With most diet plans, less is more. When you’re thinking about losing weight, you’re generally thinking about putting less into your body so that the number on the scale starts to shrink.
While it is true that you’ll probably need to cut calories if you want to see any significant weight loss, there is one thing that you should probably increase if you really want to see a major difference in your overall health and wellness: your water consumption.
Water is more than just a refreshing beverage; it is a vital nutrient that sustains your body’s basic functions. Without the proper amount of water, your body simply can’t survive. Unfortunately, in a world where instant gratification reigns supreme, high-calorie, sugar-filled beverages have replaced water as the beverage of choice for many people.
According to dietitians, dehydration can be a serious problem. Chronic dehydration can kill you, and more mild cases can result in headaches, fatigue, and decreased physical performance. Luckily, it’s easy to prevent dehydration: simply drink water!
Although some companies and even athletes may tout the usefulness of “sports drinks,” the majority of research indicates that the only liquid that is genuinely needed to rehydrate the body is water. Anything else that is added to a liquid is just filler and empty calories. In addition, most people can get around 20% of their daily recommended water allowance by eating a healthful diet rich in natural fruits and vegetables.
While water is one of the most basic building blocks that your body needs, it also serves other important functions with regards to health and wellness. Let’s take a look at some of the other roles that water plays in your body.
Hydration and Weight Loss
If you’re looking to shed some weight, H2O needs to be a key player in your plan. According to a review of many weight loss plans and education programs, the vast majority of these plans omit any mention of the vital importance of hydration. In addition, these reviews of diet plans found that most plans fail to discuss the fact that sugary, calorie-laden drinks are one of the major contributors to obesity and type-2 diabetes.
Overlooking water when trying to lose weight is a big mistake. According to research presented in Obesity: A Research Journal, there is a significant correlation between drinking enough water and losing weight over time. There are a variety of theories as to why this may be the case. According to some experts, drinking water may make you feel fuller, causing you to eat less, therefore leading to weight loss.
This is just one theory, but many dietitians and nutritionists do recommend drinking a full glass of water before each meal to decrease the amount that you eat. In addition, many experts suggest that when you feel hungry, you should try having a glass of water instead. Often, our brains can confuse thirst signals with hunger signals. In these cases, drinking a glass of water can often be enough to calm a hungry stomach without filling up on unnecessary calories. Luckily, water doesn’t have any calories at all!
Hydration and Physical Activity
Most health and wellness programs suggest a measure of physical activity to improve cardiovascular health, lower body weight, and improve overall muscle tone, among other things. There are myriad ways that exercise can help improve your overall health; however, the sweat that comes with exercise also increases your risk of dehydration.
According to research from Oxford Academic Nutrition Reviews, environment plays a key role in determining how hard dehydration may impact you. The research indicates that in colder or moderate temperatures, you are less likely to see a rapid decrease in your performance because of the water that you lose from sweating. However, in hot temperatures, losing as little as 2% of your body’s water mass through sweat can have a significant impact on your physical performance.
The solution to the problem is simple. Just carry a water bottle whenever you plan to work out. Reusable water bottles are great for the environment. Just toss one in your gym bag and you’ll be ready to hydrate any time you work up a sweat.
Hydration and Chronic Illness
In addition to weight loss and fitness, water plays other important roles in your body’s health. In fact, there is ample evidence to suggest that proper hydration can play an important role in decreasing your risk of developing certain illnesses and in decreasing unpleasant symptoms for those diagnosed with chronic illnesses.
According to research, even mild dehydration can significantly increase your risk of developing certain chronic conditions. The illnesses linked to hydration range from unpleasant to life-threatening:
- kidney stones
- exercise asthma
- urinary tract infections
- coronary disease
These are only a few of the medical conditions that have been linked to dehydration.
Hydration and the Brain
Water is what we use to clean everything from our kitchen sink to our cars. It makes sense that water also clears out our brains! According to neuroscientists, evidence suggests that even a small amount of dehydration can impair concentration, alertness, and short-term memory. This suggests that when that mid-afternoon fogginess kicks it, it may not be coffee that your body is craving. Water may be just the thing that your brain is searching for.
Additional research tells us that water makes a significant impact on the brain’s hormonal and neurochemical functions. This means that in addition to impacting your cognitive performance, hydration also affects your mood. If you’re feeling grumpy or down in the dumps, an acute case of dehydration may in fact be the culprit.
As we get older, hydration becomes more and more important. In one study, scientists examined the relationship between hydration and confusion and cognitive decline in the elderly. They found that by keeping close track of the patients’ hydration status, they were able to prevent additional decline by keeping their brains hydrated and functioning at optimum levels compared to their personal baselines.
All of these studies and statistics indicated that something as simple as H2O can make a major impact on your body’s health and wellness.
Grab a water bottle and head to the nearest fountain right now!