We’ve heard it incessantly over the past few years. Life’s magic potion – it’s water. Are you tired? “You probably need more water”. Skin breakout? “Have you been drinking enough water?”. Completely uninspired and lacking in motivation to do anything whatsoever? “Drink your water!”.
Although drinking more water now comes with fancy chilled bottles and apps to track your progress, it really isn’t just a fad. Researchers at the University of East London have found that your brain is better able to focus when it is properly and regularly hydrated. The trial tested two groups of people after eating a meal, with only one of the groups permitted to drink water with their meal. It found that the better-hydrated group performed 14% quicker in subsequent cognitive tests.1
Just like other organs in the body, the brain needs fuel to function effectively, and the fuel it requires is water. When fully hydrated, the exchange of nutrients and toxins within the brain is highly efficient, with the result being better concentration and greater mental alertness. However, our brain doesn’t have a storage tank, so for optimal brain function, it needs to be fuelled regularly. When the brain is functioning on a full reserve of water and is being topped up frequently, we can think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity.
The advice is clear: For a healthy body, healthy mind and an easy way to beat the post-festive slump, keep your hydration levels high.
We’ve all heard the ‘8 glasses a day’ rule when it comes to drinking water, but how much exactly should we be consuming? The NHS advises that in climates such as the UK, we should be aiming for 6-8 glasses, or 1.2 litres per day to keep us sufficiently hydrated.
In hotter weather, or during exercise, it’s important to take in more water to ensure you don’t get dehydrated. And for those not keen on the taste of water, or lack off, sugar-free drinks, tea and coffee and low-fat milk all count towards upping your hydration habits.
Keeping your brain at optimum performance isn’t the only reason why drinking water is so important. Some other benefits of drinking enough water regularly are:
It acts as a lubricant for your joints. Cartilage, which is found in your joints, and also the disks of your spine, contains around 80% water. Joint pain can sometimes stem from long term dehydration reducing your joints shock-absorbing ability.
Another resolution that often tops the lists come January is to reduce junk food. You’ll have likely heard that we often feel hungry when in fact we’re just dehydrated. Making sure you’re keeping regularly topped up with fluids may combat those moments you find yourself staring into the fridge between meals.
As dehydration greatly affects all the systems in your body, it should come as no surprise this includes your respiratory system. By drinking enough water, you keep your airways and lungs clear by thinning the mucus lining. Not getting your daily water fix can cause that mucus to get sticky and thicken in your airways making you more susceptible to allergies, illness and a variety of other respiratory problems.
Although it can be tempting to buy into the fashion statement of drinking water with a temperature-regulating water bottle and turning on hourly alerts, there are some simple ways to ensure you’re getting what you need.
A jug of chilled water kept in the fridge can remind you to top up your glass whenever you are preparing a meal. For cities with hard water, a filtered jug can help to make the taste more palatable, although it isn’t a necessity. Tap water in the UK is some of the cleanest in the world with strict regulation and state-of-the-art filtration systems meaning 99.96% of samples are meeting the required standards.
Help meet two of your daily goals at once by infusing your drink of water with some fresh fruits. As fruit is largely made up of water, it will directly help with hydration as well as giving an added zing to your drink and working towards your 5-a-day.
Drinking water can become second nature when you establish consumption as a habit. Think of a time where you can fit in an extra glass without putting out your schedule. Perhaps this could be during the ad-break of your favourite tv programme, whilst you are making dinner or filling a reusable bottle every time you leave the house.
1 - Study by the University of East London