Here's why you should be drinking more water

Drinking water is vital for your body and brain—here are six reasons why you should be making sure you're fully hydrated

By Marissa Laliberte and Lindsay Tigar

Studies show that drinking enough water fends off health problems from head to toe. How much water you should drink depends on many factors: your weight, the climate where you live and how often you exercise. The old rule of thumb of eight, eight-ounce glasses a day isn’t a bad place to start.

The clearest sign that you’re well hydrated is transparent yellow or pale urine. If yours is a darker yellow, you probably need to drink more water. An even better gauge is how you feel. Water can be a potent elixir for your mind and body. Here’s a look at the ways being well hydrated can help your health.

 

1. You'll have lots of energy

Water helps keep up a steady flow of nutrients into your cells, which boosts your energy. When you’re dehydrated, this flow is hampered as cell membranes become less permeable, affecting your physical and mental performance so you feel sluggish. This is according to a review of hydration research conducted by scientists at the University of North Carolina and Tufts University, in the US.

 

2. You'll feel stronger when you work out

Water helps your muscles keep the right balance of electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, to function properly. Without water, your muscles can be more prone to cramping. Research suggests that even low levels of dehydration may impair physical performance.

 

3. You might lose weight

A new study from the University of Illinois involving more than 18,000 adults found that when people increased their daily water intake by one to three cups (on top of the four they drank on average), they ate less: Their food intake dropped by as much as 205 calories a day.

 

4. Your memory may improve

Your brain is hugely dependent on fluid—all those synapses and neurons need liquid to fire properly. According to a review published in the journal Nutrients, studies have consistently found that memory and attention improve in children after they take a drink of water. The research is less clear whether this holds true for adults.

 

5. You'll kick cold symptoms more easily

There’s a reason your doctor tells you to drink more when you’re coming down with something. Your body has to launch an attack against germs when you’re sick, and your cells need more fluid to keep up with the demand. Drinking water also helps to loosen mucus and keep your nose and throat moist.

 

6. You'll keep things regular

“Water interacts with dietary fiber in the digestive tract to bulk stools,” says Jordan J Karlitz, MD, FACG, professor of clinical medicine at Tulane Cancer Center, Louisiana. By staying hydrated, you can reduce your risk of constipation.

 

Tired of drinking water?

Consider upping your hydration game by making your “brew” sparkling or fruit flavoured—but be sure not to add any artificial sugars, and steer clear of tonic water, which contains added sodium and sugar. You can also munch on fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, and cherries.

Herbal teas, milk, and sports drinks can also help you to stay hydrated so long as they’re not overly caffeinated or sugary.