Wa­ter—To Your Health

Hy­dra­tion is vi­tal for your body and your brain

Reader's Digest International - - Contents - BY MARISSA LALIBERTE AND LIND­SAY TIGAR

STUD­IES SHOW THAT drink­ing enough wa­ter fends off health prob­lems from head to toe. How much wa­ter de­pends on many fac­tors: your weight, the cli­mate where you live, how of­ten you ex­er­cise. The old rule of thumb of eight, 8-ounce glasses a day is not a bad place to start.

The clear­est sign that you’re well hy­drated is trans­par­ent yel­low or pale urine. If yours is a darker yel­low, you prob­a­bly need to drink more wa­ter. An even bet­ter gauge may be how you feel. Wa­ter can be a po­tent elixir for your mind and body. Here’s a look at the ways be­ing well hy­drated can help your health.

YOU’LL HAVE LOTS OF EN­ERGY Wa­ter helps keep up a steady flow of nu­tri­ents into your cells, which boosts

your en­ergy. When you’re de­hy­drated, this flow is ham­pered as cell mem­branes be­come less per­me­able, af­fect­ing your phys­i­cal and men­tal per­for­mance mak­ing you feel slug­gish. This is ac­cord­ing to a re­view of hy­dra­tion re­search con­ducted by sci­en­tists at Univer­sity of North Carolina and Tufts Univer­sity, U.S.



Wa­ter helps your mus­cles keep the right bal­ance of elec­trolytes, such as sodium, potas­sium, and mag­ne­sium, to func­tion prop­erly. With­out wa­ter, your mus­cles can be more prone to cramp­ing. Re­search sug­gests that even low lev­els of de­hy­dra­tion may im­pair phys­i­cal per­for­mance.


A new study from the Univer­sity of Illi­nois, U.S. in­volv­ing more than 18,000 adults found that when peo­ple in­creased their daily wa­ter in­take by one to three cups (on top of the four they drank on av­er­age), they ate less: Their food in­take dropped by as much as 205 calo­ries a day.

YOUR MEM­ORY MAY IM­PROVE Your brain is hugely de­pen­dent on fluid—all those synapses and neu­rons need liq­uid to fire prop­erly. Ac­cord­ing to a re­view pub­lished in the jour­nal Nu­tri­ents, stud­ies have con­sis­tently found that mem­ory and at­ten­tion im­prove in chil­dren af­ter they take a drink of wa­ter. The re­search is less clear whether this holds true for adults.



There’s a rea­son your doc­tor tells you to drink more when you’re com­ing down with some­thing. Your body has to launch an at­tack against germs when you’re sick, and your cells need more fluid to keep up with the de­mand. Drink­ing wa­ter also helps loosen mu­cus and keep your nose and throat moist.

YOU’LL KEEP THINGS REG­U­LAR “Wa­ter in­ter­acts with di­etary fiber in the di­ges­tive tract to bulk stools,” says Jor­dan J. Kar­litz, MD, FACG, pro­fes­sor of clin­i­cal medicine at Tu­lane Can­cer Cen­ter, Louisiana, United States. By stay­ing hy­drated, you can re­duce the risk of con­sti­pa­tion.

TIRED OF DRINK­ING WA­TER? Con­sider upping your hy­dra­tion game by mak­ing your “brew” sparkling or fruit fla­vored – but be sure not to add ar­ti­fi­cial sug­ars, and steer clear of tonic wa­ter, which has added sodium and su­gar. You can also munch on fruits and veg­eta­bles with high wa­ter con­tent, such as wa­ter­melon, cu­cum­bers, toma­toes, grapes, and cher­ries.

Herbal teas, milk, and sports drinks can help you stay hy­drated as long as they’re not overly caf­feinated or sug­ary.

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