Unfortunately, drinking enough water is not as big of a priority for most of us as it should be. As we all know, water makes up about 60% of the human body. Hydration is crucial to ensure that our bodies function at their best.
As people get older, we lose some of our thirst cues, meaning we aren’t always drinking water when we should be. A good way to combat this is to make hydration a priority by tracking the amount of water you consume daily.
When our bodies don’t get enough water, we start to experience the symptoms of dehydration. These symptoms can include weakness, headaches, and dizziness. However, there are also countless benefits to drinking a sufficient amount of water. These include the improvement of your digestive system, your skin, and your mental health.
The Long-Term Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated
According to this article from Harvard Medical School, staying hydrated is crucial to many aspects of our health. It’s important to drink enough water so that your body has the ability to accomplish the following:
- Carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells
- Flushing bacteria from your bladder
- Normalizing blood pressure
- Cushioning joints
- Protecting organs and tissues
- Regulating body temperature
- Maintaining electrolyte imbalance
As people get older, some start to suffer from things such as joint pain, high blood pressure, and nutrient imbalances. While consistently staying hydrated may prevent these ailments, hydrating your body may be able to undo the effects of some of these symptoms, and it’s never too late to start tracking water intake.
Staying sufficiently hydrated also lubricates your airways and produces mucus and saliva. Dehydration can worsen the symptoms of asthma and allergies, as dry airways can make it difficult to get oxygen.
Hydration can promote healthy weight loss. Replacing sugary drinks with water in your diet is a very effective method of losing weight, as well as drinking water before and during meals. Additionally, drinking water is known to boost athletic performance – staying sufficiently hydrated during exercise can improve your performance during strenuous activities.
Hydration and Your Digestive System
Along with the aforementioned health benefits, drinking a sufficient amount of water is known to improve your digestive system. Chronic dehydration can lead to constipation, bloating, and delayed digestion. Not drinking enough water can also lead to ailments such as heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach ulcers.
When people experience bouts of diarrhea or vomiting, they also experience dehydration. Water is significantly more crucial during these periods of time, as it is necessary to replenish your body’s loss of hydration. Drinking water can speed up your recovery time when you experience stomach-related illnesses.
The bowels depend on water to function properly. Drinking enough water will aid your stomach acids and enzymes in the process of breaking down food.
Will Drinking Water Improve Your Skin?
Drinking enough water is also known to have some cosmetic benefits. Dehydration over a prolonged period of time can lead to the skin becoming vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling.
Consistently taking in a sufficient amount of water can have the following skin-related benefits:
- Tightening skin: Aging and weight loss can lead to sagging skin, especially when weight loss occurs at a rapid pace. When you drink a sufficient amount of water daily, your skin can tighten, leaving it supple and shining with a healthy glow.
- Maintaining pH balance: On a scale of 0 to 14, the ideal pH balance of our skin is 7, which is neutral. Drinking more water can neutralize your skin. A healthy pH balance is also accomplished by thoroughly rinsing your skin with water following any harsh soaps or cleaners.
- Flushing toxins: Increase your water intake to flush out harmful toxins in your skin and body. Overall, drinking more water can improve the health of your skin and body. Many diets advertise using different juices and detox strategies to flush your body, but the most effective method is through drinking sufficient amounts of water.
- Preventing and reducing wrinkles: As we age, it becomes harder for our bodies to retain hydration. This is why it’s important to combat aging through drinking enough water. People who drink a lot of water are less likely to show signs of premature aging. This is because sufficient hydration can prevent wrinkles and fine lines over time.
- Preventing acne: Different types of toxins are known to clog pores and result in acne. Making a point of drinking enough water daily can help combat the growth of pimples and acne breakouts. Drinking water helps flush these toxins to reduce regular acne breakouts.
- Improving skin moisture: Drinking significant amounts of water does not immediately moisturize your skin. However, it hydrates our cells once they are filtered through our kidneys and absorbed into the bloodstream. Drinking water over a prolonged period of time can lead to more moisturized and supple skin.
Can Drinking Water Improve Your Mental Health?
The culture surrounding self-care on social media seems to insinuate that water is a cure-all for mental health-related issues. Unfortunately, this claim is not exactly true.
While there is certainly a connection between dehydration and poor mental health, there are a variety of other factors that must be taken into consideration as well.
Over 70% of the brain is made up of water. When the body is dehydrated, the brain’s systems begin to slow and stress levels will begin to rise. Chronic dehydration can lead to symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Dehydration can have a significant impact on mental health. It’s critical to give your brain enough water to perform its daily functions to avoid causing any unnecessary stress.
While dehydration alone cannot lead to a diagnosis of anxiety or depression, the accumulation of consistently failing to hydrate the body over time can cause a plethora of symptoms.
Dehydration will not single-handedly cause mental health issues, and staying hydrated will not magically cure them. However, providing your brain with enough water to complete its necessary functions over time will lead to better mental health.
How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day?
There are many different factors to take into consideration when asking how much water you should be drinking on a daily basis. You need to consider environmental and health-related factors when asking how much water you should be drinking:
- Where you reside – People who live in hot, humid, or dry climates will require more water to reach their body’s daily hydration needs. Those who live in high-altitude climates will also need more water than those who do not.
- Your eating habits – If your diet is high in salty, spicy, or sugary food, you will most likely need to consume more water to neutralize the acidity in your digestive system. If you do not receive additional hydration through eating fruits and vegetables, you will need to drink more water to combat this. Additionally, those who consume a significant amount of caffeinated beverages will need to drink more water, due to caffeine’s dehydrating effects.
- The weather – During the warmer months, the body will naturally perspire more. It’s important to drink more water to combat this loss of hydration.
- Your lifestyle – Those who spend a significant amount of time outdoors will need to drink more water, as perspiration and sun exposure will lead to dehydration. Additionally, those who lead a more active lifestyle will likely become thirstier faster than someone who is more sedentary throughout the day.
While the ideal amount of water you should drink daily is largely dependent on a number of factors, many experts claim that 8 glasses of water per day is the average. That being said, it’s important to sip on water throughout the day, even when you are not necessarily feeling thirsty.
Dehydration can lead to poor energy levels, loss of focus, and headaches throughout the course of the day. The best way to combat this is to prevent it altogether by making hydration a priority.