180 Nutrition: From a very young age water is given as a recommended tonic for every ailment you can think of. Headache? Drink more water. Stomach upset? Drink more water. Bad skin? Drink more water!
My dear old pop put the secret to his long life down to drinking a big glass of water as the first thing he did when he woke up every day. Old wives’ tale or not, he just celebrated his 98th birthday so he must be doing something right!
Whether water is a cure for specific ailments or not (and more often than not, it is!), kids across the country were taught to carry their water bottle long before they’d even learnt the alphabet, and there aren’t many people on the planet who don’t know that H20 goodness is key to their survival.
We know that if we don’t drink enough our body responds by making us feel thirsty, but there are plenty of other liquids that can quench thirst on a hot summer’s day. So why are two to three litres of water PER DAY recommended as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle?
Water is, of course, the best solution to quench your thirst because it’s pure and contains no artificial ingredients or flavours, but there are some positive effects it has on the body that you might not know of.
Here’s what happens to your body every time you have a big drink of the wet stuff.
1) It improves digestion
Water dissolves soluble fibre and fat which form in the gut. This softens your stools and along with the flushing mechanism provided by your kidneys, helps your body eliminate waste easier and painlessly. If you’re suffering from constipation, a large glass of water will make passing a stool painless and much easier.
2) It improves brain function
The brain relies on water for energy. As water can’t be stored in the brain, activities like sweating, crying and even breathing use up water which you need to replenish consistently. If you’ve noticed that on a hot summer’s day you start to feel confused, tired and a bit irrational – that is your brain’s way of telling you it’s run out of energy and it needs water.
3) It cures headaches
When your brain tissue isn’t holding enough water, your brain shrinks which makes it move away from the skull. This causes a headache which you can easily cure with a big drink of water.
Dehydration also causes fatigue which leads to headaches so if you’re tired but you’ve been sleeping well, it could just be the lack of water making you feel groggy.
4) It improves your skin
Your skin is an organ which, like your other organs, is made up of cells which work best with regular hydration. When your body is dehydrated, your skin responds by becoming dry and flaky. Dry skin is weaker and therefore more prone to wrinkling.
The skin is the last organ to receive the water that you drink, so it’s important to drink adequate quantities each day to ensure it reaches your skin. You can also apply water directly to your skin to hydrate it from the outside, in.
5) It removes harmful toxins
Water leads to urination which is the bodies way of flushing out the harmful toxins that cause chronic illness and fatigue. The more you drink, the more you flush, and the healthier you’ll become.
6) It prevents injury
Water goes straight to your joints and muscles and keeps them supple. When you exercise, the flexibility this creates means you are much less prone to injury from impact.
When you are dehydrated, you struggle both physically and mentally, and as one of the primary sources of energy for your body, everything is more difficult without water.
While everyone’s requirements are different, drinking two to three litres per day (more or less depending on your activity level) will ensure that your body is hydrated and running at optimal health at all times.
Not into plain drinking water? Spice it up with a few slices of citrus fruit and/or some refreshing herbs like mint :)
* We are not medical professionals and using water as a guide to treat medical ailments is meant as a guide only. Always see a medical professional if symptoms persist.