5 Reasons to Drink More Water
I thought we'd start off with a fairly basic concept that seems to be universal and get more specific from there. Today that's going to be a quick look at the overall health benefits of water. A quick summary of the topics covered below are as follows:
- Water can help control how much you eat.
- Water keeps the muscles from fatiguing.
- Water plays a role in joint pain prevention.
- Water can help with a clearer thought process.
- Water is a hangover helper.
Now, we all know at this point that water is essential for health. One can go a lot longer without food than they can without water. But let's delve a little deeper into these 5 topics and discover some of the key benefits of staying well hydrated, which may not mean what you think!
1. Water and its Satiation Properties
This is an interesting one to look at and has been the subject of studies as recently as last summer. The hypothesis is simply that if you drink more water before you start stuffing your face, you may have less room in your stomach and therefore will eat less. Let's take a look at one of the studies:
This study was done in Birmingham, England. The objective of the study was to determine whether or not drinking water before meal times resulted n weight loss for adults. Specifically, they were looking at obese adults.
Now, to be clear, they weren't asked to drink a litre or some crazy amount of water before the meal. A simple 500ml about 30 minutes before they ate each meal. The other group was told to imagine their stomach full before they ate.
The results are actually pretty staggering. At a 95% confidence level, the water preload group loses about 1.2 kg or, 2.64 lbs, after 3 months. Surely it's not an insane amount of weightloss, but for three months of doing nothing but simply drinking water, it's a start!
2. Water and Muscle Fatigue
This is an interesting effect of water that probably flies under the radar for most people, let alone athletes. The fact of the matter is, water is critical to all-around performance as an athlete. Dehydration can result in the following:
- More muscle soreness
- Longer recovery time
- Less motivation
How does this work? Well, when you're dehydrated you have a loss in blood volume from the lack of fluid in your body. This means your heart has to work extra hard to push nutrient rich blood to the places it has to go, including your brain and muscles.
3. Water and Joint Pain Prevention
Most athletes are aware that their joints are important to their success and performance on the field. But the uneducated athlete doesn't realize just how important it may be. In truth, though I have years of multiple different sports under my belt, I never realized this was as important as it is. Your joints are made up of something called cartilage, which is a firm tissue but much more soft than say, your bones. Indeed, this is what your nose is made of. But it is also found in, as far as I'm aware, every joint in the body. Keeping the cartilage soft and hydrated results in less joint pain. In fact, a supplement suggested for most seniors known as Glucosamine does exactly this, by aiding in the absorption properties of the cartilage. Because your cartilage is anywhere from 65-80% water, it is important for long term joint health to keep it hydrated.
4. Water and Clearing Your Thoughts
By now if you aren't drinking water while reading this, I don't know what you're doing! That being said, we are moving away from the physical performance benefits of water to the mental performance benefits. First and foremost, your mood. Although not an easy thing to quantify, studies have shown that even a small amount of dehydration can result in a negative impact on your mood. I probably don't have to tell you that your mood dictates how one's day goes on a regular basis.
Beyond this, water can affect your attention span, memory and motor skills. Staying focused is a key aspect of a successful life, whether it be in school or on the field. The study I'll cite is one from the University of East London School of Psychology in England. They ran subjects through a set of cognitive tests, feeding one group about 3 cups of water beforehand, and the control group got nothing. It was found that the hydrated group had a response time 14% faster than the unhydrated (perhaps dehydrated) group! That's a pretty large gap! The researchers claimed this was due to the fact that dehydration resulted in a brain that was shrunk. Although the research is not necessarily conclusive (small sample size), it certainly suggests you might as well be hydrated.
5. Water and Your Hangover
Unfortunately, even the athlete gets a mean hangover once in awhile. Perhaps you just won the big game of your season, or whatever other reason you may have to celebrate. I'm not judging you, I've been there too. But you should know that there are steps you can take to limit your hangover and keep your productivity up on the day after you have binged a little too much.
First, to get it out of the way, there are no scientific hangover prevention methods or hangover cures. Drinking water between beverages during the party may slow your consumption, but if you manage to drink the same amount you would've anyhow, you won't feel that much better. Greasy breakfasts are often hailed as helpful, but these are simply not in the athlete's diet (at least more than very occasionally).
Now that we've pushed the bullshit aside, how can water help? Well, it is commonly known that alcohol is a diuretic. What does this mean? It encourages the body to lose more water than it takes on by stopping the production of the anti-diuretic hormone. Essentially, alcohol makes you pee more than you would usually. This takes us full circle back to the idea of dehydration, and how it affects you. When you wake up hungover, chances are you are dehydrated. That headache is a combination of dehydration and the by-product of alcohol, ethanol.
So what's the solution? Yes, you guessed it, DRINK WATER. Rehydrating yourself should be the number one goal after a night of binge drinking. Certainly, drinking more ("The hair of the dog that bit you") is only going to delay the process. Straight water, gatorade (for the electrolytes) or coconut water (again, electrolytes) will help you not miss a beat and get back on that horse. By now surely you recognize that water is imperative to your performance, both on the field/court/wherever you display your athletic prowess, as well as in day-to-day life.