Extensive scientific research has been focused on one of the simplest things we can do to improve our overall health: drink water! Dehydration has been associated with decreases in mental concentration and physical coordination. Furthermore, fluid restriction can cause impaired alertness, slowed reaction time and poor memory performance. Low water intake is also related to constipation, kidney stones and headaches.
Our bodies require a consistent supply of water. During the day, we lose water through sweating, breathing and urination. Not drinking enough water can lead to dark urine, urinary infections and dizziness when we stand up. When the mucous membranes in our nose and throat get dried out or inflamed, it puts us more at risk for catching a cold, or — even worse — the flu.
Drinking water is one of the easiest things we can do to keep ourselves healthy. Water is used to flush toxins from the kidney, stabilize our blood pressure and keep our organs working the way they should. Appropriate hydration is required for optimal health. Water can also prevent fatigue. Next time you feel tired, drink water instead of coffee.
But how much should we be drinking? At least 8 to 10 cups of water over the course of a day. People who exercise, work outdoors, or find they sweat more than the average person will require even more. The best way to drink water is slowly over the course of the day. Keep a big water bottle by your desk at work so you can drink from it all day long.
An important point when it comes to proper hydration is that coffee, alcohol or caffeinated beverages do not count toward the 8 to 10 cup goal. Caffeine and alcohol can actually cause increased water loss and act like diuretics (“water pills”) to cause dehydration.
Also note that our bodies frequently mix the signals for thirst and hunger. Those hunger pangs you are feeling may actually be your body telling you to drink more water. Before sitting down to a big meal, be sure to drink a glass of water to help control your appetite.