When it comes down to it: Water is essential. Our daily H20 intake of eight to twelve cups (two to three liters) can mean the difference between optimal health and decline into dis-ease. That’s mostly because our bodies (and our brains) largely consist of water, and nearly everything we do causes us to lose it each minute.
As we move throughout our day sweating, urinating and even breathing, we not only lose water, we lose vital nutrients and electrolytes that leave us feeling depleted and tired. It’s no wonder that water has been regarded as sacred and purifying throughout humankind’s history on our planet! With a new year before us and new goals to set, staying hydrated for optimal health should be top of our list! Let’s take a moment to look at some of the ways drinking more water improves our health.
Tuning Into Our Body for Cues
Everyone is unique, and every body is different. While it’s easy to become overwhelmed looking for rules on how much water we should be drinking, what kind, and when, try not to overthink it. Instead, we can pay closer attention to our bodies and minds for cues that can help us stay in tune with our health. According to this helpful chart, the color of our urine can indicate how hydrated we are – or aren’t. Additionally, testing our skin with a pinch-test (pinching between the thumb and forefinger and seeing if it takes longer than a few seconds to bounce-back) will give some indication if we need to catch up on our daily intake.
Water Impacts our Mood, Thinking and Cognitive Abilities
Speaking of overthinking, a loss of hydration can cause a noticeable shift in our cognition and mood. Feeling sluggish? Studies on headache sufferers have shown that improving hydration can help. So, the next time an important board meeting is on the agenda, or a big day is planned, we suggest downing a tall glass of water.
Gut Check: Digestion and the Benefits of Drinking More Water
When our body’s equilibrium is off, certain signs and symptoms show up unexpectedly. Often, we start to notice changes in our sleeping patterns, we simply feel “off,” or we notice changes in our gut. A slowed digestive tract can cause discomfort, constipation and pain. One of the primary functions of the large and small intestine is water absorption. In fact, without proper hydration, the intestines struggle to absorb electrolytes and move food through the final stages of the process. The result? We feel awful. Staying up to speed on hydration can help, and one study showed that women who drank nutrient-packed mineral water were able to improve their digestion. (Tip: Not a big fan of plain water or mineral water? Consider mixing powdered electrolytes that improve the taste and add a boost to your drink.)
Immunity and Our Body’s Defense Against Disease
Hydrating is key to feeling good, but it goes a step further. When our body is hydrated, all of our systems can perform optimally. And this means that our body’s defense system – the immune system – is armed and ready to protect us. Our mucous membrane, lymphatic drainage system and antibodies all depend on us to stay hydrated. With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, and new variants keeping us on our toes and testing the vaccine’s efficacy, we simply must give ourselves the best chance we can to remain healthy enough to fight.
How Hydration Helps Us Recover
Staying hydrated seems like an easy thing to do. Yet, somehow, even in normal times, we find ourselves feeling dry around the edges. When our health is impacted due to ongoing illness, cancer therapy and treatment or recovery from surgery, we are even more uniquely prone to both severe dehydration and even hospitalization. In these cases, planning ahead with a medical professional to avoid the risk of dehydration is paramount. It’s important to note that studies indicate staying hydrated during treatment not only helps us recover, it can help ease the side effects like nausea, fatigue, and vomiting and diarrhea by flushing out the toxins that accumulate in our body.
Without water, there is no life. As a simple step in our daily practice to improve our health, we can also improve our immunity, keep our minds sharp, optimize digestion and aid our recovery.
“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” – Loren Eiseley