One of the most overlooked, but simplest to implement positive changes to your health is making sure you are properly hydrated. The benefits of adequate hydration are numerous and often very powerful.
Some of the major benefits include:
Increased mental performance.
As our brains are 85% water, poor hydration can lead to lack of concentration and mental fogginess. Even small levels of dehydration can have a significant effect on mood and cognitive ability.
Increased physical performance.
It has been shown that an individual’s ability to exercise is decreased when as little as 2% dehydration is present. At 5% dehydration performance has been shown to decrease to as little as 30%. Staying properly hydrated will allow the individual to continue to perform at their peak level.
Furthermore dehydration can make it easier for our muscles to overheat, especially in warm conditions. If this happens the muscles can cramp and seize up.
Maintains a strong metabolism.
Many of the functions of your metabolism rely on a sufficient supply of water. In fact in 2007 a group of researchers in Germany observed that the functions of the metabolism increased by an average of 24% for an hour after drinking 500ml of water.
Helps to keep breath fresh.
Our saliva has an antibacterial effect that helps keep our breath fresh for longer. However when dehydrated the body is unable to produce sufficient saliva which can result in bad breath.
Feel fuller longer
A lot of what we think of as hunger is actually thirst. Drinking water regularly can offset that sensation and make watching what we eat that much easier. Also water will react with certain foods such as oats and expand them which again can lead to the sensation of being more satisfied.
Keep your skin looking young
Though proper hydration cannot turn back the hands of time it is still useful for keeping your skin looking it’s best. Dehydration will cause skin to look more dry and wrinkled. Taking on sufficient water will significantly lessen the effects of this.
Helps your kidneys to function properly
A lot of the waste products in our body are water-soluble. This means that sufficient hydration is required in order for them to pass through the kidneys and be efficiently excreted from the body.
Helps keep you regular.
Along with fibre water is the most important thing to keep your bowels ticking along properly. When dehydrated your body will attempt to get water from wherever it can and will literally leech water from your stools. This can lead to constipation. Proper hydration can help to prevent this.
So as you can see, there are many benefits to drinking water and these aren’t even all of them. But how much water should you be drinking?
The standard recommendation is 8 glasses a day but I would put that down as a minimum. My own recommendation would be to have 30ml per kg of bodyweight as standard and then add in a further 1l to 1.5l if you are exercising.
So for someone who is 80kg and exercising hard you would have 2.4l on non-exercise days and up to 3.9l on days where exercising.
One final note, our body’s mechanism to tell us that we are thirsty means we are already dehydrated. So the best approach is to sip water regularly throughout the day and never let this happen.