Have you ever heard the line from a poem about “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink”? That seems to be the mantra of our age. Some people tell us that the classic “eight ounces, eight times daily” is more than enough. That’s close to two liters. Sounds good, right? Not if you go by the latest research, which suggests that most of us are in a perpetual state of dehydration! And then there are some health and nutrition experts who insist that we sip on water all day, just as we breathe in air all day.
So what is the truth? How much of water is really enough for our body? And why is it a critical question at all? Well, drinking a minimum amount of water every day is indeed precious for your health, and here are a few vital reasons.
Constant Hydration Keeps Your Skin Happy
They key word here is “hydrate”. As much as 60 percent of our body is just water, and maintaining this percentage is essential to keeping our metabolic functions in balance. But we lose a significant amount of it every single day through urine and sweat, and if this loss is not replenished, the water percentage could become unbalanced, with negative repercussions for your health.
Many experts concur that our skin is the first to feel the slight. You see, when we get dehydrated, the water already present in our body is first directed to the heart, so it stays happy and actively pumping. This is often at the cost of water required for our skin, and it unfortunately pays a price.
This is when you see your skin turning dry, and in severe cases, wrinkled. If your skin has been begun to peel off, acute dehydration could be the cause. So there is some truth when they say eight glasses of water a day is more likely to keep your skin young and glowing.
The More You Drink Up, the More Calories You Burn
This is often cited by weight loss experts, and it seems to have some truth. Health experts share at least two studies where each time the participants drank half a liter of water, their metabolism significantly improved (up to 30%). However, this effect was temporary and lasted about 90 minutes. Still good we say, as there is a lot that can be done in 90 minutes.
When our metabolism is performing at its peak, so are its functions. The body is naturally detoxed without the need for any special diets. All your organs are kept at optimum temperature and are not overheating due to lack of water.
Digestion is also greatly aided, as enzymes now have a liquid carrier to sail through. In fact, inadequate consumption of water triggers several digestive disorders like constipation, kidney stones, etc. Conversely, regular water consumption keeps digestion and bowel movements smooth. In total, your body functions like a well-lubricated machine. Nice!
Water can also fool your body into consuming less food. The trick is to drink up about 30 minutes before you eat. As your belly is already heavy with water, you will eat less and still feel full. This is salient if you want to lose weight. Who says you cannot play healthy tricks on your own body? So drink up, eat less, digest more quickly, and watch the calories casually melt away. And if this can be effortlessly achieved by a single glass of water or two, without the need to pop any pills, why not!
Drinking Fluids Sure Helps
Get your daily dose of fresh, preferably unsweetened fruit juices, herbal teas, thinner smoothies, and of course, milk. Make sure “fluids” doesn’t include your favorite alcoholic cocktail or aerated drink! They actually leave you more dehydrated. So does soda, which is just terrible for you. But anyway, it isn’t just plain water that does wonders for the body. Hydrating with healthy liquids gives you all of the wonderful benefits too. So your morning smoothie or tea certainly counts. So do several other fruits and veggies.
Cucumbers, zucchinis, celery sticks, cauliflowers, spinach bunches, (red) cabbages, green peas, carrots, eggplants, and even peppers are all super rich in water content. So that should give you some serious goals to eat more green to stay hydrated, happy and lean.
The bottle gourd is a special wonder, as it can also make up for past dehydration. And as for your aqua-rich fruity snack, there are always oranges, peaches, grapes, cherries and most other berries, pineapples, and the water-heavy cantaloupe that can rush to your immediate rescue. This is one yummy way to stay hydrated!
Watch Your Urine
A wise man once said, “You can tell a lot about a man by his pee.” He sure wasn’t kidding! So the next time you rush to the bathroom, take a moment to note the color of your urine. If your body is superbly hydrated and happy, it should be a pale lemon color. The darker the color, the more dehydrated you are. In fact, you can immediately drink a glass of water or two and see the results the next time you urinate.
If all is otherwise well with your health, the color is sure to have reduced. On the other hand, if your urine is completely colorless, ease up and give your kidneys a rest. You are drinking a little too much! On the rare occasion that you notice traces of blood in your urine, see a doctor right away.
Listen to Your Thirst
Does all this seem like too much – to skip your favorite sodas and switch to plain juice or milky smoothies? Relax; your body will undoubtedly tell you when it is thirsty. The trick is to simply listen to it. This works for most people. But if your water intake has been low for a long time, your body may have found other desperate ways to keep your organs hydrated.
This means your skin loses water while your heart stays hydrated. Your hair becomes dry to keep other organs happy. And so on. This is when you need to consciously remind yourself, and your distrustful body, with a pre-determined goal, such as consuming a glass of water or another healthy liquid every other hour. Continue to do this until your love for water (and other healthy liquids) becomes a natural part of your lifestyle.
In summary, water does a lot of good for your body, so drink up easily. You may have noticed that we failed to give you a number. Yes, it was intentional. There is no single, magical, universal number that simply works for everybody.
The 8×8 rule is a good place to start. But do you need more, or perhaps a little less? Or, even different amounts on different days? Leave all of this to your body, as it will surely tell you. However, there are some who will need to consciously overload on water, simply because of their present lifestyle. Take extra care to stay hydrated (more than 8×8) if:
- You are an athlete. You will probably need at least twice the normal recommended amount, and even some electrolyte drinks to compensate for water loss through constant sweat.
- Your work keeps you exceptionally active.
- You are ill, or losing water due to vomiting or diarrhea.
- You live in hot weather conditions. It actually gets even worse if you don’t sweat despite the heat. This is a sure sign that your distrustful yet resourceful body is hoarding water to make up for dehydration. It may also stop telling you when it is thirsty!
- You are lactating. It is also good to constantly drink up when you are pregnant. It may mean more visits to the loo, but your body and your baby will bless you for it too!
Finally, is there a danger to drinking too much? For most humans, it takes a significant amount of water before it gets to be “too much”. But if you have a heart or kidney-related health condition, you may be advised to drink less than normal so your heart or kidney is not overloaded. You may have to get hydration another way since your body needs a constant dose of water.