The Surprising Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated

Drink up! Besides quenching your thirst, proper hydration gives you more energy, a better memory and could even help you combat your next cold.

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The Benefits of Staying Hydrated

Determining how much water you need on a daily basis depends on several factors, including your weight, the climate where you live and how often you exercise. The clearest sign that you’re adequately hydrated is transparent yellow or pale urine. If yours is a darker yellow, you probably need to start drinking more. The common rule of thumb that one should drink eight 250-millilitre glasses a day is a good place to start—and these benefits of staying hydrated should follow.

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You’ll Have More Energy

Water helps keep up a steady flow of nutrients into your cells, which boosts your energy. According to a review of hydration research from the University of North Carolina and Tufts University, when you’re dehydrated, this process is hampered—cell membranes become less permeable, affecting your physical and mental perform­ance and making you feel sluggish.

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You’re More Like to Perform at Your Peak

Water helps your muscles maintain the right balance of electrolytes—like sodium, potassium and magnesium—to function properly. Without water, you’re more prone to cramping, and research suggests that even low levels of dehydration impair physical perform­ance when exercising.

Here’s what can happen when you start walking 10,000 steps a day.

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You Might Overeat Less Often

A 2016 study from the University of Illinois involving more than 18,000 adults found that when people increased their daily water intake by 250 to 750 millilitres (on top of the litre they drank on average), they consumed as many as 205 fewer calories a day.

Here’s more expert advice on how to eat less—the healthy way.

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Your Memory May Improve

Our brains are hugely dependent on fluid—synapses and neurons need liquid to fire properly. According to a 2006 study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, dehydration negatively impacts cognitive performance in children. The research isn’t as definitive yet for adults, but it can’t hurt to assume it’ll help us, too.

Find out what can happen when you start drinking eight glasses of water a day.

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You’ll Better Combat Cold Symptoms

There’s a reason your doctor tells you to drink more when you’re getting sick. As your body launches its attack against germs, your cells need to be properly hydrated to maintain that effort. Drinking water also helps loosen mucus, which keeps your nose and throat moist.

Discover eight science-backed ways to boost your immune system.

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You’ll Keep Things Regular

“Water interacts with dietary fibre in the digestive tract to bulk stools,” says Dr. Jordan J. Karlitz, professor of clinical medicine at the Tulane Cancer Center in Louisiana. So by staying hydrated, among other proactive measures, you can reduce the risk of constipation and keep things moving along.

Now that you know the benefits of staying hydrated, check out nine hydrating drinks that aren’t water.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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