Despite recent advances in modern medicine, chronic diseases – and the associated health care costs – are on the rise in our society. Our bodies are breaking down more quickly and more often than ever before, and an increasing number of us are becoming dependent on medication simply to live our daily lives. There are many factors that contribute to this problem – overconsumption of calories, lack of exercise, jobs that require us to sit long hours throughout the day, air pollution, and more. But one of the most powerful (and reversible) reasons why many around us continue to get sick is simple – we just aren’t getting an adequate amount of nutrients in our bodies to protect us from disease.
So many of us are missing out on quite a few nutrients – various vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals – due to the nutritionally-poor diets full of empty calories that most Americans (and most people around the world, for that matter) consume. But what is this all-important nutrient referenced in the title of this article? WATER. Yes, water is a nutrient, and the amount you drink per day is likely dangerously low. In fact, a report from CBS news estimated that up to 75% of Americans are currently suffering from chronic dehydration!
The failure to drink enough water can, over time, contribute to a vast amount of dangerous medical issues, such as the following:
- Chronic fatigue
- Joint pain
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Mood disorders
- Brain fog
And that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg. Think about it: your body is nearly 75% water, and your brain itself is close to 80% water! Since water is absolutely essential for nearly every function in your body, even slight deficiencies in the amount of water in your body can suppress many necessary processes and wreak serious havoc over time.
On the other hand, when you are properly hydrated, you may notice the following benefits:
- Improved mental functioning and focus
- Improved digestion and elimination
- Improved immunity
- Improved skin tone and texture
- Reduction or elimination of acne
- Reduced aches and pains
- Improved muscular endurance
- Improved and stabilized mood
- Increased libido
“But I already drink tons of liquids!” you say? Unfortunately, even though you may be drinking a lot of liquid, there may be other factors that prevent you from being properly hydrated. Beverages such as sports drinks, coffee, sweetened teas, sodas, and vitamin-infused waters are simply no substitute for water, and in many cases actually contribute to further dehydration. In fact, after drinking caffeinated beverages, you urinate more than the volume of water contained in the beverage! Other factors such as stress, prescription medication, chronic illnesses like diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome, pregnancy, breastfeeding, dietary supplements, alcohol consumption, and poor diet quality can all contribute to dehydration. So what can you do to rehydrate yourself and make sure you don’t suffer from chronic dehydration? Here are some simple rules to follow and tips to implement:
- Drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces per day. So for example, if you weigh 140 pounds, the absolute minimum of pure, high-quality water you should be drinking is 70 ounces. Add more if you’re being physically active.
- Whenever you wake up in the morning, drink 2-3 glasses of water before you do anything else. Not only is your body typically in its most dehydrated state upon waking, but drinking water on an empty stomach will aid in absorption and improve digestion throughout the day.
- Make sure you drink a glass of water before every meal, ideally 30 minutes before eating. This will help you out dramatically with preventing overeating and improving digestion.
- Drink water BEFORE you exercise, not just after. You’ll notice your endurance and energy levels will be higher with adequate hydration.
- Drink water consistently throughout the day. Your body can better utilize water if it’s given a moderate amount at a time, ideally around 4-6 ounces every 30 minutes, rather than waiting until you’re very thirsty and drinking a large amount at once.
Water is easily the single most important component of a healthy lifestyle, yet it is so easily overlooked and taken for granted. Do your body a favor and make drinking adequate amounts of high-quality water a priority in your life!