It may seem obvious. I mean we all know it; we've been told for years. We should all be drinking between 2 and 3 liters of water a day. It makes sense as after all, humans are made up of around 60% water.
But when you work it out, that means drinking AT LEAST 9 cups of water a day. Do you manage that every day? I know I don't...(and no,cups of coffee don't count, and neither does beer.)
While we know drinking water is good for our overall health, you may be surprised at the impact being sufficiently hydrated has on many different aspects of the way your body (and mind) functions in every way.
So when you're wondering how much water you've had to drink today, chances are it's not enough! Here are five reasons our bodies think we should all be upping our H2O intake.
1. To think straight!
"Our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally. Brain cells require a delicate balance between water and various elements to operate, and when you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted. Your brain cells lose efficiency. Dehydration can impair short-term memory function and the recall of long-term memory."
Joshua Gowin PhD
Although we may not immediately connect the two, the amount of water we drink has a significant impact on the way our brains function. If you're anything like me, when you wake up in the morning the first thing you do is to make yourself a cup of coffee. Yes, this will give you a temporary kick out of the front door, but it will also further dehydrate you. So instead of running for the cafeteria next time you're having a concentration lapse, head to the tap instead!
2. To see straight!
"The eye is surrounded by fluid, which protects it by washing away debris and dust every time we blink. In order to maintain a healthy balance of fluid in the eye, it is important to stay well hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can prevent both your body and your eyes from becoming dehydrated."
Ever had blurry vision in the mornings? While that is partly caused by tiredness, it's also the effect of dehydration (which explains why this is more likely to happen on a hangover). One of the main symptoms of dehydration is blurred vision, so as soon as your eyes start feeling a bit fuzzy it is likely to be a sign that you're not drinking enough of the wet stuff.
3. To sit straight!
"The serious problems of dehydration can include disc problems. The discs between each vertebra in your spine is mostly made of water, so if you're dehydrated the disc shrinks just a little and that can put added pressure on one of your spinal nerves and cause pain. The disc shrinks and presses on the sciatic nerve and the person will have excruciating pain. If someone is chronically dehydrated it can lead to herniated discs and bulging discs because their spine is less stable than normal a person."
Once again if we're having back pain, we may not necessarily connect it to not drinking enough water, but human biology shows this to be the case. Our disks rehydrate every night when we go to sleep provided we drank enough water during the day. When the discs cannot get enough water to rehydrate the inner ring of the disc, there is an uneven distribution of weight on the outer ring which cannot support it. This can lead to pain, swelling, and even ruptures.
4. To avoid unnecessary (and excruciating) pain
"The leading cause of kidney stones is a lack of water. Stones commonly have been found in those that drink less than the recommended eight to ten glasses of water a day. When there is not enough water to dilute the uric acid ( acomponent of urine), the pH level within the kidneys drops and becomes more acidic. An excessively acidic environment in the kidneys is conducive to the formation of kidney stones"."
Anyone who has ever had kidney stones will tell you what a painful experience it is, and although you can't eradicate the chance of getting them completely, it seems that you can cut it significantly simply by drinking more water.
5. To stay looking young
"The fact is that skin is an organ, and just like any other part of the body, your skin is made up of cells. And skin cells, like any other cell in the body, are made up of water. Without water, the organs will certainly not function properly or at their best. If your skin is not getting the sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling."
We've heard models and actors saying in interviews that drinking lots of water is their 'beauty secret', and whilst we don't doubt that they are probably also using a variety of other expensive methods to stay looking that good, staying hydrated is undoubtedly essential for you to stay looking and feeling young.
In many ways, drinking more water is an easy win. It doesn't require a massive change in lifestyle, or spending extra money; it simply requires swapping that tea, coffee or soft drink for a glass of water instead. Since I started writing this I have gone through 3 cups myself, and already I feel 5 years younger! Well, maybe not 5 years but every little bit helps...