There are so many habits that we can work on to improve our health, but sometimes it’s
hard to know where to start! One of the very best moves you can make for your health and
well being is something you already do every day, but there is always room for improvement! Everyone knows that drinking water is crucial, but what are the actual health benefits to drinking more water, and how much SHOULD you be drinking?
Water is arguably the most important substance you will ever put into your body.
Some of the many health benefits of proper hydration are lower blood pressure, keeping your liver
and kidneys healthy, reducing risk of stroke and heart attack, lowering cholesterol, maintaining
electrolyte balance, moisturizing your skin and keeping it clear, keeping your joints supple, and
One huge benefit of drinking more water is that in doing so, you will also decrease your
overall daily calorie intake, along with consuming less salt, sugar, and cholesterol. One study
found that people who increased their daily water intake by 1-3 cups daily decreased their
calorie intake by 68-205. (1) They also decreased their sodium intake by 78-235 milligrams daily.
The participants consumed 5-18 grams less sugar per day, along with 7-21 milligrams less
cholesterol. (1) What a simple and easy way to improve your health!
The same study noted above found that most participants only consumed 4.2 cups of
plain water daily, on average. (1) To put that into perspective, The Institute of Medicine
recommends at least 9 cups of water for women, 13 for men, and even more if you are active. (4)
Dehydration can have noticeable effects on you when you lose as little as 2% of your
body’s water content. It is not uncommon for an athlete to lose as much as 6-10% through
sweat in a single workout. (2) This is exactly why proper rehydration is so important! Some effects
of dehydration in the short term are: hindered body temperature regulation, increased fatigue,
and reduced motivation. Staying properly hydrated throughout a workout can help to keep you
focused, and performing at your best!
In a study of young women, they found that losing as little as 1.36% of the body’s fluids
after exercise is linked to increased frequency of headaches, and impaired concentration and
mood. A similar study in young men made connections between losing 1.59% of body fluids
increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue, and also had detrimental effects on working
Dehydration is linked to headaches and migraines for many people. Several studies
showed promising effects on reducing the intensity and duration of such headaches when
increasing water intake. Dehydration is also linked to constipation problems, and there is a lot
of evidence showing that increasing water intake can help reduce or relieve these symptoms.
Higher fluid intake is also recommended to help prevent kidney stones in individuals who have
previously suffered from this condition. (2)
Another study done by exercise physiologists at the Georgia Institute of Technology
studied athletes to learn more about the effects of dehydration. (3) They studied volunteers who
were made to sweat a lot without hydration. They found that the participants made more
mistakes on simple tasks after losing some of their fluids without replenishing, and also
discovered some measurable changes within the brain using fMRI scans. These researchers
found that when the participants were made to get hot and sweat, and then hydrate, ventricles
in their brains contracted. In contrast, when the participants were made to get hot and sweat,
but not hydrate, the ventricles did the opposite, and actually swelled. They also found changes
in neural signaling in those who were dehydrated when compared to those who were properly
hydrated. The fMRI scan showed that areas of the brain that were associated with doing a task
appeared to activate more intensely when dehydrated, and additional areas that were not
associated with the task were recruited and activated as well. This shows that when
dehydrated, the brain has to work much harder to achieve simple tasks. (3)
While entirely possible to over hydrate, it is highly unusual to do so. When in doubt,
measure it out! Keeping track of your daily water intake even for a short period of time can
help shed some light on your typical hydration status, and help you to be more aware of your
hydration in the future! Here’s to your health!
Written by Mikaela Lake