Are you frustrated by your dull, uneven skin tone and dark under-eye circles? What about daily headaches or brain fog? Or an overall feeling of sluggishness and lack of concentration? Drink more water to look fantastic and feel your best. It is time to get started because it’s the key to turning around your health!
Did you know that water is one of four macronutrients, along with protein, fat, and carbs? The truth is it’s the most important of the macronutrients. You can survive weeks without food but only a few days without water.
Most Americans live in a state of chronic dehydration. So, starting with water is an excellent idea when you want to improve your health. Let’s get started!
Because of water’s critical role in keeping you alive, you notice the effects of being slightly dehydrated (1-2%) with symptoms of headaches and fatigue1.
60% of your body mass is water. Once you hit 5% dehydration, more serious issues arise with your digestion, muscles, and cardiovascular and immune systems. More than 10% dehydrated? Death is inevitable!
Water moves nutrients and oxygen around your body, helps your cells talk to each other, regulates your body temperature, cushions your joints, and lubricates your muscles.
Most of the volume of your cells and body fluids is water, the most abundant molecule in your body.
What are the key roles of water in your body?
- Hydrate and deliver oxygen to your cells
- Moisten oxygen for easier breathing
- Maintain the electrical properties of your cells
- Absorb shocks to your joints and organs
- Lubricate your joints
- Transport nutrients
- Regulate your body temperature
- Improve cell-to-cell communication
- Remove waste from your body
- Empower your body’s natural healing process
- Enable your digestive process and more….
And there is a connection between water and weight loss! If you are well hydrated, your body can work more efficiently. Drinking water helps suppress your appetite, makes exercising more accessible and efficient, and boosts your metabolism.
Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 liters) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour2.
So if you are trying to lose weight, proper hydration is a must!
What happens when you drink more water?
Let’s start at the beginning. Water hangs out in three places: within your cells (⅔) and between your partitions and blood (⅓).3 Muscles contain water, but fat doesn’t. The cells of your organs are primarily made up of water.
Your brain – specifically your hypothalamus – is in charge of telling your body when it needs water. It’s a good signal, but you’re already dehydrated when it kicks in and may not be fully hydrated when it turns off. This is why sipping water throughout the day is essential.
The amount of water you absorb depends on your eating while drinking. If you’re sipping on an empty stomach, you’ll soak more. Most of your body’s water absorption happens in the small intestine, and it takes water into your gut lining and bloodstream and sends it to your body’s cells.
Your kidneys are constantly filtering your blood. They have the job of removing waste from your blood, like urea (protein waste). Excess water in your blood is also removed – this is why drinking a lot of water means more trips to the bathroom. And if you’re dehydrated, your kidneys pull more water into your blood, and your urine is dark. Your body has to have the right amount of water in your blood at all times.
Your kidneys also ensure you have the right amount of electrolytes in your bloodstream. And they’re in charge of activating Vitamin D, making more red blood cells, and raising blood pressure.
Drink more water to remove waste from your body
The other organ in charge of waste is your large intestine (colon). Its job is to reabsorb water and electrolytes in the waste that comes from your small intestine. This mostly liquid waste includes excess nutrients, fatty acids, bacteria, and insoluble fiber that your body can’t use. Your colon removes the water from the trash that wasn’t absorbed by your small intestine, and it’s then pooped out.
What happens when too much water is taken out of your waste? Constipation. And when not enough is taken out? Diarrhea. Finding this balance comes with having good gut health.
Your thirst signals
Let’s talk more about your hypothalamus. It’s a big deal concerning thirst and hunger, and being slightly dehydrated triggers your hypothalamus to tell you that you’re thirsty. The urge to drink fluids is an instinct regulated by a negative feedback loop between the hypothalamus and other organs in the body.
Your hypothalamus detects when there is not enough water in your blood. Special hypothalamus sensors constantly monitor your blood’s concentration of sodium and other substances. It sends a message to your pituitary gland, which releases ADH (antidiuretic hormone) to your kidneys, so more water is reabsorbed into your blood.
Yet people sometimes lose their sense of thirst, especially as they age. You will likely have thirst messaging issues if you have suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury). If this is you, homeopathic rehydration drops are an option. These drops will enhance your hypothalamus and pituitary messaging system to help you. Ever noticed that if you drink water, you run to the bathroom almost immediately? Then you are thirsty and need to support your hypothalamus.
There are also incidents of people drinking too much water, particularly marathon runners who drink too much n an attempt to avoid dehydration. The excess water overwhelms the kidneys, which can’t flush out the fluid quickly. The water then rushes into cells throughout the body, swelling like balloons. In the brain, such swelling can be disastrous, causing seizures, coma, respiratory arrest, and death.
Excessive thirst can signal blood sugar issues, so you should never ignore your body’s messaging systems. When something feels off, it usually is!
Confusing thirst with hunger
And often, you can mistake thirst for hunger. If you have a habit of eating when you aren’t hungry, you stop being able to recognize when your body’s telling you to eat. Think you’re hungry? Drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes. If you’re still hungry, then have something to eat. You should be able to go 3-4 hours between meals with no problem. Using water as your guide will help reset your hunger signals and help you drop unwanted weight.
Drinking water increases your brain’s temperature and gets rid of toxins and dead cells. It also keeps cells active and balances chemical processes in the brain, helping to regulate stress and anxiety.Clare Kelway
A nutrient-dense, whole-food diet is a proven way to ensure you get electrolytes and maintain good gut health.
How do you know if you’re dehydrated?
We all suffer from mild dehydration occasionally. You probably know the symptoms of being dehydrated:
- Dry mouth
- Dark urine
- Muscle cramps
- Feelings of anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory lapses
When you’re chronically dehydrated, your symptoms are more serious:
- Joint pain
- Back pain
- GI issues
- Exercise-induced asthma
The good thing is that the solution is pretty simple. Drink water!
Drink more water for a healthy skin
Do you ever think about whether your skin is hydrated? Your body’s largest organ and billions of cells must stay hydrated to work correctly and look good.
Is your skin hydrated? There’s a difference between dry skin and I’m going to talk about dehydrated skin. Even if you don’t have dry skin, you likely suffer from dehydrated skin from time to time.
What are the signs?
- Dull or uneven skin tone and complexion
- Darker under-eye circles
- Shadows under the eyes and around the nose
- Lack of skin elasticity
Drinking water will help brighten your complexion and flush oil out of your skin, keeping your pores smaller. Hydration is also key to maintaining your skin’s elasticity – you want it to bounce back when you pull on it! You’ll also be less prone to scarring (acne!) and developing wrinkles and soft lines.
Drink more water: how much water should you be drinking?
This is a loaded question. Guidance was to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of clean water daily, and the Institute of Medicine now recommends 91oz for women and 125oz for men. It’s great to have a target to shoot for, but it might not be suitable for everyone. And remember, you can get your hydration from fruit and veg too! But know you need to drink more than you think!
There are so many factors that go into deciding how much water is enough:
- Your activity level and more activity mean more water.
- How much-processed food and sugar do you consume? You’ll need more water if this is part of your diet because you aren’t getting enough from food.
- I was feeling thirsty. Some people think thirsty more than others. If that’s you, drink more!
- Your physical environment. Hot and dry? You’ll be drinking more than someone in a temperate, humid place. Elevation also dehydrates you, so drink more if you live above 5,000′.
- Pregnancy and lactation. You’re creating a person – millions of new cells that need water! – when pregnant. And when nursing, you won’t make milk if you aren’t drinking enough water.
- Disease. Having certain chronic conditions means you’ll need to drink more.
What kind of water should you drink?
Water should be most of what you drink, but you want to know it’s safe. An excellent place to start is by checking your local water quality for contaminants, including heavy metals. The Environmental Working Group lets you check the quality by zip code. If your budget allows, invest in a water filtration system.
I’m a massive fan of the Berkey water filtration system, which removes 200+ unsafe contaminants.
What about reverse osmosis? Reverse osmosis (RO) strips the water of all minerals and pollutants. Again, this is a common issue I see with clients, and they have been drinking reverse osmosis water for years and didn’t realize it had stripped their electrolyte balance. So if you drink RO water, add the minerals with a pinch of unrefined salt.
If you are on healthy water, please get your water tested for parasites and contaminants. I have worked with many clients whose source of their health issues was the healthy water they were drinking or even washing in, and it can contain unwanted pathogens.
If you want to drink tap water, please get it checked. Don’t spend your hard-earned money on expensive supplements and then discover that you are drinking pollutants.
Drinking more water does not include carbonated drinks.
- Phosphoric acid stops the production of HCl. Research suggests that it might keep your body from using calcium.
- Regular soft drinks contain high fructose corn syrup/refined sugar, which increases blood glucose and insulin levels.
- Diet soft drinks contain aspartame, known as NutraSweet and Equal, and have 92 documented side effects! It changes to methanol, which converts to formaldehyde and formic acid, a corrosive. Do you want this in your body?
- Tap water is a source of carbonated water, which can be full of pollutants.
Now’s the time to kick your soft drink habit!
Tips for healthy hydration
Start your day with water. Yep, even before your morning coffee or tea. Coffee and tea are diuretics meaning that they make you more dehydrated. So break your fast with water first! A 16oz glass of clean water breaks your overnight hydration fast. It helps your liver to do its morning metabolic work of detoxifying the body. It also helps with better digestion throughout the day.
Drink only water until your urine is light yellow or straw-colored. This means you are hydrated.
Add lemon, lime, cucumber, or berries to water to create a hydrating infusion if you find drinking plain water is not appetizing.
Drink before, during, and after exercising. Muscle cramping while exercising is a sign of electrolyte imbalance because you’re sweating out salt. And remember that your muscle cells are full of water? When you’re dehydrated, your muscle cells break down muscle faster and build new muscle slower. Not a very effective workout, huh?
Drink water between your meals (or at least 30 minutes before), not during your meals. You are drinking while eating dilutes the enzymes needed to digest your food, improving hydration and making you less hungry.
Anytime you reach for a snack, have some water first because you might have been thirsty instead! Studies have shown that people who drink 16oz before meals also tend to eat less overall.
Avoid iced water! Drinking iced water with your meals lowers nutrient absorption during digestion.
And the most obvious – drink when you’re thirsty!
You’ve always known water is essential, but now you know why. Having a healthy mind and body means prioritizing hydration. And the added benefits of great skin and weight loss are the icing on the cake.
If hydration is already a part of your health program, but you want to take things to the next level, let’s talk!
Schedule a free health analysis call.
We’ll work together to take you to the next level on your health journey.