We have a big problem. (The “we” here being those of us in the developed world, for the most part.)
So many of us live in a constant state of searching for health. We feel overwhelmingly tired and achy. We have brain fog and blotchy skin. We have weight issues. We shell out big cash for supplements and shakes and gyms. All to little (or no) benefit.
We feel so crappy (for lack of a better word) that it’s almost impossible for us to believe that relief could be easy.
Don’t hold the sensational title of this post against me… But let’s talk about water.
Why are we ignoring water?
This is speculation here, but I think we overlook water for a number of reasons:
- We THINK we are getting enough – but we don’t really know what enough is. (That’s probably our biggest mistake. None of us are ignoring our health on purpose, right?)
- We underestimate the benefits of drinking water because we’ve never taken the time to really learn what water means to our bodies.
- It’s so readily available to us that we don’t consider it a miracle drink.
- We don’t like water… because we have programmed our bodies to like tea, coffee, pop, juice and everything BUT water.
- We are a little lazy, we think it’s hard, and we don’t want to bother drinking it.
Are you getting enough water?
If you automatically assume you’re drinking enough water, without being intentional about how much you drink, then you probably aren’t.
Counting coffee (or tea or juice) as a good water replacement, because it’s made with water, is also a huge mistake! Yes, our bodies will extract the water from those things – if you were stranded on a dessert island, those things would keep you alive.
But your goal shouldn’t be “stay alive” while surrounded by accessible water. Your goal should be “feel great”. The extra burden we put on or bodies, of processing coffee, tea, juice and especially pop, takes away from some of the amazing benefits you could be seeing if you drank plain water instead.
If you feel great all the time, have lots of energy, are rarely thirsty, and pee often – very light colored or clear pee – then you might actually be getting enough water.
If you are tired, have headaches, digestive issues, muscle aches and pains, trouble sleeping, or dull / dry skin, you probably aren’t getting enough. Water should be the first thing you turn to for health improvement.
Find your bare minimum water intake by dividing your weight (in pounds) in two and THAT is how many ounces of water you should be taking in daily (minimum). So a 160 lb person actually needs 80 ounces of water, which would be TEN 8 oz glasses of water in the day.
If you are very physically active or breastfeeding you will need MORE water.
It really is a miracle drink – the benefits of drinking water
When I was in high school (so…. some years ago, I guess) I read a book – You Are Not Sick, You’re Thirsty, and it really opened my eyes to the benefits of water. It’s a freaking fascinating read!
The author (an MD) claims chronic dehydration – our general state in North America, by the way – can cause asthma, allergies, arthritis, hypertension, depression, headaches, diabetes, obesity, and MS among heaps of other nasty stuff.
So I was really fortunate to get into the water drinking habit young. I can honestly say that I feel good most of the time. I am not generally tired, I have good skin, I don’t battle my weight. (I didn’t really realize how rare of a thing this was!)
(There are other factors to this too; I try to keep my sugar intake down, I do cardio regularly, and I try to eat whole foods and take good quality supplements. But I am still firmly convinced that water is the foundation for the health of my body.)
When I don’t drink water during the day, I feel crappy that evening. My body is addicted to water! (Well, it’s addicted to knowing what our bodies are supposed to feel like.)
Every “water drinking article” out there goes into great depth about the health benefits of water – so I thought rather than hash them all out again, I’d just make a funky infographic.
(FYI, I realize I’m saying some pretty amazing things about water. SO if you are curious as to where I got my information, check out this study – Water, Hydration & Health and this one (mostly about the benefits of PLAIN water for weight loss). For good measure, here’s a nifty infographic from the mayo clinic.)
Should you start drinking more water?
I approached the whole “drinking water thing” with one of my favorite life principles: What have I got to lose? Why not try it? And I think that’s how you should approach it too.
I’m a bad blogger. (It’s supposed to be my “job” to get you to agree with whatever I’m talking about, and maybe even make some money by convincing you to buy into my idea somehow.) But I’m a bad blogger, because I’m not going to try to convince you that water is what you need. You are a super smart cookie, and you can decide for yourself if water is what you need.
I will point out though, that if you are blessed to live in a country where water is free and plentiful, then you have nothing to lose by giving it a shot. If you drink 8 8oz glasses of water a day for a month and you don’t see a single improvement in your health, then quit if you don’t like it.
The body is more than 75% water. (Blood is more than 90% water!) If you can’t see why it would be necessary to make sure your body has enough water to function properly, I can’t imagine what I could possibly say to change your mind.
If you don’t want to drink more water, then don’t.
But if you DO wanna drink more water, just to see if you can reap some of the benefits of drinking water) and just can’t seem to get it done, well, that’s another thing.
Great ways to get yourself to drink more water
Drinking water is a good habit, and like all good habits, you just gotta work on developing it. Do whatever it takes!
I am not a sipper. Never have been. If I relied on sipping water all day to get enough in, it wouldn’t ever happen. But I can stand at the sink and down a glass of water in about 10 seconds. So (when I’m at home), I’ve developed the habit of chugging glasses of water. One first thing in the morning (- that really wakes me up). One as soon as I walk in the door. And about 6 more during the time I get home from work until the time I go to bed. (To where I also take a glass of water, and if I wake up in the night, I have it there with me.) I drink more than the 8 glasses per day, for sure.
Things you can do to help yourself develop a good water drinking habit –
- Take it with you. (I never leave the house without a bottle of water. We have 5 of these freaking awesome water bottles and we both take water with us each day to work.)
- Set a timer on your phone, for every hour. Drink when it goes off. (OR download an app – I know they’re out there!)
- Start a water drinking challenge with some friends (to keep you accountable). Here’s a (free) pretty printable you can use to keep track.
- If you can’t stand the taste of plain water, adding squeezed lemon juice or cucumber slices won’t hurt. Here’s a list of 40 fruit infused water ideas!
- Invest in some sort of filtration system that makes your water taste better – and removes chemicals. (We put in a reverse osmosis system – it cost a lot, but our health is worth it. It ensures that we ACTUALLY drink the water.) I’ve often thought something like this would be just as good and waaayyyyy cheaper. (Or perhaps even better, since the minerals it puts into the water are really good for you, and RO systems take minerals out.)
- Remind yourself that you’re doing this for a reason. You want to feel good, to treat your body well. (Read You Are Not Sick, You’re Thirsty if you need a little more encouragement.)
It might sound like the most impossible thing for you to believe right now, but I don’t find anything but water truly thirst quenching anymore. Pop (or anything sugary) actually makes me thirsty. (Side note, if you are a regular pop drinker, that is a whole ‘nother post and there are about 147 reasons you need to stop. But even if you can’t stop right now, try to have at least two glasses of water for every glass of pop you drink.)
So how bout this whole water drinking thing? Try it. What have you got to lose? (Besides headaches, fatigue, fat, and brain fog of course.)