Surprising Reasons to Drink Water

Surprising Reasons to Drink Water

Jun 29, 2015

Surprising Reasons to Drink Water

Barb Green, Parish Nurse

Milton, WI

What is calorie-free, virtually cost-free, and essential to keeping you alive? Plain ol’ water. Water drives basic body performance. All of the systems in the body require water for proper functioning, as do 90 percent of all chemical reactions in the body.

Water will help you de-stress. Sipping water throughout the day can soothe stress-induced symptoms such as headaches, tense muscles, fuzzy thinking, a pounding heart and low energy. Stress taxes all your basic body systems and when you are dehydrated, the effects are magnified. More than half your body weight is water so just a 2 percent reduction in hydration has a dramatic impact on energy levels and cognitive function. Dehydration raises levels of cortisol — the “stress hormone.” Water won’t wash your stressors away but it can provide you with more energy, ease tension, slow breathing and reduce the strain on your heart.

Drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals has been associated with weight loss. Water is filling, so you feel fuller and eat less. One study found that drinking water before meals meant that 75 fewer calories were consumed per meal. Another factor is that often water drinkers swap this zero-calorie beverage for sodas and other caloric beverages. When you’re well hydrated, your body is working closer to maximum efficiency, enhancing aspects of weight loss, like digestion and muscle function, when you exercise.

You’ll be less apt to be sick. Hydration keeps your mucus membranes in top working order. They’re gatekeepers to the natural defense system that helps keep out germs such as cold and flu viruses. Germs can more easily penetrate to the

nasopharynx where the nasal passages and mouth meet, when these tissues dry out. If you catch a bug anyway, the severity of your illness is more likely to be lower if you are well hydrated.

Plastic bottle and glass of drinking water isolated on white background

Water is an especially smart health move when you’re traveling. Most commercial planes fly at elevations between thirty and thirty-five thousand feet where humidity is ten percent or lower. You are breathing dry air in a tight space filled with germs from dozens of people. Water keeps your mucus membranes moist and your defenses high even in such a challenging situation.

Drinking water whether it is ice cold or hot will keep you warmer on a cold day and cool you off on a hot one. Water helps regulate body temperature. Your body’s temperature-regulating system works less well if you’re dehydrated.

Drinking water helps regulate your blood pressure. In 2010 the Red Cross discovered that blood donors fainted less often when given 16 ounces of water to drink before giving blood. Water activates the sympathetic nervous system making you more alert, elevating blood pressure momentarily and boosting energy. Not drinking enough water on a regular basis can also raise blood pressure because dehydration causes blood vessels to constrict as the body strives to conserve water. This makes the heart pump harder, bringing blood pressure up.


Tips to help you drink more water include:

• Start your day with a glass of water to remedy any overnight dehydration.

• Drink one cup of water a day instead of a soda, coffee or hot

chocolate. Increase as time goes by.

• Carry a bottle of water with you to remind you to drink.

• When flying take an empty bottle to the airport and fill it

once you’ve gone through security.

• Flavor your water by dropping some fruit into a pitcher and

letting it sit a few minutes or let an herbal or flavored green

tea bag steep in unheated water to accent the taste.

• Eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day is a guideline. The

right amount for you depends on your age, activity level,

health level, medications and the weather. Follow your

thirst and know that you are on the right track if you have

straw-colored urine.

Most of us find it difficult to drink enough water. With all the health benefits it offers, we need to make a resolution to drink more.

(Adapted from 5 Most Surprising Reasons to Drink Water

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