Water is important. Shocker! That is a simple, simple sentence, but it could not be more understated. Water is vital. Our body’s are composed of apporoximatley 2/3 water, so it makes sense that we rely on this foundational substance for a lot of our bodily functions.
A lot of us don’t get enough water during the day. Many of my clients initially report that they only drink 1 or 2 cups the entire day! (Silver lining: what’s great about such a low intake is the drastic improvement they notice when they increase their intake.)
To add insult to injury, common beverages of choice like coffee or caffeinated tea actually have a dehydrating effect on the body. For example, 1 cup of coffee = 2 cups of water loss from the body. For those that barely get 2 cups, you’re at a deficit already.
Many know the common side effects that come with not drinking enough water: parched mouth, dry skin or headaches, but there are many effects that are less commonly realized.
3 lesser-known consequences of dehydration:
1) You Crave Sweets
Dehydration depletes your body of vital nutrients necessary to keep you running efficiently. The result? Lower energy, lethargy and an all around blah feeling. So we turn to foods that will give us an instant 'kick', ie. "sugar high". Cut to: the candy bar being purchased and devoured...wahwah. Unfortunately, this will wind up sending you on a blood sugar rollercoaster, just adding insult to injury.
Weight loss side note: Not drinking enough water can signiificantly impede any weight loss you might be trying to achieve, and those intense sweet cravings could be significantly reduced if you remember to drink your water!
This may seem obvious, but many people who suffer from constipation don’t think of water intake off the bat, and instead go to laxatives. Water is essential to alleviate constipation; it helps move the food you eat through your digestive system. Part of the colon’s job (the food’s last stop in the digestive system) is to absorb some of the water from your feces (ie. poo). If you’re dehydrated: your colon will soak up any water it can from your poo and as a result there won’t be enough water to keep things running smoothly (literally).
Side note: the more constipated you are, the more likely you are to suffer from skin issues, such as acne. Yet another reason to drink more water!
3) Increased Cholesterol
Could lowering your cholesterol be as simple as consuming more water? Maybe!! Our body is composed of trillion of cells, and our cells have this 'guard' system called the phospholipid bilayer (remember biology class?!) filled with fatty acids, that allow nutrients into the cells and wastes out. Cholesterol (which is waxy and firm) also makes up that protective layer, adding firmness as needed. TOO firm, as in TOO much cholesterol being part of the layer, and the “gates” of the cell essentially close up, so nutrients don’t get in, and wastes don’t get out. Doesn’t seem logical right? Why would that happen?.... Dehydration!!!
When the body doesn’t get enough water, the cell’s do everything they can to protect themselves and hold to as much water as they can. How do they protect themselves? By making their gates (bilayer) more sturdy so nothing can escape; consequently nothing gets in either. And so, more cholesterol is produced to add solidity to the bilayer – AN INCREASE IN CHOLESTEROL. Drink more water, let the cells know that they have enough, and they will release (some) cholesterol from the cells allowing the exchange of nutrients and wastes to happen once more.
Your water goal:
Aim for at least 2L per day (roughly 8 glasses of water). Make sure you’re having a glass at least every hour.
Keep a steel bottle or mason jar (not plastic) on hand at all times. Keep one at work!
Herbal teas (not caffeinated) are a way to switch it up, and stay hydrated. My favourite is peppermint, it's calming and helps soothe the digestive system.
Fruit or veggie infusions. Place some lemon wedges, berries of choice or cucumbers in your water and shake it up!
That’s it for now, go drink!!