Nothing beats a glass of ice-cold water on a hot day. Water does more than quench your thirst, however. In fact, water flushes out toxins, aids digestion, makes up your mucous membranes, and carries nutrients to cells. Problem is, most of us don't drink enough of it.
The National Institute of Medicine recommends 9 to 13 cups of water per day to function your best. And here are seven more reasons to drink up.
1. Boost fat burning.
Participants who drank two, 8-ounce glasses of water before each meal lost about five more pounds than those who did not drink water, according to a study from the department of human nutrition, foods and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. "Water provides a feeling of fullness and helps the body convert fat to energy," says Dr. Wayne Andersen, author of “Dr. A's Habits of Health.”
2. Recharge your immune system.
Staying hydrated by drinking water helps your body fight off infection by boosting your immune system. "Water helps move fluid throughout the body and influences the hydration of the lymphatics, also known as our second circulatory system," says Andersen. The lymphatics help remove toxins and dysfunctional cells out of the system, thereby cleansing the body.
3. Prevent skin disorders.
If you're prone to psoriasis or eczema, a lack of water not only further dehydrates the skin but can also compromise the skin's barrier function, says Dr. Kenneth Beer, dermatologist and owner of ScientificSkin.com. Dry skin can also cause an increased risk of bacterial infection that you would normally be able to fight off. "When your skin is dry, the mucous membrane cracks and allows bacteria to enter," says Dr. Beer.
4. Lift brain fog.
Approximately 85 percent of your brain is comprised of water. So it makes sense that a water shortage to your brain can contribute to mental fogginess, says Dr. Sasson E. Moulavi, board certified bariatric physician and the medical director of Smart for Life Weight Management Centers, Florida. "When you're dehydrated you don't function as well mentally."
5. Banish tension headaches.
Instead of reaching for the acetaminophen to get rid of your mid-afternoon headache, drink a few glasses of water first. You may not need the meds. "Headaches are often the direct result of dehydration," says Dr. Andersen. Tiny, dehydrated blood vessels in the brain can go into spasms, which create headaches ranging from dull aches to full-blown migraines.
6. Ease arthritis pain.
Synovial fluid surrounds the ends of joints and acts as a lubricant. Joints depend on hydration. "When you're dehydrated the joint surfaces are not as spongy and cushiony, which puts more wear and tear on joint surfaces," says Dr. Andersen. Dehydrated joints cause these surfaces to rub together, resulting in pain.
Your body's cells depend on water to produce energy, says Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and author of the best-selling book From Fatigued to Fantastic!. "Even a slight drop in dehydration levels causes an energy drop," says Teitelbaum. So the next time you feel your energy lag, bypass the candy bar, and down a couple of glasses of water instead.