Water is the second most popular beverage after soft drinks. This is a scary stat, since sugary soda is a huge health hazard, upping the risk of obesity, stroke, and other heart problems . However, these dangers can be avoided if people choose to drink water, which doesn’t have negative side effects. So help put the sugary stuff to the side and make water the number one drink of choice. The benefits really are endless. (Just take a look!)
It might protect against some types of cancer. Research has found that the greater the fluid intake, the lower the incidence of bladder cancer, with more significant results when the fluid is water . One possible reason could be that urinating more frequently prevents the buildup of bladder carcinogens. Staying hydrated may also reduce the risk of colon cancer and breast cancer.
It can improve mood. Drinking water makes us feel so refreshed that it actually improves our state of mind. You don’t even have to be severely in need of it to benefit: Even mild dehydration has been shown to negatively impact moods.
It keeps things moving, digestion-wise. Water helps us, you know, go by helping dissolve fats and soluble fiber. Drinking enough water prevents constipation and also reduces the burden on the kidneys and liver by helping to flush waste products. Geagan breaks it down: “In the large intestine, water binds with fiber to increase the bulk of the stools, reduce transit time and make elimination easier. When you don’t drink enough water and fluids, the colon pulls water from stools, increasing your risk of constipation.”
It could aid weight loss. Anyone looking to lose weight could be helped by upping their water intake. Studies have found that when participants drink water before a meal, they lose weight faster than those who did not drink water . Extra H2O helps us eat less by making us feel full, and it may also boost metabolism. CamelBak hydration adviser Kate Geagan, RD says it’s not uncommon to put on weight by mistaking thirst for hunger, and she offers this pro tip: Next time you feel fatigued or sluggish, “drinking water may be just what [you] need to perk up.”
Drinking it may help prevent headaches, naturally. Going without water for too long causes headaches for some people, and has been identified as a migraine trigger . The good news is that in a study on the effects of water on headaches, participants experienced “total relief” from their headaches within 30 minutes of drinking water (two cups, on average) . Geagan says a good way to prevent headaches is to stay hydrated throughout the day. And if you’ve already been hit with a dehydration-triggered headache, you’ll need significantly more water to help it go away. She recommends drinking two to four cups of water for headache relief within one to two hours.
It keeps our kidneys working. Kidneys remove waste from our bodies, help control our blood pressure, and balance fluids, so they’re crucial to keeping our systems running smoothly. One surefire way to keep them working properly? Adequate water consumption! So drink up to keep those kidneys in tip-top shape.
It energizes us. Next time you’re feeling zonked, try drinking a couple glasses of water. Feeling tired is one of the first signs of dehydration and filling back up on H2O could zap the sleepiness.
It may help keep us alert. If you’re going to need to concentrate for long periods of time, keep water handy to help you stay refreshed, hydrated, and focused: Dehydration can impair your attention span, memory, and motor skills.
It protects our joints and cartilage. Water keeps the cartilage around our joints hydrated and supple, ensuring that our joints stay lubricated. It also protects our spinal cord and tissues, keeping us healthy from the inside out. Geagan explains that cartilage the rubbery material that coats our bones is about 85 percent water. To keep this protective material healthy, we need to keep hydrated.
It takes the edge off of hangovers. Drinking alcohol causes dehydration, which can lead to hangovers. Having a glass of water with each alcoholic drink you sip is one way to offset the dehydration (and the day-after misery).
It helps us think more clearly. Dehydration causes shrinkage of brain tissue. So when we haven’t been drinking enough water, our brains have to work a lot harder to perform at the same level . One study even found that students who brought water to tests did better on their exams.
Eating it hydrates us—deliciously. Water-rich fruits and vegetables like cucumber, watermelon, and strawberries contain minerals, salts, and natural sugars the body needs for optimum hydration levels, so eating them can sometimes rehydrate us more effectively (and a lot more tastily) than water alone.
Good for our health. One study showed that good health is more prevalent the closer one lives to the coast . Whether it’s the proximity to sea air, greenery, or opportunities to soak up sunshine on the beach, spending timenear the water makes us healthier.
It balances our fluids. About 60 percent of the human body is made of water, and keeping our fluids balanced means that all that water is doing its job transporting nutrients, aiding digestion, regulating temperature, and so on.
Spending time in cold water is good for athletes. Studies show that immersion in cold water is beneficial for sustained athletic performance in the heat, and for treating muscle damage after exercise. On hot days, immersion in cold water can keep body temperatures level and blood flowing.
It’s been linked to heart health. Can drinking water keep us heart healthy? There seems to be a link between risk of death from coronary heart disease and water intake:Research has shown both that consuming more water means a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease and that risk of death rises when intake of “high-energy fluids” (like soda and juice) increases.
Waterbeds can help some people with back pain. Perhaps there’s a therapeutic reason that waterbeds were all the rage in the ’70s and ‘80s. Research indicates that waterbed mattresses are associated with improving back pain symptoms and providing a good night’s sleep (though the benefits were small).