"Drink more water." This common-sense health advice has been drilled into your brain ad nauseam. But do you really know why you're supposed to be guzzling H20 like it's your job? What good does "hydrating" really do? As it turns out, a lot. From clearer skin to increased energy to weight loss, we reveal nine compelling reasons to start drinking more of the clear stuff.
Forget about those pricey face creams; for radiant skin, chug more water. Just like any organ of your body, your skin is composed of cells, and in order to function optimally, cells need-you guessed it-plenty of water. Dehydration can lead to dry, dull skin, which can make wrinkles seem more prominent. In addition to staying hydrated, apply a moisturizing cream every morning to banish dryness.
Feeling, er, stopped up? Drinking plenty of fluids can help promote better digestion. Staying hydrated is one of the single best things you can do for your digestive system. H20 keeps things moving along, so to speak-it helps dissolve fats and soluble fibers, allowing these substances to pass through the digestive tract more easily. A good rule of thumb? If your pee is clear, you're probably well hydrated.
Another reason to up your water intake: It may help you shed a few pounds, studies have found. Because we often confuse thirst with hunger, staying hydrated can suppress false hunger pangs and prevent overeating. In fact, a 2010 study found that dieters who drank two cups of water prior to eating lost more weight than those who didn't drink water before their meals. The next time you feel the urge to snack, try drinking a big glass of water beforehand-it might just curb your craving.
Feeling sluggish? Rather than reaching for a cup of coffee, down some water for an all-natural energy boost. Even mild dehydration can alter a person's mood, energy level, and ability to think clearly, says a 2011 study out of the University of Connecticut. To ward off fatigue and stay alert, sip on water regularly throughout the day-some experts suggest the optimal amount is an ounce of water for every pound you weigh.
When you feel that noxious pounding in your head, it's natural to reach for the bottle of Advil. But a little water is all it might take to alleviate your headache. When the body is deprived of fluids, a headache often results. In fact, one study even found that drinking water can relieve headache symptoms in as quickly as 30 minutes.
Want to be more of a "glass half full" type of person? Drink a glass of water. Not only does mild dehydration sap your energy levels, it can also interfere with your mood. According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Nutrition, women who were mildly dehydrated reported greater mood disturbances, including crankiness and difficulty concentrating, than women who were amply hydrated.
Water is essential for normal kidney function, studies conclude. Drinking water prevents the formation of kidney stones and can also ward off pesky urinary tract infections (UTIs). In addition, one preliminary study hypothesized that fluid intake may help to cut an individual's kidney disease risk. To keep your kidneys healthy, aim to hydrate regularly and consume plenty of fruits and veggies, including cranberries, cabbage and red bell peppers.
You know that protein is good for building muscles, but would you ever guess that water is essential to muscle growth, too? It's easy to see why: Your muscles are 80 percent water, so being even slightly dehydrated can compromise muscle strength and affect workout recovery. With diminishing water content, muscles get tight and stiff. In fact, experts say that a loss of two percent of your body fluid can cause athletic performance to diminish by 25 percent. Before, during and after an intense workout, always aim to rehydrate with plenty of water.
If it isn't already, make water your go-to drink order. Sugar-laden sodas contribute to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, while diet sodas are no better. Even fruit juices are filled with the sugar equivalent of a candy bar. Water, on the other hand, is all-natural, healthy and, best of all, free! Bored with the taste? Spruce things up with a lemon wedge, or get creative by putting sliced cucumbers, berries, apples or other fruits in your water.
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