Why staying hydrated will change your life
You frequently read or hear that drinking water is good for you and that you should aim for something around 11-16 cups/ 2.6-3.7L per day. No wonder hydration continues to be a big trend these days. But why? What are the beneficial effects of staying hydrated?
Water is essential to life
Your body consists of around 60-70% water (depending on various factors, including your age). Every single cell in your body needs it to function. It helps to regulate your temperature, lubricates your joints, and helps you to flush out toxins.
Since it's used everywhere, you continuously lose some of it. Not just in the bathroom, but also through perspiration (sweating) and, yes, even via your breath. If you do not replenish your water levels regularly, your body will slowly go into dehydration. And dehydration can become a pretty serious matter. It starts with thirst but gradually escalates to headaches and muscle cramps. It can eventually lead to dizziness, confusion, or even fainting. Your body can survive for weeks without food but only a few days without water.
It's rather unlikely to get into a state of severe dehydration without a significant reason (either because of a sickness or a poorly planned trip to a desert of your choice). Still, as with many other things, dehydration symptoms live on a spectrum. Slight dehydration surely won't kill you, but it's also not particularly good for you either. So let's take a closer look.
Avoid reduced performance & headaches
If you tend to have headaches, feel low on energy, or find it hard to concentrate, you might just be mildly dehydrated. Several studies analyzed the impact of dehydration on physical and mental performance. The results are crystal clear: Dehydration directly impacts how well your body performs. Just 2% dehydration is enough to have a significant impact. Apart from impaired physical performance, it can lead to reduced concentration, alertness, short-term memory, and other cognitive impairments. It does not even stop there. Headache is one of the most common effects of dehydration. There are indications that even migraines might be triggered by it.
Just think of your last hangover and how you had to drag yourself through the day. What if you might be having a mild version of that right now? Why? Because one of the leading causes of the typical hangover symptoms is dehydration.
Bonus tip: If you want to reduce your next hangover, you can undo some damage by drinking water alongside the alcoholic beverages of your choice. Add a big glass before you go to bed, preferably with some electrolytes like magnesium, and you will feel much better the next morning. You are welcome.
Feel more energy and improve your mood
Dehydration can lead to fatigue and confusion. This can increase your level of anxiety. But apart from the negative impacts of dehydration, there are strictly positive effects of drinking water. It seems to seriously boost the metabolic rate (how much energy your body uses in a given time) - up to 30% an hour after drinking 2 cups (around 500ml).
This is another big one, for several reasons. Let's start with a less obvious one: When your body starts to experience signs of dehydration, you will start to feel thirst. The thing is: In our modern life, we conditioned ourselves to ignore thirst pretty much completely. Your body quickly realizes that. It also knows that drinking is just one way to get hydration. Food contains water (in fact, we get around 20-30% of our fluids from food). And it's much harder to ignore hunger than (light) thirst. So what happens is that you will get hungry more easily. Even if you fight the urge, there is a high chance of eating more and gain weight. Remember what we mentioned about the increased metabolic rate? Apart from giving you an energy boost, it also boosts your caloric consumption. So yes, drinking water can help you to actively burn more calories. In addition to this, drinking water will help you feel more satiated, so you will be likely to eat less.
Bonus tip: You can maximize this effect by drinking half an hour before a meal. Also, contrary to popular belief, there seems to be no adverse effect on drinking and eating at the same time. It might even be beneficial (see more below).
Bonus tip #2: This might be obvious, but to further improve this effect, replace sugary sodas with water. Plain water is perfect, but you can also try carbonated water for a change. If you prefer more taste, try infusing your water with fruits or herbs. You might be surprised how much flavor you can get out of a few slices of citrus fruits.
Reduce painful joints
Ever wondered how your bones are connected inside your joints? Your body has a built-in shock absorber called cartilage. It also helps to make movements smoother. And yes, cartilage consists mostly of water.
Improved heart function
Staying hydrated will also make your heart happy. Even mild dehydration can lead to less blood in your body. So your heart has to work harder to compensate. There even seems to be an effect similar to smoking, which leads to your blood vessels constricting (caused by the release of a hormone called vasopressin).
Digest food more easily (and get more nutrients out)
Water plays a huge role in digestion. First of all, it is required to break down food and dissolve the nutrients like vitamins and minerals inside it. It also helps to deliver them to the rest of your body via the bloodstream. Once all that is done, it helps you to get rid of the parts you don't want to keep. Along with fiber, it helps to avoid constipation (in fact, the more fiber you eat, the more water you may want to drink). It even might improve your oral health (because of the amount of saliva in your mouth. This might sound gross, but saliva is actually a good thing).
Reap the benefits
If the benefits are so numerous, then why are so many people still in a constant state of dehydration (According to a study by New York Hospital and Cornell Medical Center, around 75% of Americans might be chronically dehydrated)?
For one, they simply might be unaware. The symptoms can easily be mistaken for other causes. But even if you are aware, you need to know how much you need to drink and remind yourself to actually do it. If you want to learn more about the optimal amount to drink, you can head over to this article, which dives deeper into this topic (https://fluid.faden.cloud/blog/benefits-of-staying-hydrated).
Or, even more comfortable, you can use an app like Fluid. It will help you to calculate the optimal amount based on your individual weight & activity, help you track your progress, and remind you when it's time to drink again. Fluid is free to use and (unlike most other free water tracking apps) does not distract you with banner ads. You can even connect with friends (trust us, the best way to build a habit is to tell others about it).
But no matter which way you choose to stay hydrated: Don't let something as simple as drinking a few more glasses of water drag you down. In fact, treat yourself to a glass of your favorite (non-alcoholic) beverage right now and start to feel the difference.
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