Seven Surprising Benefits of Drinking More Water
How much water do you drink daily?
Once a year I like to offer up a challenge for the month of October. It’s called “Aquatober.” The goal is to cut out empty calories from sugary beverages and drink nothing but water the entire month. Up to 60% of the human adult body is made up of water and it’s a critical part of our everyday lives. Here are a few of the benefits you get from drinking more.
Drinking water helps you lose weight. People who drank 16 ounces of water (about two level cups) before every meal, lost more weight than people who didn’t drink water before eating.
Over the course of a three-month study the water drinkers lost an average of 15.5 pounds compared with a loss of 11 pounds for the control group. After a year, the water drinkers lost even more weight for a year-end total of 17 pounds weight loss. Meanwhile, the non-water drinkers gained weight and ended the year with an average of only 9 pounds weight loss.
But, there’s a catch. It didn’t work for people who were under the age of 35. It takes longer for the stomach of an older person to empty, so researchers think the water made them feel fuller and less hungry. In younger people the water leaves the stomach much quicker and may not provide the same feeling of fullness.
Drinking more water helps your kidneys avoid problems. The higher volume of fluid dilutes the concentration of salts and minerals passing through your kidneys. That extra water prevents those minerals from crystallizing and forming kidney stones.
A simple way to check if you’re drinking enough is by the color and smell of your urine. A darker color and stronger odor generally means you need to drink more. You know you’re probably getting enough fluid if urine is light in color and free of odor.
Drinking water helps build muscles. Muscles are about 79% water. You can start to feel tired if you lose as little as 2% of your body’s water content through sweat. It’s not unusual for athletes to lose 5-10% of their water through sweat during an intense workout or on a hot day. All that water loss can seriously reduce muscle strength and endurance.
Water boosts strength by carrying oxygen to your cells, including the cells of your muscles. When you drink water the increased oxygen helps your muscles work harder and longer before they get tired. That allows you to push harder in a workout and ultimately build more muscle.
Drinking water can make you smarter. Studies have shown that fluid loss as little as 2% (mild dehydration) can impair concentration and reduce working memory. Mental performance increased by as much as 30% when people stayed properly hydrated.
Drinking water can help reduce the number of headaches you experience. Dehydration can be a trigger for migraines and headaches in some people. Taking in enough water throughout the day helps reduce the frequency. Drinking water has also been shown to reduce the intensity and duration of a headache or migraine, even after it’s started.
Drinking water can save you money. A 16-ounce glass of tap water costs less than a penny. A 16 ounce soda can cost anywhere from $1 to $3 while sports and specialty drinks can cost even more. If you drink only one a day, and you get it on sale, you’re still spending over $365 a year.
Drinking water can reduce cravings. When we drink a diet soda, our stomachs detect "sweet" and start preparing for the sugary calories. Diet soda has none. After about 30 minutes, our bodies start to crash because the "sweet calories" they were expecting never appeared. That makes us feel more hungry and tired than when we first drank the diet soda.
When you drink water, you’re filling up your stomach without giving it anything negative to react to. Drink more water to keep you healthier, wealthier and wiser.
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