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The Benefits of Staying Hydrated
By Shreya Goyal, MD
Did you know that the human body is approximately 60% water? Every cell, tissue, and organ depends on water to function correctly, so it stands to reason that we are encouraged to stay hydrated.
Most importantly, staying hydrated plays a significant role in regulating body temperature. Drinking plenty of H20 helps you produce sweat when overheating, which cools the body, preventing heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.
Beyond serving as the body's cooling mechanism and quenching our thirst, staying hydrated has many additional benefits.
Benefit #1: Regulating Our Kidneys
One of the primary reasons for staying hydrated is to keep your kidneys functioning properly. The role of our kidneys is to remove waste products from our blood through urine. When we aren’t sufficiently hydrated, excess toxins and acids build up in our bodies, which harms our kidneys. Dehydration can also lead to kidney stones and urinary tract infections, which can lead to kidney damage.
Drinking water allows your blood vessels to deliver essential nutrients to your kidneys easily and helps maintain optimal blood pressure, which directly impacts your kidneys’ health.
Benefit #2: Aids in Digestion
Adequate hydration helps us digest food properly because it aids in the absorption of nutrients. If you aren’t drinking enough water, you may experience constipation, irregular bowel movements, gas, bloating, heartburn, and other uncomfortable conditions. Drinking H20 with and in between meals has a significant impact on the digestive tract.
Benefit #3: Boosts Energy
If you tend to grab a sugary snack or caffeinated beverage to beat your mid-afternoon slump, refill your water bottle instead.
When you aren’t sufficiently hydrated, it impacts your circulation. This, in turn, affects the flow of oxygen to your brain, causing your heart to work harder, which may make you feel tired and sluggish. Drinking a glass of water when your energy is zapped might give you a lift to get you through the rest of the day.
Benefit #4: Keeps You Focused
Even if you’re mildly dehydrated, it can negatively affect your memory, focus, and concentration. Increasing your water intake can improve your cognitive performance and help you better manage your emotions. If you're anxious or overly stressed, drinking water may help calm those feelings.
Benefit #5: Aids in Losing Weight
In the "battle of the bulge," water is an essential weapon. Drinking it can help make you feel full between meals so that you’re not tempted to reach for the cookie jar or break open a bag of chips. Because you consume fewer calories, you may lose weight and reduce your body mass index. Along the way, you also reduce your overall sugar, cholesterol, sodium, and saturated fat intake, which offers many other benefits.
Benefit #6: Prevents Aches and Pains
Staying well hydrated can prevent aches and pains often associated with our joints. Because joints are composed of 80% water, drinking enough water to keep them lubricated is essential, especially as we age.
Hydration also plays a role in the prevention and management of headaches. One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is a headache. Drinking water also may relieve a nagging headache or migraine.
Benefit #7: Improves Skin Health
Without adequate water intake, skin appears duller, and wrinkles and pores become more prominent. Proper hydration levels help to increase blood flow to the skin, which make it appear plumper and improve elasticity, and helps prevent unwanted blemishes.
Drink of Choice
The best source of hydration is water. You should drink eight cups of water a day; this may vary according to sex, age, and other factors.
Your allotted daily cups don't necessarily have to come from drinking plain water. Instead, mix it up and flavor your water with lemons, berries, oranges, and cucumber slices. Coffee and tea also count.
Staying Hydrated for Optimal Health
Besides drinking plenty of water, you can take several other steps to ensure you are adequately hydrated:
- Incorporate hydrating foods into your diet: Several fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, cucumbers, and strawberries, have high water content and can help you stay hydrated.
- Use alcohol and caffeine in moderation: Both substances can cause dehydration. Be mindful of how much you are consuming and limit your intake.
- Take note of your urine color: The color of your urine is a good indicator of whether you are adequately hydrated. If it's pale or light yellow, it's a sign you are well hydrated. You need to increase your water intake if it's dark yellow or amber.
Keeping well hydrated provides an array of health benefits. If you’re not getting enough water, then it’s time to drink up.
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