If you read my other blog post about drinking water, you will already be aware that drinking water can help to increase your kidney function. Our kidneys work very hard to filter our fluids and to take out all of the toxins and waste from circulating around in our bodies. When we are taking in extra toxins, our kidneys have to work even harder. That is why many people get hung over after a night of drinking alcohol. The kidneys can't keep up with the amount of filtering that they have to do, so things get through and circulate back through our body until they get back to the kidneys. This leaves you feeling nauseous, achy, or may give you a headache. Drinking water helps to dilute the toxin filled fluids before they reach your kidneys, making it easier for them to do their job. Drinking water every day will help to keep your kidneys operating well, and you should be drinking extra water anytime you do anything that releases more toxins or waste into your system than usual. This includes drinking, working out, eating unhealthy foods, etc.
First of all, I will start off by saying that drinking water itself may not cause you to lose any weight. The way that it can help is by replacing or diluting other beverages. When people switch to water, they tend to stop drinking as many sugary drinks like soda or juice. The decrease in the more unhealthy choices is what will cause you to drop some pounds, particularly if you are used to drinking large amounts of other beverages. Drinking a full glass of water before meals can also help you to feel fuller, meaning that you are less likely to overeat, and can help to decrease snacking throughout the day.
Skin Care and Aging
We already know that drinking water can help to flush toxins and waste from your system. One way that you can see the benefit of that is by looking at your skin. People who begin regularly drinking enough water will generally begin to notice a difference in a couple of weeks or so. The skin tends to have more glow or radiance to it. It can also help with elasticity which helps to decrease signs of aging. Proper hydration can also help to decrease dark circles or sunken skin around the eyes.
Drinking water can help to lubricate your joints. We have a thick, gel-like substance in our joints that helps to cushion and lubricate them. As we get older, the gel tends to dry out, causing joint pain and lower mobility. After a couple of weeks of adding more water to your diet, you should begin to see a difference in your joint health. The gel-like substance begins to get rehydrated and work more effectively. It is like adding water to a sponge.
If you aren't used to drinking water throughout the day, getting into the habit can be tough. Here are some suggestions for drinking more water:
- Drink a glass of water with every meal- If you eat 3 meals a day, that is already 3 glasses of water in a day. This is also a good time to drink water because it aids in digestion.
- Keep a glass of water next to your bed at night- It is a good idea to drink a glass of water before bed, and another when you wake up. I recommend drinking a glass before you go to bed, then refilling it and keeping it next to your bed. When you wake up, a full glass is right there waiting for you. If you tend to wake up throughout the night, you can also take sips of water, as we tend to get dehydrated when we sleep.
- Keep water bottles filled- I recommend getting at least 2 or 3 reusable water bottles and keeping them filled up in your fridge. If the bottle is already filled up, it is easier to grab and take with us. If we are in a hurry, we are less likely to go to the trouble of filling the bottle. Each night, refill each of the bottles that you used and have them ready for the next day.
- Flavor your water- If you are used to drinking other beverages, drinking plain water can be difficult for some. Try adding in fresh fruit, mint, cucumber, essential oils (make sure they are safe for consumption first), or other natural flavors. Infused water has been very popular this year, and is a great way to enjoy staying hydrated.
- Combine it with other habits- Do you have other things that you do habitually during the day? Try taking a bottle of water with you. If you take time to read every day, try setting a glass of water next to yourself and making sure to finish it before you are done reading. If you relax in front of the TV, grab some water and make it a point to drink some during every commercial break. Try to incorporate water into habits that you already have, and it will be easier to make drinking water a good habit too.
How Much Should You Be Drinking?
There are a lot of people out there with a lot of different suggestions as to how much water you should be drinking. I have heard some theories that are absolutely absurd. Here is the thing, different people may need more or less water than others. You may even need more or less depending on the day and your activity level. Here are some tips for making sure that you are well hydrated:
- Drink extra water if you are sweating. You are losing fluids, you need to replace them.
- Drink when you are thirsty. If you are feeling thirsty, drink water. Pretty simple.
- Pay attention to your urine. The more you drink, the more you will have to urinate. Paying attention to the color of your pee can help you to see how hydrated you are. You should always be drinking enough water, that your urine is clear rather than yellowish. The more color there is, the more concentrated it is, and the more you need to drink water. If your urine is clear, you are probably good.
- Don't force yourself to drink. If you are feeling waterlogged, you don't need to drink more water. You can prevent this waterlogged feeling by spreading out your water throughout the day rather than chugging down a glass in a short space of time. Sipping water is good for you.
- You can have too much water! Some of the more ridiculous theories I have heard have to do with drinking far more water than you are able to process. This can have the opposite effect as a lot of the benefits above. Significantly over-drinking water can cause damage to your kidneys, headaches, nausea and vomiting, coma, seizures, and muscle cramps. Getting to this point requires regularly drinking far too much water. Use common sense, follow some of the tips above, and listen to your body to avoid over hydration.
On a hot summer day, many people like to reach for a refreshing soda. But how refreshing is it really? Soda doesn't actually replace any lost water from your body. In fact, if it has caffeine, it is actually dehydrating you further. If you are thirsty, soda can actually make you more thirsty. An average 12 oz. soda contains about 150 calories which mostly come from sugar. Finally, soda can wreak havoc on your teeth. Between the sugar and the acid in it, soda can cause the enamel on your teeth to break down causing more cavities and tooth decay.
Coffee and Tea
There are actually some great health benefits to both coffee and tea. The biggest problem with them is the caffeine content. As we learned above, caffeine is a diuretic which can aid in dehydration. Drinking water first thing in the morning can help you to feel more energized without the caffeine.
Many generations ago people drank wine and beer because the drinking water was unsafe. Most water was riddled with diseases which could be killed by adding alcohol. Now we have much better options when it comes to our water. So why should you reach for a cold glass of water before that ice cold beer on a hot day? Like caffeine, alcohol dehydrates you. If you are hot and thirsty, drinking alcohol will only increase your thirst. It is also very hard on your liver and kidneys which need water to function properly. So you are increasing the work load for the kidneys and decreasing their ability to do the work. If you choose to drink alcohol, it is best to match 1 glass of water for every glass of alcohol to keep your kidneys functioning well.
Fruit juice can be very beneficial for you, as long as there hasn't been a lot of sugar added. Most fruit juices have so much sugar in them, that they can make you gain weight and break down your tooth enamel causing cavities. Eating the actual fruit is much better for you. You can also add fresh fruit to your water to give it that fruit flavor.
Milk has a few benefits to it, however research is showing that it is not as beneficial as we once believed it to be. But that is a whole other blog post. Milk also has a fairly high number of calories, so it is not as good for those trying to lose weight. It will help you to stay fairly hydrated though.