5 Secret Benefits of Water - The Science of Hydration

5 Secret Benefits of Water - The Science of Hydration

Our bodies are thought to be around 60% water, which is why it is commonly advised that we drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. There is little science behind this rule, but staying hydrated is vital. Here are some of the science-backed benefits of staying hydrated:

Water Can Help To Maximise Your Physical Performance

If we do not stay well-hydrated, our physical performance ends up suffering. This is particularly of importance during periods of intense exercise or heat. Dehydration causes a noticeable effect when as little as 2% of body water content is lost. However, it’s not that uncommon for athletes to lose up to 10% of their water weight via sweat (1). This leads to an altered body temperature control, which can reduce motivation, increase feelings of fatigue, and make exercise feel much more difficult both physically and mentally (2). Experts have found that by staying optimally hydrated, these factors can be prevented from happening and may even reduce the amount of oxidative stress which occurs during moments of high-intensity exercise. This fact isn’t actually that surprising when you consider that muscles are made up of 80% water (3). Therefore, if you exercise and sweat intensely, staying hydrated can allow you to perform your best.

Your Brain Function And Energy Levels Can Be Strongly Affected By Hydration Levels

Hydration plays a significant role in energy levels and brain function. Studies have found that mild dehydration (1-3% of body weight) can impair aspects of brain function. One study of young women found that a fluid loss of only 1.36% after exercise managed to damage both mood and concentration, which increased frequencies of headaches (4). A second similar study found that young men who had a fluid loss of 1.59% had detrimental effects on working memory, and even increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue (5). A fluid loss between 1-3% is equivalent to about 0.5-2.0kg of body weight for someone who is 68kg. This much fluid loss can occur easily for someone during their normal daily activities, let alone during exercise and high heat. Other studies which explore the effects of dehydration on children and the elderly have found that mild dehydration can impair mood, memory, and brain performance (6, 7).

Drinking More Water Can Aid Weight Loss

By drinking plenty of water, you increase your chances of losing weight. This is because water can increase feelings of satiety and boost metabolic rates. Two studies found that drinking up to half a litre of water can increase metabolism by up to 30% within one and a half hours (8, 9). This means that drinking up to two litres of water a day can increase overall energy expenditure by almost 96 calories (401 kilojoules) within one day. Timing is also important. Drinking water around thirty minutes before a meal can be effective. It can make you feel fuller, consequently causing you to consume fewer calories. One study found that dieters who drank half a litre of water before their meals were able to lose 44% more weight over three months (10). You will find that it’s best to drink colder water if you’re aiming to lose weight. This is because the body uses additional energy to heat the water up to your body temperature.

Drinking Water Can Help To Prevent And Treat Headaches

Dehydration can trigger headaches and can even cause migraines in some people; however, this is dependent on the type of headache (11). Studies have found that drinking water can relieve headaches in those individuals who are dehydrated (12). Other studies have found that drinking water had no effects on the frequency of headaches but was able to reduce the intensity and duration of them (13). Increasing Water Intake Can Reduce The Intensity Of Hangovers Hangovers are the unpleasant symptoms which occur after drinking alcohol. As alcohol is a diuretic, it causes you to lose water which can lead to dehydration (14). Although dehydration isn’t the main cause of hangovers, it does cause symptoms such as thirst, fatigue, dry mouth, and headaches. Each of these symptoms can be resolved by increasing your water intake. One excellent way to reduce your hangover is to ensure that you drink a glass of water between your drinks and drink one big glass of water before you sleep. What Are The Warning Signs Of Dehydration (15)? Your fluid requirements are greater when you exercise or in warm weather as we lose body fluids through sweating. Sweating is an important function to cool your body down, so you can continue performing at your best. You cannot train your body to get used to and begin tolerating dehydration; therefore it’s important that you are able to recognize the warning signs of dehydration. These include: - Dizziness and light-headedness - Muscle cramps - Nausea and headaches - The inability to concentrate - Dark urine and infrequent urination - Feelings of a dry mouth and throat

Tips for ensuring you drink enough water (15)

- Make sure that you always carry a water bottle with you - Instead of juices or soda drinks, opt for water with your meals and snacks - Keep your fluids cool, as this will encourage you to drink more water especially in the warm weather - Try flavoured water – you can make your own by adding slices of strawberries, lemon slices or mint leaves to add a flavour boost Do keep in mind though that there is no benefit to being over-hydrated. This will only make you feel bloated and increase your urgency for urination. More Tips On Hydration and Nutrition When You Take Up The Challenge! The latest Maxine's Challenge commences on the 20th of May, with support from experts and other members to help you to achieve your goals. Sign up today
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