Mental clarity – if we want to have our wits about us, we’ve got to stay hydrated. Brain cells need a delicate balance of water and electrolytes to function. So, when we’re dehydrated our ability to think clearly is affected.
Our attention span is reduced and short term memory function can be impaired. Recent studies have shown that even a 1-2% decline can impair cognitive abilities including a person’s concentration, concept learning, critical thinking, memory, motivation and mood.
Improved physical performance – water loss during exercise is inevitable. How much will depend on the intensity and duration, meaning how hard your body has to work to regulate your temperature and keep blood flowing to your muscles.
It’s not uncommon for athletes to lose between 6-10% of their water body weight. Adequate drinking before, during and after exercise helps to keep your body in balance and improve performance.
A healthy heart – the human heart pumps around 2,000 gallons of blood around our bodies, day in day out. And, by staying hydrated you can help your heart to do its job effectively.
Dehydration decreases blood volume meaning your heart needs to beat faster for blood to circulate to the tissues and organs in your body. This increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Your blood also holds on to more sodium, which thickens your blood, making it harder for blood to circulate freely. Keeping your levels topped up helps the heart to pump blood more easily and oxygen to reach the muscles and help them work efficiently.
An effective digestive system – water helps us go to the loo, something we all need to do every day to excrete waste from the body. How? It binds with soluble fibre (which you get from the likes of wholegrains such as rice and oats, beans and pulses and whole fruits such as apples and berries), increasing the bulk of your stools, making elimination easier.
If you don’t drink enough water, the body will look for it, most likely pulling it from the stools in your colon, increasing the risk of constipation.
Better quality sleep – studies have connected vasopressin, the body’s hormonal system which regulates hydration, and the circadian rhythym, which controls our sleep-wake-cycle. Vasopressin should be released before sleep to enable your body to hold on to water and keep you hydrated during sleep. If you aren’t sufficiently hydrated this system may not be working as it should.
Researchers found that people who slept six hours a night and less had almost 60% higher chance of being dehydrated than those who got eight hours of shut eye. The team behind this study also suggested that feeling tired when you wake could also be down to dehydration and not just the lack of sleep. (Rosinger et al, 2019)
Weight-loss – it should be said that drinking water is not a magic bullet for weight-loss – there are dozens of other impacting factors, from the nutrient density of the food you are consuming, stress, exercise. But, what we do know, is that other drinks such as lattes, alcohol and fizzy drinks are high in sugar and are also diuretics, causing you to lose more fluids than you are taking on.
Drinks high in sugar can also prevent the body from absorbing water. So, by simply switching your can of Coke, your morning cappuccino or evening glass of red wine for water, you will be removing empty calories and giving your body a chance to hydrate more effectively. Drinking water has also been shown to increase satiety and quash hunger pangs, so it’s a win win.
Aids detoxifcation – the liver works to detoxify chemicals in the body and water supports the liver with this process. If you want to have a healthy liver, you need to drink more water. And, obviously, less toxic load means more energy, better sleep, clearer thinking, better skin, the list goes on.
This article was written with the support and guidance of Registered Nutritional Therapist, Sarah Ormerod of Thryve Nutrition (mBANT, CNHC).