism running along smoothly, especially when it comes to fat metabolism. Water also helps keep your blood thinner, making it easier to pump throughout your body. Americans typically eat way too much sodium as well, and drinking enough water can help negate the negative health consequences associated with that. Water is also very important in proper digestion. The more food you eat, the more water you need to drink. Churning up food in the stomach and moving it all through the intestines is much easier when you’re amply hydrated. In the absence of proper hydration, your body will take water away from the food in your intestines, leading to constipation. In addition, a glass of cold water helps you stay cool, is absorbed faster than hot water, and the body even has to burn a few calories in order to heat that water up to body temperature.
When it comes to controlling body weight, next time you’re hungry, try drinking a big glass of water first and see if you’re still hungry. You may just be dehydrated and craving food, which itself has water. Or if you’ve just binge eaten your way through half the fridge and are still hungry for some unfathomable reason, try filling the rest of your stomach up with water and see if you’re still craving. And when it comes to drinking alcohol, realize the importance of water. Ask any professional drinker and they’ll tell you that drinking water during a night of drinking will help you feel better throughout the night and much better the next morning. A large part of a hangover is simply dehydration. So next time you come home from a night of drinking and want to immediately pass out face down with your shoes still on, try and chug a couple glasses of water first. You’ll be thanking yourself profusely in the morning. And as mentioned above, caffeinated drinks also cause dehydration so chase that coffee or energy drink with some water as well.
Drinking enough water is simply healthy for the entire system of your body, helping your muscles, organs, and brain work at an optimal level. Being properly hydrated sets you up for better overall health, so don’t underestimate the far-reaching beneficial effects of water. In general, it is recommended that we drink at least 8-12 eight-ounce glasses a day.
Article Courtesy: Andrew Steingrube
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