Water, water, water. What's the deal with water? Why is water so often cited as the one healthy habit to adopt?
Well, I could give you one reason, but how about more?
How about SEVEN great reasons to get your water habit on? Because, in addition to keeping the hunger pangs at bay, hydration keeps the entire human machine functioning optimally. Below, Rachael Moeller Gorman, from Eating Well magazine, on the connection between water and health. (Find this article in it's entirety at the title link.)
Why Drink Water? How Water and Health Are Connected
By Rachael Moeller Gorman, "Liquid Assets,"July/August 2011
Water accounts for 60 percent of our body—or about 11 gallons or 92 pounds inside a 155-pound person—and is essential to every cell. We use water to cool our body with sweat, to circulate oxygen and fuel to our organs and take away waste products via blood. But how does it impact your breath, muscles, skin—and brain function?
Staying hydrated keeps your memory sharp, your mood stable and your motivation intact. When you’re well-hydrated, you can also think through a problem more easily. Researchers hypothesize that not having enough water could reduce oxygen flow to the brain or temporarily shrink neurons—or being thirsty could simply distract you.
Water keeps your throat and lips moist and prevents your mouth from feeling dry. Dry mouth can cause bad breath and/or an unpleasant taste—and can even promote cavities.
Dehydration lowers your blood volume, so your heart must work harder to pump the reduced amount of blood and get enough oxygen to your cells, which makes everyday activities like walking up stairs—as well as exercise—more difficult.
Your body releases heat by expanding blood vessels close to the skin’s surface (this is why your face gets red during exercise), resulting in more blood flow and more heat dissipated into the air. When you’re dehydrated, however, it takes a higher environmental temperature to trigger blood vessels to widen, so you stay hotter.
When you’re well hydrated, the water inside and outside the cells of contracting muscles provides adequate nutrients and removes waste efficiently so you perform better. Water is also important for lubricating joints. Contrary to popular belief, muscle cramps do not appear to be related to dehydration, but, instead, to muscle fatigue, according to Sam Cheuvront, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist for the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.
When a person is severely dehydrated, skin is less elastic. This is different than dry skin, which is usually the result of soap, hot water and exposure to dry air. And, no, unfortunately, drinking lots of water won’t prevent wrinkles.
Your kidneys need water to filter waste from the blood and excrete it in urine. Keeping hydrated may also help prevent urinary tract infections and kidney stones. If you are severely dehydrated, your kidneys may stop working, causing toxins to build up in your body.
Our favorite ways to get our water habit on?
Well, we have a few tricks. This water thing doesn't come effortlessly to us either, and we employ some helpers to assist.
- First thing in the morning, we drink our first glass while the coffee brews. Remember that coffee and alcohol are diuretics, and for each consumed beverage, make certain to drink the same amount, or more, of water.
- We set alarms. Alarms on our phones. I hate those alarms. Alarms are, well, alarming. But they do shake me out of dehydrated torpor long enough to remind-- DRINK YOUR WATER.
- We drink an entire glass of water before each meal. Heck, sometimes we're no longer hungry for food, once we're sufficiently hydrated.
- We're never completely dressed without a......... bottle of water.
- We 'decorate' our water. (See above) Infusing water, the night before, with herbs, fruits, and vegetables of our choosing really helps to make water taste, and seem like, the treat our bodies consider it to be. We have several pitchers waiting for us, all day long. Some favorite combinations include strawberry and lavender, mixed citrus and mint, and cucumber with ANYthing.
- And almost as important as when we drink water, when we don't drink water-- We avoid drinking water after 8p.m. We DO need our sleep after all. But that's another topic entirely.......
Now all this water's going to come in handy tomorrow, when we'll be talking about the benefits of hot peppers, and sharing links to our favorite bloggers' hot pepper-prominent recipes on Superfoods: Hot Peppers!, Notes From Maggie's Farm.