It’s about time for water to get its due. After all, water is the only fluid that you truly can’t live without. Every cell in your body depends on it to function properly. In fact, your body processes about two to three quarts a day to transport nutrients to where they’re needed, get rid of body wastes, regulate temperature, support chemical reactions, and perform other critical tasks.
That’s why drinking water is so important. If you don’t replenish your internal water supply, you can easily become dehydrated-which in turn prevents your body from performing as it should. This is more of a problem for women than for men, because, unlike men, women tend to have more body fat than muscle. And body fat doesn’t hold water as well as muscle.
Benefits by the Glassful
Clearly, water plays a vital role in keeping all of your body’s systems running smoothly. But this versatile nutrient can do a whole lot more for your good health. Here are some examples.
- Water burns fat. Like every other chemical reaction in your body, fat-burning can occur only in the presence of water. And some scientists believe that running low on H2O can actually cause your body to store fat.
- Water satisfies your appetite. Water takes up a lot of room in your stomach, so you feel full and don’t want to eat as much. And you won’t find a better “diet drink” than water: It contains no calories or fat.
- Water quashes cravings. Sometimes what you interpret as a hunger pang is really your body telling you that it’s thirsty. Try sipping a glass of water before you raid the refrigerator-your urge to eat may subside within minutes.
- Water combats the effects of stress. Stress can really do a number on your body. Staying hydrated keeps your body’s systems in balance and counteracts stress “symptoms” such as perspiration, dry mouth, and heart palpitations.
- Water fends off fatigue. If you feel like you’re running on empty, maybe you need to fill up on fluids. Tiredness is a common-though often unrecognized-sign of dehydration.
- Water boosts your brainpower. Dehydration can also leave you with a bad case of mental fuzzies. In fact, some researchers have suggested that too little water in your body can cause your brain to shrink ever so slightly, affecting your ability to think and concentrate.
- Water turns back the clock. In stead of spending a small fortune on facial creams and lotions, generously sip Nature’s own beauty fluid. Water helps fend off wrinkles and other signs of aging, leaving your skin smooth and supple.
- Water keeps you moving. Your body uses water as a natural lubricant. It cushions your joints and helps them stay limber so you don’t stiffen yup like a statue.
- Water douses urinary tract infections. In a survey of 16,000 women, 82 percent named water as the most effective home remedy for bladder infections, the most common type of urinary tract infection (UTI). Doctors agree that drinking plenty of fluids can help flush UTI causing bacteria out of your system.
- Water staves off colon cancer. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have uncovered a possible link between water consumption and colon cancer. In a survey they conducted, women who drank more than five glasses of water a day had about half the risk of colon cancer of women who drank less than two glasses of water a day.
Getting Your Fill
To replenish the water your body uses up, you need to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. And we’re talking water here-not Diet Coke, coffee, or other popular drinks. Many of the bottled beverages on the market contain sodium and caffeine, which are diuretics. You may not notice it, but they’ll dehydrate, rather than hydrate, you.
“You do get water through certain foods, too, such as fruits and vegetables, which are about 90 percent water, and your body chips in another 1/2 cup or so as a by-product of metabolism, your body’s calorie-burning mechanism. But that’s not enough. You should try to drink 64 ounces of water every day.
Tips to make drinking water, an enjoyable habit
If downing 64 ounces of water daily seems hard to swallow, relax. With the following strategies recommended by nutrition experts, drinking water will become an enjoyable habit.
- Drink up when you wake up. Start your day with a glass of water. It will help make up for the fluids you lost while you were sleeping.
- Contain yourself. Here’s and easy way to keep track of your daily water intake: Invest in a 32 ounce container that you can carry with you as you go about your daily business and can refill throughout the day.
- Sip, don’t gulp. Take just a little bit of water at a time. If you try to down all 64 ounces in one, two, or even three sittings, you’ll get tired of it mighty quickly.
- Beat thirst to the punch. Don’t wait until you feel parched to start sipping. By the time your thirst mechanism kicks in, you’re already well on your way to empty. In fact, you can lose as much as 2 percent of your body weight through perspiration or urination before you get the urge to drink something.
- Consider the conditions. There are times when you may need to increase your water intake beyond the usual 64 ounces a day. For instance, to stay hydrated during a workout, you should drink a large glass of water 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, then take a few sips every 15 minutes or so while you exercise. Likewise, you should up your ounces of H2O if you’re sick, pregnant, or breastfeeding; if you spend a lot of time in a heated or air-conditioned environment; or if you’re traveling by plane. (The re-circulated air in the cabin of the plane can easily leave you dehydrated.)