Back in school, we all learned that our planet comprises 70% water (though with the whole global warming threat, I wonder what the percentage shift will be 10 years from now). It’s a sweet irony that the inhabitants of this wonderful blue planet–humans–are also made up of primarily water.
Water is not only the main constituent of cells and tissues in our bodies, it is also present in various life organs, such as the brain, the heart, the lungs, and the kidneys. Water is what helps flush out the toxins from your body; it is what helps keep your brain ticking.
Don’t you think water must be somewhat of a magic potion? Well, guess what–it is! Studies have established the benefits of hydrating our bodies on a regular basis. To understand these benefits, let us first take a look at the consequences of not consuming enough water. Here are just five of them:
- Constipation: Water hydrates and lubricates the life organs of the human body. It also helps move the food from your stomach to the large intestine (colon). When the body does not contain enough water, it starts to dehydrate these organs. When the body is dehydrated, these organs go on survival mode and start absorbing whatever water they can find. The colon soaks up all the water that is made available to it while leaving the food waste (stool) dry and makes it difficult to pass. So, please drink plenty of water to relieve at least some of your life’s “hardships” 😉
Note: It is imperative to note though that water alone cannot relieve constipation; equally important is the intake of dietary fiber and adequate physical exercise.
- Toxin Build-up: Related to the aforementioned consequence is the build-up of toxins in your body due to dehydration. When bodily waste is not moving in an appropriate and timely manner in and out of the organs, toxins start to accumulate. In the absence of enough water, the kidney is unable to filter the toxins from your blood and urine. Over time, this compromises your immune system and affects your health adversely. We don’t want that, do we now?
- Headaches: Certain headaches (including hangovers) are a result of dehydration. As with every other life organ, the brain is also made primarily of water and requires water to function properly. When your body is dehydrated, the brain shrinks, triggering off the neurotransmitters signaling pain. In addition, dehydration also lowers your blood volume. As a result, your brain receives less-than-optimum oxygen blood supply, thus triggering a more intense reaction (pain).
- Fatigue: With reduced supply of water in the body, the life organs work extra hard to maintain their functions. This takes a toll on your energy deposit and causes fatigue.
- Calories!: Drinking water satiates your thirst but adds no calories (unless of course, you are adding artificial flavors or sweeteners to it). A trick many weight watchers swear by is to drink half a glass of water 30 minutes before their meal. The water fills up the stomach and prevents them from overeating. Now that’s a side-effect I am willing to suffer.
Now, flip these aforementioned consequences (there are more!) on their heads, and you are face-to-face with the wonderful benefits of drinking enough water every day.
This begs the question:
How Much Water Should I Drink Every Day?
To be honest, there are quite a few recommendations floating around the internet. The most-accepted one is the 8 by 8 rule–drink eight 8-fl. ounce glasses (approximately, 1.8 liters) of water per day. And trust me, it isn’t as difficult as you think. As long as you promise to not give up. In fact, I have put together a simple tracker to help you track your daily intake of water.
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It’s downloadable and it’s free!
Now, let’s get to the crux of the matter, shall we?
How Can I Meet My Daily Water Intake Requirement?
How Can I Stay Hydrated?
How Can I Drink More Water?
It does not take a lot of effort to take care of yourself once you put your heart to it. Here are five simple ways you can add more fluid to your diet every day.
- Set goals: Make “drink 64 fl. oz. water” one of your daily goals. Set alarms on your phone. Or, how about those awesome smartphone apps that help you track your water intake. If you are a physical notebook kinda person, add “drink 64 fl. oz. water” to your To-Do list on high priority. Or, use sticky notes reminding you to stay hydrated around places you spend most of your time–your office desk, your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror…the options are totally up to you.
- Build it into your daily routine: Adding the daily essential tasks–such as drinking enough water–is the easiest way for you to stay on track. Setting goals is not enough unless you work towards achieving these goals. So, once you have set the goal of staying hydrated, remember to build it into your daily routine. For example, keep a bottle of water on your night stand. As soon as you wake up in the morning, drink it up! Keep a reusable water bottle in your handbag, on your desk, in your car. And then throughout the day, set alarms on your phone to remind you to drink water.
- Include other sources and forms of water in your diet: Drinking water need not be a boring habit. Personally I love it in its purest form. But for those who do not enjoy drinking plain old water–they can eat their water! There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that can help you keep up with your daily fluid requirements. These include water-rich foods, such as iceberg lettuce, watermelon, cucumber, pineapple, etc. You can include these foods in your diet in various forms. For example, if you can not bring yourself to drink the recommended 64 fl. oz. of water every day, drink up at least half of the amount, and for the other half, substitute with water-rich foods. The only catch is that it will be difficult to track your water consumption.
Before you go, don’t forget to download your free daily water intake tracker!