Winter is officially here. The temperature has dropped, the sun rises later and sets earlier, the leaves are crisp and cosy knits are everywhere (yay!), as is the sound of… coughing and sniffing.
The common cold is accepted as being ubiquitous with Winter, but it doesn’t have to be; and good old H2O can help with that. Did you know that drinking hot water and lemon (plus honey/ginger/turmeric, if you’re me) during the colder months can actually help with your body’s natural immune-boosting properties, keeping you healthy when Winter colds and flus are around?
I recently mentioned drinking water as being key to keeping healthy in an Irish News interview and it spurred scores of messages from readers. Water is our body’s first fuel; it helps with toxic elimination, regulates our temperature and blood flow and it maintains our metabolism, among myriad other things, so as a massive water advocate, I thought I would pen some super valid reasons for gulping your daily H2O.
Here are just 12 reasons to drink more water today – and EVERY day:
1. IT GIVES GREAT SKIN! I’ve been writing beauty articles and reviews for almost 10 years now and always champion water before (or alongside) beauty products for the best skin. Water makes up a massive 60% of our bodies, so when our skin (which is of course the body’s largest organ) is hydrated, it looks plumper and lustrous as opposed to dull, flaky or sallow skin which is dehydrated. Drinking more water helps productivity of our cells which in turn gives us healthier looking skin – it’s a win-win situation!
2. IT BOOSTS BRAIN POWER. Drinking water can give you a productivity boost. Research found that water has the ability to increase grey matter in the brain and therefore drinking enough water can make you 14% more productive. So fill up that water bottle and drink up – you’ll be thrilled when you can finally submit that work ahead of deadline…
3. IT’S ANTI INFLAMATORY Certain toxins in the body can cause the skin to inflame which results in clogged pores. Water flushes out these toxins and can reduce the risk of pimples, leaving your skin crystal clear.
4. IT HELPS WITH TIREDNESS Feeling tired? Although we all tend to reach for endless cups of coffee and sugar when we feel that 3pm slump, water can actually fight those tired eyes too! One of the most common signs of dehydration is tiredness, so push that coffee away and down a glass or two of water for an instant wake up call.
5. IT DECREASES ‘HUNGER’ You know that feeling when it’s not long after a meal but you feel hungry? Chances are you’re just thirsty, so by drinking more water you will stop mistaking thirst for hunger. Also, drinking water boosts your metabolism so you can drop kilos faster if you’re watching your weight.
6. IT TAKES TOXINS TO TASK Our kidneys process 200 litres of blood daily, sifting out waste and transporting urine to the bladder where toxins and waste are expelled in our pee; but these hardworking kidneys need enough fluids to clear away what we don’t need in the body. And speaking of peeing, a simple way to check out your hydration levels is to look into the loo when you’re done. Remembering that there is already water in the toilet bowl (and so the colour is diluted when you look at it), your urine should be lightly coloured to be healthy. Anything denser in colour than a pastel yellow, gold or even green (if you’re me and eat loads of greens) means you are not drinking enough water – so let’s drink to that!
7. IT AIDS DIGESTION Stomach not feeling right? Drinking water helps improve digestion. Regardless of how many leafy greens you eat or probiotics you take, if you aren’t hydrating, your digestive system just won’t function properly. You should always drink water during and after a meal to help the body break down your food. When you drink more water, uou’ll notice your stools are softer too (sorry if that is TMI!) And double apologies to those sensitive to oversharing, but the state of your stools can be a key indicator of hydration levels. Healthy, hydrated poops should most definitely be soft and not difficult to pass, so before reaching for the dates if you’re constipated, try drinking a litre of water first. A good fitness friend Kim Constable (@thesculptedvegan on Instagram) says your number twos should be the length of your forearm. Yip, from wrist to elbow people. I think I’ll stop there though.
8. HYDRATION IMPROVES SLEEP Struggling to sleep? Drinking water throughout the day helps balance minerals, vitamins and nutrients, balancing your hormones in the process. Keep water on your bedside table and drink up before bed and again if you wake up in the middle of the night, you’ll be thankful when you wake up rested, refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Make sure to empty your bladder before sleeping also (and sit an extra minute on the loo to make sure you properly relax and expel everything before you go to bed).
9. IT RELEIVES CRAMPS AND ACHES Crampy, achy or sore? Hydrate! Research suggests that there is a correlation between joint pain and dehydration as water lubricates the joints. If you find yourself achy and sore no matter how much you stretch you may just not be drinking enough water, so make sure you hydrate before, during and after your workout. Also when we work out we sweat and when muscles don’t have enough water they get tired, so drink plenty of water to give you more energy to push out that final set of squats! And if you feel a headache coming on, the first thing you should do is hydrate as a headache is often a sign of dehydration. Personally, I get crazy foot cramps if I am not hydrated enough – and they last for up to 15mins at a time. The ONLY thing that relieves them is drinking as much water as possible, often 750ml if I can down it through the pain!
10. IT MAKES YOU GET UP FROM YOUR SEAT. Move it! Sitting is the new smoking, or so say the experts, and our sedentary lifestyle is killing us. Literally. Our bodies need to keep moving, so if you tend to sit at a desk for the most part of the day drinking water can make you get up as you will need to nip to the toilet more often. Taking short walks throughout the day is also great for your mental health, so why not grab your trainers and head out for a walk on your lunch hour? The gentle exercise and fresh air will give you a refreshing boost and help tackle the afternoon ahead.
11. ITS IN THE TASTIEST OF FOODS: Eat up! I have actually heard people saying they don’t like the ‘taste’ of water. What?! For those people, a quick retraining of the taste buds through increased consumption of water will actually encourage better taste all round. But meanwhile, we can consume water easily by eating a combination of water-packed foods such as watermelon and cucumbers. This way you are getting the nutrients and fibre as well as hydration to help your body hold onto water more efficiently.
12. HANGOVERS GO QUICKER WITH WATER. Hangover 101… Don’t reach for coffee or fizzy drinks to help a hangover – they only dehydrate you more! Help a hangover out by drinking water to hydrate the body and get rid of that pounding headache… Plus, water will decrease the desire to eat all those salty, fatty foods we crave when we’re hungover – (see point number 5 above!). My tip? Think how many alcoholic drinks you had and drink at least that in water for the first few hours that you’re up.
A side note.
Advocates of Chinese Medicine, such as my friend Maria Rafferty (@thehormonehealthcoach on Instagram) are big believers in keeping the body and its fuel warm, and therefore promote drinking warm or room temperature water as opposed to cold. I love this theory and am super glad that I never, ever take ice in my water (or even in my G&T when I am having one). I try to drink warm water with lemon and honey (which also has great anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties) in the morning and again before bed – it is a wonderful habit to get into and I can safely say I rarely get sick these days, probably - at least in part - due to this habit.
The bottom line?
Two litres of water per day is the recommended daily amount, and there are plenty of apps around to help measure where you’re at with your targets, if you don’t want to keep track. (A cool 2L glass bottle on your desk also works wonders – just make sure you empty it every day. I love the very cool Memobottle, which costs £29.99 for a 750ml bottle and is available to buy here: https://www.thefowndry.com/products/memobottle
The key is to spread the consumption of water throughout the day and not down it all in one go. (I am guilty of realising that I am behind on my daily intake in the evening, then drink a litre at 9 or 10pm and am up in the night to pee!).
If you can make one positive change for your skin and your internal bodily health, then upping your water intake is it.