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It’s pretty easy to take water for granted. In fact, here in the United States, it is something we don’t even have to think about. We simply turn on the faucet and water comes out, fresh, clean and ready to drink. It’s sometimes hard to even fathom that for more than a billion people in the world, clean drinking water is a luxury, and access to it is a daily struggle.
Even so, if you are anything like me, there are probably times when you don’t think about water often enough—and perhaps even times when you forget to drink it at all! But the benefits of water go far beyond hydration. Here are eight reasons to drink more water, and a few ideas for sneaking more water into your day.
8 Benefits of Water
Drinking water has many amazing benefits. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water so it’s critical we maintain hydration for good health. Dehydration is very serious and even slight dehydration can lead to increased appetite, moodiness and exhaustion. It’s recommended you get between 7-9 glasses (8 oz) of water per day to keep everything functioning properly, so it’s vital you drink up!
1. Clearer Skin
Drinking plenty of water can help keep your skin clear and bright. It helps your skin cells stay hydrated, giving you a younger, less dry appearance. Water helps with cell turnover, which helps keep your skin free of blemishes. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and water is essential for proper function of all organs.
2. Better Kidney Function
Just like your skin, your kidneys rely on water to help flush toxins out of your body and keep things running smoothly. Water helps prevent UTIs and kidney infections. When you’re dehydrated, your kidneys can suffer greatly, so it’s vital you stay hydrated to keep them functioning properly. Check your hydration levels by the color of your urine, which should be pale yellow (or even clear). Dark yellow or brown urine is indicative you aren’t getting enough water.
3. Better Focus
Yes, water helps your kidneys and skin, but it also helps another one of your most important organs: your brain. People who are hydrated have better concentration and focus. Your brain cells are able to process information more efficiently, resulting in better recall and mental clarity.
4. Weight Loss
It’s no secret water helps with weight loss, which is why we so frequently see it recommended by health magazines, personal trainers and weight loss consultants. Drinking cold water can even help (slightly) boost your calorie burn. Water can help you feel fuller if you drink a glass before meals, making it easier to pass up second helpings or dessert. Especially when combined with a low-carb diet, increasing your water consumption can help accelerate weight loss.
5. Aided Digestion
Water also helps keep everything “moving” in a proper manner. If you have issues with constipation and regularity, water and dehydration might be something to look into and address. Water helps food move through your body, and just like your skin, brain and kidneys, it helps your digestive organs do their jobs properly and efficiently.
6. Fewer Muscle Strains & Better Joint Health
Water keeps your joints lubricated and moving. It can keep your muscles from feeling strained by keeping electrolytes, potassium, and sodium levels regulated. Changes in these levels can lead to cramps and strains, and even injury and damage. Hydration during exercise is especially critical as your body sweats, depleting your water levels.
7. Fight Fatigue
If you feel tired or run down, or if you have frequent headaches, it could be due to dehydration. Often people don’t notice their mood and energy levels shift when they experience a lack of critical moisture. Keep yourself properly hydrated to boost energy levels and keep yourself going all through the day.
8. Money Savings
While your wallet might not be as important as your kidneys and joints, opting for water is one way to keep your cash flowing as well. It’s no secret that sodas and alcohol can add an extra premium to your bill whether you’re at a game, an amusement park, or out at restaurant. Opting for water or bringing your own refillable bottle of water in (which is often allowed) can help save you several dollars a day (at least)!
But I Don’t Like Plain Water….
So, what do you do when water just won’t cut it? Sometimes a glass of water just tastes too darn…well, bland. It’s certainly not as fun to drink water on the beach as it is to drink a margarita. (Although, keep in mind salt and alcohol do not mix well with heat if you’re looking to avoid dehydration!)
All in all, water can be pretty boring. Here are a bunch of great ways to spruce up your water and be sure you’re getting enough hydration this summer and beyond!
Not as exciting as hot chocolate, green tea or coffee, but sometimes water goes down a little easier if it’s warm. Sipping a cup of warm water can help you relax and slow down. It doesn’t have to be scalding hot, but gently warmed water can be something a little different, sip-able, and great for unwinding in front of a movie or while reading the news in the morning.
Just like warm water, changing up the temperature can make all the difference. Add ice or keep a pitcher in the fridge for cold and refreshing water that feels a bit more “special” and less like a chore. Try working your way through a cup of ice cubes if you’re the kind of person who likes to really savor something or if you tend to eat out of boredom.
Herbal teas are usually decaffeinated and they add a little flavor and excitement to your plain old water. You can enjoy lemon verbena, dandelion, burdock, and a myriad of fruit flavors from plum to strawberry to orange blossom. Places like Teavana offer gourmet flavors, but most grocery stores offer a wide selection of various teas. Try using a tea infuser and going for loose tea to really make it an experience. You can also make great herbal iced teas or use the tea to make low-cal, refreshing ice pops!
Infusing water is very popular right now and for good reason! It’s a great way to get enthused about drinking water. You can purchase special infuser bottles that offer methods for adding fruit and herb flavors right to the water as you drink. You’re only limited by your imagination! To get started, try picking a fruit or veggie and an herb and adding it to your water (or go for several).
Try some of these fun combinations…
- Strawberry and basil.
- Raspberry and mint
- Cucumber and Tarragon
- Lemon and cinnamon
- Orange and cayenne
- Mango and white peppercorns
- Apple and ginger
- Blueberry and lemonbalm
- Grapefruit and Thyme
- Watermelon and spearmint
- Cantaloupe and Cilantro
- Peach and Parsley
- Lime and Rosemary
- Cherry and sage
- Pineapple and Stevia
- Pear and Hyssop
- Kiwi and Chamomile
Essential Oil Infusions
As long as you’re using 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils (such as Young Living), you can take them internally by adding a drop or two to a glass of water. Peppermint water can be very soothing to your stomach and aid in digestion. Lemon can add a boost of energy and lavender may help you feel calm and relaxed. Citrus oils don’t react well with plastic, however, so be sure to always use glass or steel containers when you add oils to your water.
Seltzer is a great way to increase your hydration without adding calories or chemicals to your diet. Most seltzers (like LaCroix) are naturally flavored and come in varieties like peach, coconut, lemon and lime. You can even find flavor combinations like blackberry cucumber or strawberry lime. Pour it in a pretty glass, add a lemon or lime twist, and you’ll feel just as fancy as if you were enjoying a cocktail!
Raw Fruits & Veggies
Most fruits and vegetables have high water content and can help boost your hydration levels. Cucumber, lettuce, grapefruit, zucchini, watermelon and grapes are all great options to help you add a little more hydration in your life. Enjoying a yummy dish of melon can seem a lot more fun than just drinking a plain old glass of water!
Broths and Soups
Enjoying soups, particularly of the broth-based variety, can help you stay hydrated as well. Just keep in mind that many soups are very high in sodium. Consider making your own vegetable broth or stock to control the sodium levels and to use as a base for soups and meals.
How To Drink Even More Water!
Check out these four ways to keep water on your radar and help you reach your 7-9 (8 oz) glasses a day, every day.
1. Make a Goal
Just as you would with any goal, make it Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (SMART). Set your hydration goals in increments: Drink 1 cup in the morning at 6 am, another by 9 am, another at noon, and so on. By being specific about times and amounts, your goal can seem easily doable. Make drinking water a regular habit and soon it will become easy.
2. Get a Water Bottle
Get a water bottle you’re excited to use and keep it with you. Put it on your desk, carry it in your bag, and bring it in the car. Watch for BPA-free bottles with a wide mouth so they’re easy to clean. Bottles made of tempered glass or stainless steel are nice choices because they’re pretty indestructible. Whatever you go for, get something you’ll be happy to carry around with you wherever you go.
3. Set an Alarm
If you have a hard time remembering to drink regularly, consider setting an alarm on your phone or set a timer. Make it a habit to drink at mealtimes and then set a gentle reminder to pop up in the morning and afternoon. A friend of mine has a Post-it stuck to her computer monitor that simply reads, “Drink Water.” Every time she looks at it, she takes a sip. Simple! Not only will setting up a reminder help you keep drinking and stay hydrated, but also, if you work at a desk, it can be a nice reminder to get up, walk around and take a break from your computer for a moment.
4. Keep Water Handy
The biggest key to remembering to drink regularly is to just keep water around. Keep it on your desk, in your bag, and in your car. When you’re at a restaurant, ask for a carafe at the table. Fill a pitcher with fruit and water and put it in your fridge, right in the front, so you’ll be reminded every time you open the door. Keep an empty glass on your nightstand and near the sink, so you can get in the habit of taking a drink when you wash your hands or go to bed.
Hydration is so important. So, even though it’s challenging to get enough water (and sometimes hard to be excited about doing it), it’s something necessary to all life. While you’re thinking about and exploring water, consider how lucky we are to have access and options when it comes to drinking. Support charities that are addressing our global water shortage and helping bring safe and clean drinking water to areas in need. Look into ways you can conserve and be mindful of water usage and waste. It is, after all, the very foundation of life on this planet.