Written by R. S Jacobs
Have you noticed that the health and fitness industry is largely focused on external physical health, but very little is discussed on how important internal health is in achieving our goals?
Remember as kids, our parents would always reiterate the importance of drinking water, even when all we want is to have a fizzy can like our friends. Like many other children, I certainly wasn’t a big fan of water because I didn’t see the point. I always thought that it was just another boring rule that parents force on you to make you miserable. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I came to discover the never-ending benefits of water. If I had known then what I know now, I would have started a long time ago, but like the classic saying goes “youth is wasted on the young”.
Let’s break it down to the basics – 70% of the earth is covered in water, the atmosphere is made up of water, this also includes the soil in the ground, and our body is no exception. The body is approximately 60% water, essential to the brain, heart, blood, muscles, bones, liver, kidneys and cells. Basically, water makes the world go round!
The cells in your body can’t survive without water and bear in mind that we have billions of cells in our body that are constantly regenerating and repairing. If you got stuck on an island, your body could survive without food for about 3-8 weeks, but you could die in a few days without water. Water is essential to flush toxins out of the body via the kidneys, as it ensures the kidneys completely clear the body of infections, impurities and pathogens. The purity of your blood is determined by how much water you consume on a daily basis and also water is crucial to the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.
Due to the fact that water never remain still or in one place at a time, it needs to be topped up regularly so it can be sent around the body to perform functions as the body requires. This is one of the reasons that we sweat, urinate and even exhale water. On a cold day, you can literally see water in the air as it condenses. During exercise or general physical activities that cause the heart rate to rise, your body temperature will also rise causing you to perspire, which is the home-made air conditioning unit for the body – water is at the very core of this process! Imagine you didn’t have enough water in your body, the little water you do have will get sent to perform essential functions such as the brain or heart, leaving other functions to suffer.
As your body filters out the used water carrying toxins, it is important that you regularly replenish your water levels to keep your body in a state of equilibrium. If your water levels fall below average, very quickly you will begin to have a decrease in the volume of blood in your body leaving you feeling tired and weak, which results in an array of symptoms such as headaches due to the reduced supply of blood to the brain. Not only that, at the same time, your kidneys and liver will start to struggle, which is immediately reflected in a dark yellow colour in your urine.
To ensure that your body has the required amount of water you need to drink about 8 glasses of water daily (a minimum of 2Ltr), but please be aware that this does not count coffee or caffeinated tea drinks. Despite the fact that coffee and caffeinated tea have water in them, they actually cause a diuretic effect which makes your body lose more water and sodium, thereby leaving you dehydrated. If you are someone who struggles to drink a lot of water, why not try including foods that have high water content, cucumber, for example, is roughly 96% water so it makes the perfect low-calorie snack to have during the day that also helps you get more water into your body. My suggestion would be to make it a habit of carrying a 500ml bottle of water around with you all the time, as this is a very easy amount of water to consume within an hour, and then aim to refill that bottle 4 times during the day.
An interesting fact that you might be interested to hear, a majority of the time when you feel hungry, it is actually a signal from the brain to ask for more water. Next time you are feeling peckish or even overwhelmed with hunger all of a sudden, pick up your bottle of water and you will be surprised at how quickly your hunger pangs fade away! Not only is that a great tip for staying hydrated and consuming empty calories, but it will train you to be more conscious of the signals your body is giving you and how to best listen to them.
Check out my top 7 reasons to drink more water:
* Aids digestion. One of the main goals in your fitness journey should be to maintain a balanced relationship with food and in turn achieve a strong healthy body. This begins with your stomach, specifically proper digestion, as the body won’t be able to extract essential nutrients and can lead to painful bloating or constipation. Water will enable your food to be broken down easily and ensure nutrients are efficiently transported as required whilst disposing of any non-essentials.
* Fat Loss. Drinking water significantly helps reduce overeating and is calorie free! Sometimes, when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty. So why not try to drink a glass of water before you eat as it will help you feel full before the end of your meal and reduce the urge to overindulge. In addition, having water in your stomach as you eat will help flush out the by-product of fats whilst considerably raising your metabolism.
* Natural Lubricant. In addition to water aiding digestion and other bodily functions, it is also essential for the production of saliva which is key to chewing and swallowing food. Water also helps prevent muscle cramps, lubricates the cartilage and bones. Even our eyes need water to ensure they can move effectively without any dryness or friction.
* Removes Toxins. When you are dehydrated, toxins begin to build up in your system. You will start to get headaches and generally feel quite lethargic. Your body needs to purge itself of toxins and remove free radicals from the system. With a proper detox process, you can guarantee that you will stay healthy by encouraging lower risk of diseases, infections and illnesses.
* Improves Skin. Water is often considered to be a natural fountain of youth elixir. With hydrated skin, you can prevent an acne breakout or any topical skin infections. Water is excellent at keeping your skin fresh, moisturised, soft and smooth. Who needs anti-aging cream when water will keep you looking younger for longer.
* Helps Regeneration. Your body is very resilient and is designed to heal itself – post workout recovery is significantly enhanced when your body has the required amount of water. In addition, your immune system will be in tip-top shape, designed to fight off illnesses, heart disease, naturally lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as a result of toxins being regularly flushed out of the body.
* Improves mood. Water promotes clearer mind and thought process, as your brain is made up of 75% water! Without water, your brain starts to slow down and leaves you feeling very foggy, fatigued, exhausted and generally very absent-minded. For those who suffer from a poor sleeping pattern, increasing water intake aid sleeping because your body is required to shut down to perform necessary detox functions overnight to ensure that you are recharged and ready for a new day. After a good night’s sleep, you are much less likely to be grumpy pants in the morning! An added bonus is that a well-hydrated brain not only helps to send clear signals around the body to perform necessary tasks but also releases endorphin which is basically happy hormones.
As important as water is to the body, you must be careful not to replace food with water in an attempt to lose weight quickly, and don’t over hydrate (Hyper-Hydration) as found in extreme cases – moderation is the key! Make sure you get the right amount daily and aim to incorporate it into your routine, don’t overlook the necessity of hydration or replace it with other beverages like tea, coffee or fruit juice. Why not try a slice of orange or lemon, or some fresh mint leaves with lime to make the water a bit tastier. I can guarantee that you will never go wrong if you drink at least 2Ltr of water daily, and make that step towards maintaining good internal health!
Stay strong, warriors!
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