The Health Benefits of Drinking Water

My esthetician recently told me to drink more water. I carry around a 40oz Hydro Flask with me wherever I go and make sure to drink it down every day, plus several cups of herbal tea. I needed to drink more than that?! She explained that I was experiencing dry skin because I wasn’t hydrated enough.

The research on whether or not hydration improves skin appearance is mixed; however, hydration has so many other proven health benefits that I certainly don’t mind throwing back a few extra glasses.

Why We Need Water

Water keeps our bodies juicy. It is a major component of the synovial fluid that provides cushioning for our joints. It supports healthy collagen, cognitive performance, gastrointestinal function, kidney and heart health. We need water to cry, to swallow, to help us get rid of waste products, to regulate body temperature, and even to keep our teeth cleaner (1, 2)!

Drinking water and staying hydrated also improves muscle function and helps the blood pump through the vessels more easily. By staying hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard (3)!

Water Flushes the Toxins Out

Estheticians who tell us to drink more water for skin benefits may be onto something. Water helps the body flush toxins from the blood and the cells. It can help clean out the bacteria and waste that can affect the appearance of skin. Without enough water, things tend to dry up, which might cause us to appear dull and aged, just like that plant you forgot to water. In my opinion, being healthy on the inside improves our appearance on the outside.

Think of the toilet: a toilet bowl needs water to flush waste. If you have a dry toilet bowl, the waste won’t go down very easily and there will for sure be a lot of residue (sorry for the visual!).

What Counts Towards Water Intake?

I personally believe that straight up water is best. Herbal teas also provide a lot of water as well as fruits and vegetables (especially watery fruits like watermelon!). Some say 1-2 cups of coffee even counts, but I say nay to that. Caffeine can dehydrate us because it increases urine output. Alcohol does the same. I’m not saying you have to give up caffeine and alcohol, just drink extra water with your cup of joe to compensate. You’ll also want to sip a little extra H2O to compensate for salty snacks and sweating.

How to Drink More Water

For those who don’t usually drink a lot of water, it may be a conscious effort at first. Set an alarm to remind you to take a swig every 20 minutes. Put your water bottle next to your computer screen at work as a visual cue. Drink water at stoplights on your commute. Pour your filtered water over fresh fruit and drink it out of a wine glass. Make your water fancy!

The nice thing about getting into a routine of drinking more water is that your body starts to crave more when you drink more. My friends always make fun of me for carrying around my signature water bottle wherever I go. It goes into the movie theater with me (shh!), to friends’ houses, to appointments – I cannot live comfortably without my sidekick water bottle.

When to Drink Water

Yes, there is a proper time to drink water. A great time to get in a good dose of water is right when you get up in the morning. Your body has been deprived of water all night, so drinking a full glass of water first thing in the morning is not only a great way to wake up, but it replenishes the cells and gets those toxins moving towards the exit. Drinking water is a great self-care ritual.

A good rule of thumb is not to drink liquids 30 minutes before eating and an hour after eating. Your stomach contains acid and enzymes vital for digesting food. Drinking too close to or during eating can dilute the acid and enzymes, making it harder to digest.

How Much Water Should We Drink?

Until you pee clear. That’s pretty much how I gauge water intake. If your urine is yellow, your body is telling you it needs more water. Another way to measure how much to drink is to consume at least half of your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water (at a minimum).

Note: For people with kidney, heart, or liver disease, talk to your doctor before  increasing your water intake.

Need some ideas for fancy-ing up your water? Try the recipe below!

 

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Bowl of Fruit and NutsGolden Milk and Almonds