Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just Drink The Water...

We all know that water is good for us, but often the reasons are a little fuzzy. And even if we know why we should drink water, it's not a habit that many people form. But there are some very powerful reasons to drink lots of water every day, and forming the habit isn't hard, with a little focus.

The thing about it is, we don't often focus on this habit. We end up drinking coffee, and lots of soda, and alcohol, not to mention fruit juices and teas and milk and a bunch of other possibilities. Or just as often, we don't drink enough fluids, and we become dehydrated -- and that isn't good for our health.

I've made drinking water a daily habit. Although, I will admit that a couple of years ago I was more likely to drink anything but water. Now I don't drink anything but water, except for maybe an occasional cup of juice. I love it.

Here are 8 powerful reasons to drink water (with tips on how to form the water habit afterwards):

  1. Weight loss. Water is one of the best tools for weight loss, first of all because it often replaces high-calorie drinks like soda and juice and alcohol with a drink that doesn't have any calories. But it's also a great appetite suppressant, and often when we think we're hungry, we're actually just thirsty. Water has no fat, no calories, no carbs, no sugar. Drink plenty to help your weight-loss regimen.
  2. Headache cure. Another symptom of dehydration is headaches. In fact, often when we have headaches it's simply a matter of not drinking enough water. There are lots of other causes of headaches of course, but dehydration is a common one.
  3. Healthy skin. Drinking water can clear up your skin and people often report a healthy glow after drinking water. It won't happen overnight, of course, but just a week of drinking a healthy amount of water can have good effects on your skin.
  4. Digestive problems. Our digestive systems need a good amount of water to digest food properly. Often water can help cure stomach acid problems, and water along with fiber can cure constipation (often a result of dehydration).
  5. Cleansing. Water is used by the body to help flush out toxins and waste products from the body. This can also help prevent the onset of colds, and other illnesses.
  6. Cancer risk. Related to the digestive system item above, drinking a healthy amount of water has also been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer by 45%. Drinking lots of water can also reduce the risk of bladder cancer by 50% and potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  7. Better exercise. Being dehydrated can severely hamper your athletic activities, slowing you down and making it harder to lift weights. Exercise requires additional water, so be sure to hydrate before, during and after exercise.
  8. Clarity of mind. Water can reduce stress within your body (after it has cleansed out all the toxins) and provides for better thinking, clarity, and mental concentration. Who doesn't want to be smarter?

How to form the water habit…

So you're convinced that water is healthier, but you'd like to know more about how to make drinking water a daily habit.

Here are some tips that have helped me:

  • How much water? This is a debatable question. What's clear is that the old recommendation of "eight 8-ounce glasses a day" isn't right, for several reasons: that amount includes all dietary water intake, including food and non-water beverages; it also ignores a person's body weight, which is an important factor in figuring the amount; it also varies if you are sick or exercise. It's also not good to just drink when you're thirsty -- you're already dehydrated by then. Best is to form a routine: drink a glass when you wake up, a glass with each meal, a glass in between meals, and be sure to drink before, during and after exercise. Try to generally keep yourself from getting thirsty. A good guideline…drink ½ your body weight in oz. each day.
  • Carry a refillable water bottle with you at ALL times. A lot of people find it useful to get a big BPA free plastic or stainless steel drinking bottle, fill it with water, and carry it around with them all day. I like to keep a glass of water at my desk, and I drink from it all day long. When it's empty, I fill it up again, and keep drinking. I also put a glass of water on my nightstand so I can drink a glass f water before I even get out of bed in the morning.
  • Set a reminder. Set your watch to beep at the top of each hour, or set a periodic computer reminder, so that you don't forget to drink water.
  • Substitute water. If you would normally get a soda, coffee, or an alcoholic beverage, get a glass of water instead. Try sparkling water instead of alcohol at social functions with a slice of lime or lemon to add flavor color to your glass.
  • Filter. Instead of spending a fortune on bottled water, invest in a filter for your home faucet. It'll make tap water taste like bottled, at a fraction of the price.
  • Exercise. Exercising can help make you want to drink water more. It's not necessary or ideal to drink sports drinks like Gatorade when you exercise, they are often loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. Just drink water. If you're going to exercise, be sure to drink water a couple hours ahead of time, so that it will get through your system in time, and again, drink during and after exercise as well. Another tip…on days that you exercise vigorously, add an additional 32 oz of water to your goal of “½ your body weight in oz.” water intake.
  • Track it. It often helps, when forming a new habit, to keep track of it -- it increases awareness and helps you ensure that you're staying on track. Keep a little log (it can be done on an index card or a notebook), which can be as simple as a tick mark for each glass of water you drink. If you track your food intake as well, track your water intake right along with it.

Now, I know a lot of you are thinking...

What about flavored water? Water with lemon? Bottled fruit water? Vitamin water? Powder packets to add to my water?? Most of these are loaded with sugar, artificial, and manufactured ingredients...none of which you want to be putting into your body.

Seriously, just drink the WATER. Plain and simple. You'll be glad you did.

Adapted from an article by Leo Babauta at Dumb Little Man


Brian Dokter said...

Love it. Great content, great ideas. Now if people would just listen!

Kathy said...

I live in an area with flouridated water. I don't think that is good for me, but haven't found a filter that filters out the flouride. Are you familiar with one you would recommend?

Anna said...

I love the way I feel when I'm drinking lots of water!

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

I am blessed to live on top of the second biggest aquifer in the world, and I just use a simple Brita pitcher to filter it. - I LOVE drinking water!

Stacy said...

Drinking a lot of water does make me feel better, but it also increases my trips to the bathroom so much that I usually give up after a few days of the increased water intake. Will your body adjust to the increase in water or is it just something that goes along with the increased intake?