Research reveals 5 reasons why you should start your day by drinking water.
Water is essential to life. In fact, it’s often called the most essential of all nutrients.
It’s estimated that water makes up 60 to 70 percent of the human body, so it stands to reason that proper hydration is essential to good health.
But as you go about your day, you lose water through the body’s natural processes, such as respiration, perspiration, urination, and bowel movements. Certain foods, such as sweets, as well as certain beverages, such as alcohol or coffee, can increase the excretion of water from your body. In addition, certain medications, as well as a diet high in sodium, can also contribute to dehydration.
If you don’t take in enough water to make up for this loss, your body will end up in a state of dehydration.
Why Drinking Water in the Morning Is Important
If you’ve ever awakened in the morning feeling like your mouth was dry and parched, it may be your body telling you it needs water. Besides increased thirst, other signs of mild dehydration include a dry tongue, lips, and throat; a dull headache; dizziness; decreased urination; and urine that’s darker and more concentrated than usual.
After being in a state of fasting all night, and especially if you get up to urinate or if you become overheated while sleeping, your body will likely be in a state of mild dehydration. That’s why it’s a good idea to start the day right by hydrating your body. And fortunately, when your stomach is empty in the morning, your body is able to absorb water more rapidly.
So let’s look at some of the ways water gives your mind and body a boost in the morning.
1. It Improves Your Mental Performance
The human brain is about 75 percent water. So it should come as no surprise that hydration plays an important role in cognitive function. Many people don’t fully realize just how significant an impact water can have on their ability to think clearly.
According to a 2019 study in the journal Psychological Research, “Water supplementation was found to improve performance on tasks measuring cognitive reflection in judgment and decision-making.”
Another study published in Nutrition Reviews in 2006 found that even mild dehydration of 1 to 2 percent body weight loss in young adults can cause significant cognitive impairment. The study also noted the importance of hydration in infants and children, stating, “Dehydration in infants is associated with confusion, irritability, and lethargy; in children, it may produce decrements in cognitive performance.”
In the elderly population, dehydration is a significant risk factor for delirium, and it can even mimic dementia. Particularly for patients in nursing homes, who may be overmedicated and underhydrated, dehydration may pose an even more serious risk.
2. It Promotes Weight Loss
One benefit of water is that even though it has no calories, it can still help you feel full. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to mistake thirst for hunger, leading them to eat more food—and more calories—than their body really needs.
A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that drinking water before breakfast led to a 13 percent reduction in caloric intake when consuming the next meal. Another study showed a reduction in the number of calories consumed by older adults when they drank water 30 minutes before having lunch. Researchers postulated that if water was consumed before each of three meals a day, it could result in a reduction of 180 calories per day.
3. It Lifts Your Mood
We might not think of water as being something that can affect our moods, but studies have indeed found this to be the case. A 2011 study in The Journal of Nutrition that looked at female subjects, found that mild dehydration led to “degraded mood, increased perception of task difficulty, lower concentration, and headache symptoms.”
Dehydration was even found to be subjectively related to feeling fatigued, confused, and angry.
4. It’s Good for Your Gut
Drinking water is a great way to flush out your bowels in the morning. It helps prevent constipation and also helps break down foods, allowing for better absorption of nutrients.
Additionally, a study in The Journal of Nutrition in January showed that “drinking water may be an important factor in shaping the human gut microbiome.” This study concluded that water was a key contributing factor in the diversity of the gut’s microflora, which, in turn, affects everything from mood to immunity, and more.
5. It Helps Ward Off Disease
Water helps flush toxins out of your body, including pathogens, thus helping improve your immune system. Staying hydrated also helps keep your kidneys functioning properly, reduces your risk of urinary tract infections, and lessens headaches.
It may also play a role in chronic disease. While more studies need to be done, there is at least some correlation between good hydration and things such as improved blood pressure, a decreased risk of fatal heart attacks, and a reduced incidence of blood clots and strokes.
How Much Is Enough?
While needs vary between individuals, experts generally agree that drinking an average of eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is adequate, while others say the number should be calculated by dividing your body weight by half and drinking that amount of water in ounces. Of course, on days when you exercise or when the weather’s hot and you perspire, your body’s requirements for water will increase. It’s also important to note that there is such a thing as too much water, so balance is key.
As you go about your day, you can also consume high-water content foods, such as watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, peaches, and grapefruit (perhaps it’s no accident these foods grow when the weather is warm and we need more hydration). Some other foods high in water content include soups and broths, cottage cheese, and yogurt.
So the next time you get out of bed in the morning, reach for a tall glass of water. Your body and mind will thank you.
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