We all know that water is good for us, but often the reasons are a little fuzzy. And even if we know why we should drink water, it's not a habit that many people form.
But there are some very powerful reasons to drink lots of water every day, and forming the habit isn't hard, with a little focus.
The thing about it is, we don't often focus on this habit. We end up drinking coffee, and lots of soda, and alcohol, not to mention fruit juices and teas and milk and a bunch of other possibilities. Or just as often, we don't drink enough fluids, and we become dehydrated -- and that isn't good for our health.
I've made drinking water a daily habit, although I will admit that a couple of years ago I was more likely to drink anything but water. Now I don't drink anything but water, except for a cup of coffee in the morning and once in awhile a beer with dinner. I love it.
Here are 9 powerful reasons to drink water (with tips on how to form the water habit afterwards):
- Weight loss
Water is one of the best tools for weight loss, first of all because it often replaces high-calorie drinks like soda and juice and alcohol with a drink that doesn't have any calories. But it's also a great appetite suppressant, and often when we think we're hungry, we're actually just thirsty. Water has no fat, no calories, no carbs, no sugar. Drink plenty to help your weight-loss regimen.
- Heart healthy
Drinking a good amount of water could lower your risks of a heart attack. A six-year study published in the May 1, 2002 American Journal of Epidemiology found that those who drink more than 5 glasses of water a day were 41% less likely to die from a heart attack during the study period than those who drank less than two glasses.
Being dehydrated can sap your energy and make you feel tired -- even mild dehydration of as little as 1 or 2 percent of your body weight. If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated -- and this can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, dizziness and other symptoms.
- Headache cure
Another symptom of dehydration is headaches. In fact, often when we have headaches it's simply a matter of not drinking enough water. There are lots of other causes of headaches of course, but dehydration is a common one.
- Healthy skin
Drinking water can clear up your skin and people often report a healthy glow after drinking water. It won't happen overnight, of course, but just a week of drinking a healthy amount of water can have good effects on your skin.
- Digestive problems
Our digestive systems need a good amount of water to digest food properly. Often water can help cure stomach acid problems, and water along with fiber can cure constipation (often a result of dehydration).
Water is used by the body to help flush out toxins and waste products from the body.
- Cancer risk
Related to the digestive system item above, drinking a healthy amount of water has also been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer by 45%. Drinking lots of water can also reduce the risk of bladder cancer by 50% and potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer.
- Better exercise
Being dehydrated can severely hamper your athletic activities, slowing you down and making it harder to lift weights. Exercise requires additional water, so be sure to hydrate before, during and after exercise.
How to form the water habit
So you're convinced that water is healthier, but you'd like to know more about how to make drinking water a daily habit.
Here are some tips that have helped me:
- How much water?
This is a debatable question. What's clear is that the old recommendation of eight 8-ounce glasses a day isn't right, for several reasons: that amount includes all dietary water intake, including food and non-water beverages; it also ignores a person's body weight, which is an important factor in figuring the amount; it also varies if you are sick or exercise. It's also not good to just drink when you're thirsty -- you're already dehydrated by then. Best is to form a routine: drink a glass when you wake up, a glass with each meal, a glass in between meals, and be sure to drink before, during and after exercise. Try to generally keep yourself from getting thirsty.
- Carry a bottle
A lot of people find it useful to get a big plastic drinking bottle, fill it with water, and carry it around with them all day. I like to keep a glass of water at my desk, and I drink from it all day long. When it's empty, I fill it up again, and keep drinking.
- Set a reminder
Set your watch to beep at the top of each hour, or set a periodic computer reminder, so that you don't forget to drink water.
- Substitute water
If you would normally get a soda, or an alcoholic beverage, get a glass of water instead. Try sparkling water instead of alcohol at social functions.
Instead of spending a fortune on bottled water, invest in a filter for your home faucet. It'll make tap water taste like bottled, at a fraction of the price.
Exercising can help make you want to drink water more. It's not necessary to drink sports drinks like Gatorade when you exercise, unless you are doing it for more than an hour. Just drink water. If you're going to exercise, be sure to drink water a couple hours ahead of time, so that it will get through your system in time, and again, drink during and after exercise as well.
- Track it
It often helps, when forming a new habit, to keep track of it -- it increases awareness and helps you ensure that you're staying on track. Keep a little log (it can be done on an index card or a notebook), which can be as simple as a tick mark for each glass of water you drink.