10 Reasons Why Proper Hydration Should be Your Number One Wellness Goal!

Water is second only to air as the number one need. Yet over 75% of Americans are considered chronically dehydrated {1}.

Perhaps it is the simplicity of the solution, drink more water. Or, maybe it is because we can't tell it's 'working' quite the way we can with a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine. It could be that we have conditioned ourselves out of finding pleasure partaking in the most natural, and necessary nutrient on the planet (and one we shouldn't take for granted when almost 1 Billion people on the planet don't have access to a clean drinking source).

But, regardless of the of the reason we don't drink enough water, and we should. In fact drinking more water, more than even changing your diet or your exercise routine, is the simplest change you can make that will improve your health physically AND mentally more than any other.

Here's why...

10 : Proper hydration makes you less irritable.

Yes, you read that correctly. Dehydration causes fatigue, mood swings, and is even linked to depression. When your brain is dehydrated it is zapped of its energy, and it has a harder time producing serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in everything from mood regulation, to sex drive, to sleep patterns {2}. A well hydrated brain isn't worried about conserving energy waiting for its thirst to be quenched. Instead it can function properly... and more fluidly ;)

9 : A hydrated body has less cravings

If you're watching what you eat, but you're not hydrating yourself properly, you may be fighting a losing battle. In fact when the body is in search of water, sometimes we can mistake those signals as hunger instead in attempt to meet the need.

8 : Hydration Lessens Your Stress

The stress of being thirsty is one of the strongest signals our brain can give us, just like being sleepy or hungry. A baseline need is not being met. Neglecting baseline needs, chronically, means living in a state of regular elevated stress. When we are stressed we are also more prone to make impulsive, and reactive decisions, which can derail other healthy habits we have adopted.

7 : Dehydrated muscles cramp faster and recover slower

If you are dehydrated after a workout the protein synthesis needed to rebuild and restore muscles is hindered {4}. Dehydrated muscles also cramp faster due to build up of waste products from working out, and their inability to easily flush away. So after a heavy workout, that soreness you feel could be attributed to crushing it in the gym... but at least some of that soreness is likely telling you that you need to seriously up your water game, bro.

6 : Dehydration may hinder fat loss

A study published in the Annals of Family Medicine {5} showed that inadequate hydration has a strong correlation to obesity. While researchers are still discovering new links and understanding the mechanisms that cause the strong associations, there are many variables at play that are likely factors.

One basic and very simple connection is simply one of volume. Ingesting water takes up volume in the stomach. Volume is gauged by receptors in the stomach that help signal to the brain when the organ is full and eating should stop.

Another plausible connection returns to the stress induced by chronic dehydration. The body is naturally more inclined to hang on to fat stores during times of stress as a survival mechanism.

5 : Dehydration increase your chances of kidney stones (ouch!)

Kidneys are crucial in eliminating waste and maintaining blood pressure. When we are dehydrated it become difficult for them to operate effectively. Kidney stones are also more likely to develop in a dehydrated environment due to mineral build up that is less regularly washed away with urination. Over time those build ups can create stones that settle and bond to the tissue in the kidney, bladder, urethra. No, thank you!

4 : Hydration maintains healthy metabolism

Down to a cellular level, hydration is effecting your body's ability to take in the chemicals they need to process and function. One important function is supports is maintaining a cell's sensitivity to insulin, and important hormone in metabolism. Insulin resistance is linked to Type 2 Diabetes (which differs from Type 1 diabetes which is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the pancreas and halts the body from producing insulin). Insulin resistance often leads to weight gain, vascular issues, and a host of other processes and problems related to metabolism. Properly hydrated cells are more likely to remain sensitive to the insulin they receiving allowing the metabolic systems of the body to perform more optimally.

3 : Proper hydration aids in digestion and elimination

This is pretty simple, but going to the bathroom is much more efficient and comfortable in a well hydrated body. Chronic dehydration can cause cramping, constipation, and also can effect your body's ability to pull vital nutrients from food in the digestion process.

2 : Heart rate recovery improves when you're well hydrated

A recent study showed that athletes who were well hydrated before, and during performance were able to bring their heart rate back to a resting active heart rate faster than their dehydrated counterpart. This is a significant finding as heart rate recovery is a key indicator in cardiovascular health {6}.

1 : Hydration keeps your heart beating properly

When your are well hydrated electrolyte levels are more likely to be well maintained. Electrolytes are crucial in continuing the beating of your heart (pretty important!). Keep your ticker in rhythm by maintaining proper hydration levels so that the only time it skips a beat is when you see someone special ;)

So what's the easiest way to gauge whether you are getting enough water? Well the bathroom of course. Yes, you should take a look at your pee (and honestly your poop too but that's for another blog). If your pee is the color of apple juice or darker, you need to up your water intake - stat! If it's the color of lemonade, you're in good shape.

{1} Survey of 3003 Americans, Nutrition Information Center, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center (April 14, 1998).

{2} https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1010346904526

[3] Benton, D. (2011). Dehydration influences mood and cognition: a plausible hypothesis?. Nutrients3(5), 555-573.

{4}Clark, Nancy. "Rehydrate after Exercise to Recover Faster." Http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/rehydrate-after-exercise-to-recover-faster. Human Kinetics, n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

{5} https://www.annfammed.org/content/14/4/320.full

{6} Moreno, Isadora Lessa, Celso Ferreira, Carlos Marcelo Pastre, Luiz Carlos De Abreu,, Vitor Engrácia Valenti, and Luiz Carlos Marques Vanderlei. "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition." Effects of an Isotonic Beverage on Autonomic Regulation during and after Exercise. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. 18 May 2016.

{7} https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/

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