Many talented coaches and personal trainers have confirmed the benefits of drinking water on and off the field. Players could suddenly go through an unexpected physical performance decrease. There’s apparently nothing wrong with them, and motivation remains unchanged. We may believe all they need is a supplement to increase power and strength. But the answer is sometimes inexpensive and easier to apply: water.
Talented trainers understand how important it is to stay hydrated. After giving their recommendation of increasing hydration, they see a considerable change in physical performance. After experiencing something like that in real life, you start to understand the importance of water. It’s not only meant to calm your thirst, but water is a source of energy and life. Naturally, it contributes to your health in many ways.
Are you drinking enough water?
The answer is: probably not. Most of us are not drinking enough water, and there’s a reason for that. We ate fresh foods when we lived in nature without industrialization, and our human ancestors grew up and evolved for millions of years in that environment. Everything we ate had a high or relatively high water content. At the end of the day, we received enough liquids just by eating.
Nowadays, we have replaced our fresh food sources with things like bread and pasta. We even dehydrate food on purpose, as in dry fruits, herbs, and spices. But our body makeup is still vastly similar to that of our ancestors thousands of years ago. That’s why, in many cases, we feel hungry when we’re actually just dehydrated. Instead of eating another meal, we could try drinking more water. Doing so influences our hunger and food preferences, as scientific studies have pointed out (1).
We live in an industrialized world, and we need to opt for fresh foods as much as possible. But we also need to compensate for the lost hydration in our nutrition by drinking more water.
With that in mind, we will give you five reasons why drinking water is essential for your health and wellbeing. After reading, you will hopefully gain motivation to hit your hydration goals every day.
Here are the top benefits to drinking water:
1. Water activates your energy sources.
You can have enough energy from top-notch nutrition, but it won’t serve you if you’re dehydrated. Athletes are an excellent example in this regard. They follow a strict nutrition plan, but they could reduce 10% of body weight in major athletic events just from sweating. If they don’t address their water loss after competition, their physical fitness can be severely affected. They start to lose endurance with as little as 2% of body water loss. Also, if you’re into sports, water will also help you regulate body temperature in hot environments. It could even increase your motivation levels (2).
In exercise, thirst is a good measure that you’re becoming seriously dehydrated, but you don’t want to reach that far. It’s wiser to drink beyond the thirst threshold to avoid mild dehydration. Hydrating properly would also counter free radical damage after strenuous exercise. Doing so benefits reducing muscle soreness the following day (3).
2. Water boosts your brain function and cognition.
The brain needs nutrition and hydration to function properly. People with severe dehydration may experience confusion and delirium. Similarly, in mild dehydration, you could experience short-term memory problems. You can barely hold your concentration, and your alertness levels start to drop. Why is that? Because even if you’re adequately nourished, water is required to transport those nutrients wherever they need to go inside your body. It’s also essential for activating neurons and their metabolic processes (2).
A research in Appetite evaluated thirst in people compared to their cognitive function. Then, the researchers gave the participants water and repeated the cognitive tests. People who reported feeling thirsty before the intervention significantly improved their cognitive tests after drinking water. In conclusion, the authors stated that mental performance depends significantly on hydration levels–even more than previously believed (4).
3. Water is an affordable solution to gastrointestinal problems.
The small intestine is filled with many things, but we can avoid the graphic details and just say it has a lot of water. This liquid is secreted in some parts of the gastrointestinal tube and absorbed in others. Every day, we absorb an estimated 15 liters of water and other fluids in the GI tract. If you think about that, constipation shouldn’t be such a surprise if you don’t drink enough water (2).
Seniors are the most commonly affected by constipation as a result of dehydration. Studies show that seniors who consume less water are twice as likely to have constipation problems. Keep in mind that water will only solve constipation when it is caused by dehydration (5,6).
4. Water is essential to maintain kidney function.
Our kidneys manage high fluid volumes, even more than the gastrointestinal tract. Every hour, they receive 20% of the volume of blood pumped by the heart. That is around 180 liters of water every day. The kidneys clean the blood from metabolic debris, toxins, excess ions, and metabolites. What would happen if you tried to clean your house with a single glass of water? It would definitely not work.
On eliminating waste products, the kidneys need hydration to flush them out into the urine. Otherwise, kidney function would falter, and the minerals accumulate in collecting tubes. Kidney stones are basically accumulated minerals, and one of the main causes is dehydration (7).
5. Water plays a vital role in your cardiovascular system.
Water volume is essential in different organs, especially your heart and blood vessels, yet they will always try to compensate for the available volume in the circulatory system. They find a way to compensate if you don’t drink enough water and will make an effort to keep you alive. But even after compensating for a low volume of liquid, you will experience many uncomfortable symptoms.
Low hydration can be one of the reasons for that sensation of dizziness after changing your posture. It is called postural hypotension and often happens when you alternate from standing to sitting or when you crouch and straighten up. Drinking enough water not only prevents postural hypotension, it also reduces your heart rate and modulates your blood pressure (2).
You can fast and live several days without food but you can’t do the same with water. This liquid is essential for life, and it activates your body and metabolism in many ways.
It’s essential for your cardiovascular system. It delivers nutrients and activates neuronal processes in the brain. It promotes energy production in your muscles and is required for physical performance. It is also an affordable solution to gastrointestinal problems and a preventative strategy against kidney stones.
So, if you’re not eating fresh foods with high water content all day and all night, you probably need more water than you think. If you raise your awareness, you will notice your body sending signals. After drinking more water and experiencing the difference, you will realize the importance of this vital fluid in our modern world.
There are many benefits of drinking water. Want to learn how to check your at-home water quality? Click here.
- McKay, N. J., Belous, I. V., & Temple, J. L. (2018). Increasing water intake influences hunger and food preference, but does not reliably suppress energy intake in adults. Physiology & behavior, 194, 15-22.
- Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition reviews, 68(8), 439-458.
- Paik, I. Y., Jeong, M. H., Jin, H. E., Kim, Y. I., Suh, A. R., Cho, S. Y., … & Suh, S. H. (2009). Fluid replacement following dehydration reduces oxidative stress during recovery. Biochemical and biophysical research communications, 383(1), 103-107.
- Rogers, P. J., Kainth, A., & Smit, H. J. (2001). A drink of water can improve or impair mental performance depending on slight differences in thirst. Appetite.
- Lindeman, R. D., Romero, L. J., Liang, H. C., Baumgartner, R. N., Koehler, K. M., & Garry, P. J. (2000). Do elderly persons need to be encouraged to drink more fluids?. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 55(7), M361-M365.
- Robson, K. M., Kiely, D. K., & Lembo, T. (2000). Development of constipation in nursing home residents. Diseases of the colon & rectum, 43(7), 940-943.
- Bouby, N., Clark, W. F., Roussel, R., Taveau, C., & Wang, C. J. (2014). Hydration and kidney health. Obesity Facts, 7(Suppl. 2), 19-32.