Fall might be upon us here in Texas, but it is still blistering hot. It is normally in the 90s throughout September and most of October. That means we still need to drink a lot of water. I always keep at least one bottle of water on me to help keep my hydrated. However, I recently noticed that I was not getting enough water throughout the day. On my busy days I was lucky to drink maybe to average sized (16.9 oz) bottles of water a day. That just isn’t enough water.
About two weeks ago I decided that I was going to set a goal to drink at least one gallon of water a day. Yes, a gallon. That really sounds like a lot of water when you first hear about people drinking that much, but it is doable! I have done a lot of reading through the years about the importance of staying hydrated. I was good about getting my daily water intake and then suddenly, I just quit drinking water like I should have. But now, I am making sure I stay properly hydrated.
There are so many benefits to staying hydrated. I may not be able to really list them all. However, there is a pretty impressive list that I found while looking it up on the internet. Please keep in mind that I am not a healthcare professional and what I am sharing with you is information that I have learned through research, life experience and advice from my doctor. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your health care professional.
15 Benefits to Staying Hydrated
- Lubricates joints
- Forms saliva and mucus
- Delivers oxygen throughout the body
- Boosts skin health
- Cushions the brain, spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues
- Regulates body temperature
- Regulates digestion
- Flushes waste from the body
- Helps maintain blood pressure
- Prevents Kidney Damage
- Boosts exercise performance
- Weight loss
- Reduces chance of a hangover
- (McIntosh, 2018)
I could talk about each of the 15 items on the list, but that would make for an insanely long post. I am also not a nutritionist, doctor or any other medical healthcare professional. But, I would like to talk about a couple of benefits that were high on my priority list when I decided to get better about drinking water.
Water and Weight Loss
If you have read my previous posts, I am sure you have learned that I am trying very hard to get back into shape and lose weight. So, I learned that staying hydrated is a great way to help you lose weight. There are 6 ways drinking enough water can help you lose weight. First, water is a natural appetite suppressant. Drinking water can fill your stomach. When the stomach is full it sends signals to the brain to stop eating (Huizen, 2018). So, if you keep drinking water throughout the day, you may end up taking in less calories because your stomach may already be partially filled with water already. You may even want to drink a glass of water before a meal to keep you from overeating. Also, you might think you are hungry during the day when you might actually be thirsty (Huizen, 2018). If you find yourself hungry during the day and you don’t want to take in too many calories, drink a glass of water. If you find yourself hungry still after drinking water, then eat a healthy snack (I love apples and peanut butter 😊).
Second, drinking plenty of water could increase the number of calories you burn in a day. Drinking water can help you burn 2-3% more calories than usual after consuming water. Drinking cold water may increase the calories burned even more because the body uses more energy to heat the water up for digestion (Huizen, 2018). Three percent more calories burned may not seem like a lot. But, every little bit helps.
Next, water can help remove waste from the body. If you are not drinking enough water, you are not allowing your body to function properly. Water helps the kidneys filter toxins and waste. If you are not drinking enough water, the kidneys retain fluid (Huizen, 2018). Not drinking enough water can cause constipation. Drinking water helps keep stools moving, which helps remove waste from the body (Huizen, 2018). Drinking water can also help your body recover from indigestion and diarrhea (Huizen, 2018). Keeping hydrated will keep you from retaining water and nasties that could hinder weight loss.
Reduces Caloric Intake
Fourth, drinking water can reduce your intake of liquid calories. Replacing just one or two sugary drinks can greatly reduce your caloric intake and help you lose weight (Huizen, 2018). Some people do not realize how many calories they are actually drinking per day. Even healthy options like juice can be full of calories that can throw off your weight loss.
Next, water is necessary to burn fat. The body cannot properly metabolize store carbohydrates if you are not drinking enough water (Huizen,2018). Finally, water can help you with your workouts. “Water helps muscles, connective tissues, and joints to move correctly. It also helps the lungs, heart, and other organs to work effectively as they ramp up activity during exercise” (Huizen, 2018). Staying hydrated throughout your workouts can also help prevent fatigue and muscle cramps (Huizen, 2018).
Water and Fertility
Now, this item was not on the list above. But, drinking enough water can actually help increase your fertility! I wrote a post about how my hubby and I are trying to conceive (TTC) a few weeks ago. In my research of how my hubby and I can naturally improve our fertility, I was quite surprised how hydration could affect it. Not drinking enough water can negatively affect fertility in both men and women. Warning, things are going to get a little science-y; meaning names of organs and what not are going to be discussed.
For women, not drinking enough water can affect cervical mucus (CM). CM is produced in the cervix and helps the sperm survive in the woman’s body long enough to reach the egg (Hatch, 2019). CM is about 90% water, so a dehydrated body will produce CM. Any CM that is created may not be thin enough to allow sperm to travel through it easily (Hatch, 2019). If you aren’t drinking enough water, your body could be too acidic for sperm to survive in your body. Even if your CM is the right consistency, being too acidic can negatively impact your fertility (Hatch, 2019).
Drinking plenty of water affects the health of a woman’s eggs. Not having enough water in the system at any time during the cycle could increase the odds of having the wrong number or distribution of chromosomes in the egg that is released and can cause implantation issues or even miscarriages (Hatch, 2019). Dehydration can also weaken to thin the uterine lining making it hard for a healthy embryo to implant properly (Hatch, 2019). Water is also very important when it comes to a woman’s hormones. Our hormones travel through our body in our blood. Our blood is mostly made up of water. If we are not hydrating ourselves properly, we could be keeping necessary hormones from reaching their destinations like they should be (Hatch, 2019).
Affects of Male Fertility
Dehydration can negatively affect male fertility too. Not drinking enough water can affect men’s hormones similarly to how it affects women. If a man is not drinking enough water to flush toxins out, it can cause an imbalance in his hormones. Imbalanced hormones can cause decreased sperm count (Hatch, 2019). Only 1-5% of a man’s semen is the sperm. The rest of the semen is water and other nutrients and chemicals to help support the sperm once it has entered a woman’s body (Hatch, 2019). Improper hydration will cause thicker semen which in turn could decrease the number of sperm. Then, because the semen is thicker, that means it may make it more difficult for the sperm to make it to the egg making it even harder to conceive (Hatch, 2019).
Hydration and Pregnancy
Once a woman is pregnant, that does not mean that she no longer should be worried about how much water she drinks. In fact, pregnant women are more likely to become dehydrated. The growing baby requires fluids and releases their own wastes and toxins. Then, morning sickness and other digestive issues could cause moms to lose a lot of fluids (Hatch, 2019). Expectant mothers who do not drink enough water may put their babies at higher risk or irreversible damage such as neurological deformities as well as miscarriages or premature delivery (Hatch, 2019). So, it is even more important to stay hydrated once you get your big fat positive!
Changes I Have Noticed
I have been keeping hydrated for only a couple of weeks. However, I have already noticed a couple of changes.
My skin has drastically changed in this short amount of time. My entire body just feels softer and healthier. Last week, my face broke out a lot. However, it was not due to hormones. When all the articles talk about how the skin on your face clears up, I don’t think they ever really discuss how it does so. At least for me, everything that was in my face has been pushed up and out. So, I had a lot more blemishes than usual on the surface of my face. I am still working on getting my face clear (I apparently had a lot of gunk in my pores), but I am noticing a difference. Even with the blemishes, my face is softer and the dark circles under my eyes have gotten better.
I have struggled with heart burn since I was a teen. It is a family curse and it does not matter what I eat or drink. It still hits me hard regularly. However, since increasing my daily water intake I have noticed that my heart burn is not as bad or frequent anymore. I have even skipped my Prilosec for a couple of days to see if I have made any significant improvements. However, I will admit, that I cannot go more than three days without Prilosec, but it is an improvement! I also do not struggle nearly as much with indigestion and my bathroom habits have become regular.
I have struggled with fatigue for more than 10 years. It may be something that I will have to deal with my whole life. But, since I have been drinking more water, I have been feeling more energized more often than I used to. I do feel like I have become more productive during the day as well. Mornings are still rough for me though. I have such a hard time getting myself out of bed and starting the day. But, once I can get myself moving, I am feeling a lot better. Again, improvement!
In addition to the fatigue, I struggle with widespread pain. Staying hydrated has helped reduce my pain quite a bit. I still have some nerve pain, but the stiffness and muscle soreness has decreased a lot. This has also probably helped increase my energy.
Change in Body Composition
I do not weigh myself very often. I have a very bad relationship with the scale. The way my body is made, I will always be heavy no matter what my pant size tells me. But, I did weigh myself the other day and I have NOT seen a difference on the scale. However, I have noticed a difference in my body composition since I started drinking more water. The waist and thighs have slimmed down a couple of inches in just a matter of two weeks. I have also gone down one pant size. I have not changed my diet any and I only just now started back with my cardio. Everyone is different though, so my results may not be the same as someone else’s.
Hydrated and Healthy
Drinking plenty of water is necessary for your body to function properly. Drinking enough water for your body can positively affect all kinds of different functions. In this blog post, I will be sharing what drinking plenty of water can do for your body.
Why a Gallon a Day?
I stated earlier that my goal is to drink a gallon of water a day. Why a gallon though? Because of my height, weight, and activity level my fitness app and Aqualert app calculated that I needed to drink 127 oz of water daily to stay properly hydrated. There are 128 oz of in a gallon. So, for me the gallon a day goal is very practical.
However, there are experts that recommend that everyone drink a gallon of water a day regardless of height, weight, and activity level to help with the parts of the body I listed above. But, I recommend you talk to your health care professional to figure out how much water you need for your body. You can also check out apps like Aqualert. You put some information (height, weight, age, activity level, etc.) in the app and it calculates how much water you need to take in per day. The app can also be set up to remind you when to drink some water.
How I’m Doing it
My days start at 5 a.m. when I am trying to get my hubby up and out the door for work. So, within an hour of being up I try to consume at least 16-32 oz of water. I then always keep a bottle or my water jug with me to sip on throughout the day. When I take my daily vitamins, I make sure I drink at least 16 oz to help get my vitamins down. That is usually after eating lunch too, so that water will help me digest my meal better. Then, when I decide it is time to drink water, I try to take in about 16 oz at a time in a span of about 5-10 minutes. A gallon cannot be easily consumed (by me anyway) by just sipping. I have to be committed.
I have made a habit of using a reusable bottle to help keep me hydrated. I also purchased one for my husband with a filter built into it. My husband takes the bottle to work with him and his water sources aren’t always filtered like the water we have at home. These reusable bottles have been very helpful in maintaining the healthy habit.
I purchased a 64 oz stainless steel water jug to keep on me throughout the day. This was purchased for convenience because I did not want to have to get up multiple times a day or stop what I was doing to refill a smaller water bottle. It might be weird, but it was keeping me from drinking enough water throughout the day. Most of my days are very busy and I just do not want to stop to refill a bottle of water. With the larger jug, I only need to fill my tank twice a day. I do keep the 16.9 oz bottle in my purse because my jug can be rather heavy, and I really don’t want to lug it around all the time. Keeping easy access to water will always encourage me to drink throughout the day.
I am trying my best to reduce my use of plastic. I am doing so because I do not like that a lot of plastic products can leech into our foods and water (even some of the BPA free plastics). Those chemicals can cause endocrine problems in people and I would like to reduce my risk of issues. I am also trying to reduce my use of plastics for the environment. Using reusable bottle and cups reduces the number of bottles that need to be processed at recycling plants or end up in landfills or in our oceans. If I were to drink solely from single use bottles (which I did in the past) I would need to drink at least 8 per day. I have not gone zero waste yet, but I am trying very hard. Any reduction of waste is a step in the right direction though.
I think it is safe to say that we all understand how important water is for us. But, sometimes life just gets in the way from us doing what is best for our bodies. I have been very guilty of that lately for a lot of different things. But, taking the time to make small changes can make all the difference. It was difficult for the first couple of days to get into the habit of drinking so much water, but it is getting easier with each passing day. I have already noticed some great differences and I look forward to what a month of proper hydration will do for me. Then, I really can’t wait was multiple months and even a year of proper hydration will do for me. I recommend that you try drinking more water for a week and then see how much better you can feel because of it.
Questions of the Week
Do you think you drink enough water? What do you do to ensure you are staying hydrated?
Hatch, J. (2019, January 22). Dehydration Might Be Causing Your Infertility. Retrieved from https://hydrationanywhere.com/dehydration-might-be-causing-your-infertility/
Huizen, J. (2018, June 28). 6 reasons why drinking water can help you to lose weight. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322296.php
McIntosh, J. (2018, July 16). 15 benefits of drinking water and other water facts. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290814.php