First published in December 2018, updated and made even more awesome October 2019

.Water.  It’s really does all the things!

It’s kind of crazy to think just how much a glass of water actually does in your body.

It’s a primary component in all bodily fluids: blood, lymph, digestive juices, urine, tears and sweat. It’s involved in almost every bodily function: digestion, absorption, detoxification and elimination of wastes, lymphatic system, and the immune system.

It carries electrolytes; mineral salts that help convey electrical current in the body and are therefore also vital to the nervous system. Our muscular and skeletal systems also rely on the adequate supply of these electrolyte minerals.

We all think of dry skin or lethargy as the ill effects of dehydration. But it goes far beyond that. If you’re dehydrated, essentially all fluids in your body are “less-than”, and the functioning of all bodily systems that depend on water, are therefore jeopardized.

So I guess it’s no wonder that drinking enough of it can boost your metabolism by a whooping 30%!

Because all of those physiological body functions mentioned above (detoxification, immunity, etc) would play a role in some direct or indirect way, it’s only logical that water is essential to helping us produce energy, improve performance and recovery, and even shed body fat and reduce our waist lines.

In fact, many studies show the thermogenic effect of drinking water.  To be thermogenic means to produce heat, and the term is commonly applied to anything that increases heat in the body through metabolic stimulation. This heat, or increased metabolic stimulation, increases the rate at which your body burns calories.  And water does this!

A 2003 study at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany showed how drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. This increase occurred within 10 minutes of drinking the water and reached a maximum after 30-40 minutes. Thus, “drinking 2 liters of water per day would augment energy expenditure by approximately 400 kJ” or about 100 total calories.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Dec;88(12):6015-9

A Virginia, USA 2010 study concluded that dieters who drank half a litre of water before meals, over a period of 12 weeks, lost 44% more weight, than those who did not consume water before meals.  And many other studies share this conclusion that water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet, or intentionally reduced calorie diet.

And there’s more links between water and weight loss.

Do you think it ever happens that you think you’re hungry, when actually you’re thirsty? You bet it happens, likely much more often than we realize. Our body just starts turning on all the alarms when we ignore thirst. And one of the first alarms is [mistakenly] hunger. For those of you trying to drop some pounds, staying hydrated can serve to suppress appetite and help with weight loss. As for the physiology of it, here’s how it works.

Your kidneys depend on water to do their job of filtering out waste products from the body. If you’re even slightly dehydrated, the liver steps in to help the kidneys in this process; thereby reducing its role in mobilizing stored fat for energy.

The result: fat loss is compromised.

There are tons of other benefits too. Here’s all the things:

Be less cranky

Research says that reduced circulation of electrolytes can affect your mood and make you grumpy and confused. Think clearer and be happier by drinking more H2O!

Perform better 

Proper hydration contributes to increased athletic performance. Water composes 75% of our muscle tissue, so when they’re well hydrated, they work better!

Supercharge your energy

and relieve fatigue. Since your brain is mostly water, keeping it hydrated helps you think, focus and concentrate better and be more alert. As an added bonus, your energy levels are also boosted!

Have less joint pain

Drinking water reduces pain in your joints by keeping the cartilage soft and hydrated. This is actually how glucosamine helps with pain, by aiding in cartilage’s absorption of water. When dehydrated, the body rations water away from the joints. Less lubrication equals greater friction and contributes to joint, knee and back pain – potentially leading to injuries and arthritis.

Poop like a boss

The intestinal system depends on adequate water to help eliminate all the stuff!  And this is made easier when your body is properly hydrated because less water will be withdrawn from the colon – which keeps your stool soft and easy to pass. If this process is impaired, toxic by-products and bacteria then filter to the liver and overburden it. Not good news for this overworked organ that’s needed for a lot of other really important jobs.

Flush out waste and bacteria

Body fluids transport toxic waste out of cells, and the less efficiently this is working, the greater the risk of a whole gamut of health concerns. Waste is flushed out in the form of urine and sweat. And if we don’t drink water, we don’t flush out waste and it collects in our body causing a myriad of problems.

Feed your body

Water is the carrier for the nutrients in the body. Water serves as the body’s transportation system and when we are dehydrated things just can’t get around as well.

Reduce cancer risk

Yes, that’s right. Research says staying hydrated can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50%, and possibly reduce breast cancer risk as well.

Reduce headaches

Sometimes headaches can be linked to dehydration, so drinking water can alleviate that nasty head pain. Next time your head hurts, try drinking water. Migraines (and back pains too) are commonly caused by dehydration too.

Energize and build muscles

Drinking plenty of water enables your muscles to work harder and longer before they feel tired. Cells that don’t maintain optimal levels of fluids and electrolytes fatigue faster.  When you’re even mildly dehydrated, the body will pull fluid from muscle cells into the bloodstream where it’s more vitally needed, thus leaving muscles more vulnerable to fatigue, stiffness and injury.

Look glowy & beautiful

Our skin is the largest organ in our body. Regular and plentiful water consumption can improve the color and texture of your skin by supporting its building of new cells properly. The skin is also the secondary elimination organ (after the liver and kidneys) so when the liver becomes unable to expel toxicity in the body, it will make its way to the skin. Drinking water also helps the skin do its job of regulating the body’s temperature through sweating.

Boost immune system

You’re less likely to get sick if you drink plenty of water because you’ll have a healthier lymphatic system keeping an army of immune fighters circulating through your body. So many wins!

How much water should you be drinking?

I'm sure you've seen lots of different opinions on this. There are many factors that affect everyone’s individual requirements for water, like body size (male/female), activity level, temperature, elevation, illness, and other special considerations such as pregnancy or recovery from surgery. Maybe you've also heard some experts claim, “Just use thirst as your guide”.   The problem with that is that, just like our hunger cues, our bodies and minds often get off-track and are NOT giving us accurate cues! So as a general rule, here's a good place to start:

WOMEN: 2-3 litres daily           MEN: 3-4 litres daily

Ok, but let’s get real. Water is boring, you don’t like the taste, and you always forget about it.  Not to worry, we got your back.

There are lots of ways you can dress up your water and make it mouth-watering!

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We’ve got you covered, download and print

A Day of Hydration, your guide to up’ing your drinking [water] game!

You might also like the Last 10 lbs Food Camp nutrition program that guides you through building great hydration habits and other skills to help build your best body from the inside out!

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