Susette has a lifelong interest and practice with good physical and mental health, including the environment that sustains us all.
Did you know that it's possible to dry yourself out if you don't drink enough water? Without enough water, all kinds of things go haywire inside the body. In fact, many of the things wrong with your body right now could be partly or wholly because there's not enough water in it.
For those who have a hard time drinking water, this article will help you figure out what to do. Here, you will find tips for making sure you're drinking enough water, and you will learn why and how water makes you feel better.
What Happens When You Drink Water
Knowing the incredible role that water plays in the body can motivate you to keep drinking until you do it because you like it. Here is a summary of what water does in our bodies:
- It moves nutrients in and toxins out of the body, cleaning each cell inside and out.
- It keeps cells and organs cushioned from damage.
- It gives us shape, fluffing up the tissues and keeping our skin plump and moist.
- It helps our lungs function, so air can move in and out without drying them up.
- It moves signals from neuron to neuron in our brains, thereby allowing us to think.
- It carries our body's warriors (macrophages) and oxygen carriers (red blood cells) where they need to go to prevent disease and keep us healthy.
- Water can help us lose weight (see below).
Water plays an integral function in the health of our bodies. The chart below shows the many things that can go wrong when we don't drink enough water (dehydration).
Symptoms of Dehydration
dry skin and hair
acne and blackheads
high & low blood pressure
How Much Water Should I Drink in a Day?
All of the disorders above are caused, at least in part, by lack of water. Hence, drinking more water regularly will help relieve or completely cure these symptoms.
We need to drink at least as much as we release by peeing, sweating, breathing, digesting food, and crying. Pundits say that the amount is eight large glasses per day, but your health will be the true indication. To help you drink enough for your body every day, here are nine tips.
Water Tip 1—Create New Daily Drinking Habits
Start with realizing that you are changing habits. You're letting go of an old, restrictive one (hardly ever drinking) and creating a new, healthy one (drinking daily). New habits take just 21 days to form if you are consistent. Just 21 days.
Rather than thinking of drinking water every day as a "lifetime discipline"—which feels like working forever—think of it as a less-than-a-month discipline for a lifetime of benefit. Once it becomes a habit (21 days), you will think about it less than you think about getting dressed.
Water Tip 2—Focus on the Health You Want
Per the Law of Attraction (by which all of life operates), what you focus upon you attract more of, including those things that will help you succeed. So, keep your focus on the health you will get from drinking more water. Write sticky notes to put on your computer or some object you see first thing in the day. Consider the following mantras: "Water brings me health," "I am getting healthier," "Water will help me get thin," "When I drink water I heal."
Remember the chart above? Which items particularly impressed you? "OMG, I didn't know THAT could be caused by not drinking water!" Write an affirmation about each of those—whichever ones impacted you most.
Water Tip 3—Make a Custom Water Bottle
Purchase a special BPA-free water bottle that you can keep by your desk, carry through town or to meetings, or place by your bedside at night. Add swizzles or swooshes on the outside with glue and irridescent sparkles, or customize it with natural objects, paint, or photographs to add fun to your drinking habit change.
Using a water bottle makes it easy to measure your intake: fill it up once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once at night. That, plus a small glass of water at meals, should be plenty for a fairly sedentary person.
To reduce the risk of water/salt imbalance, add a pinch of sea salt (not table salt) to your water bottle. It makes the water healthier and taste a little sweeter, as well. Sea salt contains sodium and a number of trace minerals and metals from the ocean that our bodies need for optimal health.
Water Tip 4—Drink Water Instead of Eating
Our bodies give off signals when they're hungry and different ones when thirsty. Most people get them confused and will eat instead of drinking. Here's how that scenario plays out:
Your body: "Thirsty."
You: "I'm so hungry." You go get something to snack on.
Later . . .
Your body: "Used water to digest the snack. More thirsty now."
You: "Hungry again (growwwl)." You get another snack and bring it back to your computer.
Soon, your body is craving food and you go to lunch. This is one of the mental habits that trigger people to eat too much.
The best solution is to drink water when you're hungry. Wait 20 minutes, then see if you're still hungry. This has the double benefit of preparing your stomach for food if your hunger is real.
Water Tip 5—Filter Drinking Water
One reason many people don't drink more is because they worry about what's in the water. Just the idea of drinking chlorine or fluoride from the tap or phthalates from bottled water is enough for me. An easy and effective way to relieve this worry at home is to set up a water filter that cleans water at the tap. If you can afford it, an even better solution is to get a whole house purifier, which protects your skin and lungs as well.
Water Tip 6—Drink Water Before Bedtime
Just before you go to bed is a great time to drink water. It becomes part of your nightly routine, and you will remember it out of habit. Most people don't eat just before bed, so drinking water at that time won't interfere with digestion. It will also give your stomach a satisfied feeling, so you don't wake up in the middle of the night wanting food (although you may wake up wanting to pee).
Water Tip 7—Urine Out, Water In
When you pee, you're releasing much-needed water from your body. Yet it's essential that you do so, since urine carries out toxins that have been filtered through the kidneys; that water needs to be replaced.
If every time you go to the toilet, you follow it by drinking half a glass of water, this itself could be enough to provide you with the daily minimum on a fairly cool day. Note the color of your urine. If it's nearly transparent, you're good. If it's dark yellow, it's not good. Time to drink water . . . a lot of it.
The dark color indicates highly concentrated, acidic toxins that would have been diluted more had there been enough water in your body. It also means your kidneys might be storing more toxins while it waits for water, which could cause problems with the kidney. Kidney stones are one result of a chronic lack of water. Bladder cancer is another.
Water Tip 8—Prepare Your Stomach for Food
At mealtime, the first step in food preparation should be to drink a small glass of water, preferably with a lemon slice or a touch of apple cider vinegar with honey. Both of these additives alert your stomach that food is on its way and also aid in digestion. Make sure you drink a small glass, not a large one. Too much will dilute the power of the digestive juices in your stomach.
Water Tip 9—Is It Better to Drink Cold Water or Hot?
Warm water is best. If you add a pinch of sea salt the taste will be a little sweeter, as well. Cold water can stiffen your throat, and hot water can burn your throat.
In restaurants, I always refuse ice in water. Not only does it make my throat feel bad, it also makes my body cold after awhile. With hot tea, I test the heat on my lips before drinking. A burnt tongue takes a few days to heal, and a burnt throat is worse.
Specific Benefits of Drinking Water
Here are more details about what water does in your body. This will help you understand why the lack of water creates those dysfunctions listed in the chart above:
- Clear thinking—Water pumps up the brain to its proper size and function. Our brains are made up of about 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) and 100 trillion gaps between them (synapses). Each synapse is filled with "brain fluid" made up mostly of water, which carries messages between cells in the form of electrical impulses.
Without water the brain shrinks, neurons come closer together and their electrical impulses lose their aim. Pain receptors in the skull go off with a warning that the brain is pulling away from the skull, causing a dehydration headache. Although I haven't yet seen it diagnosed as such, it makes sense that some of our brain confusion diseases, like Alzheimer's and dementia, could be symptoms of too little water in the brain.
- Weight loss—Recent research shows that drinking plenty of water while dieting results in a 30% greater efficiency in losing weight. As you know, weight gain has multiple causes. If yours is caused by drinking too much alcohol and/or soft drinks, or eating instead of drinking, you will gradually lose weight as you replace the stored fat with water, which takes up much less room. Water also facilitates weight loss by helping to clean and carry out fat cells that are dismantled, as the body uses the energy stored there.
- Increased muscular coordination—As with the brain, water in the body is essential in the conduction of electrical impulses (messages) that tell our muscles what to do. This includes muscles in the digestive system, lungs, and heart . . . all muscles of all types in the body. Anywhere there are nerves and neurons, there are messages being sent and water involved in the sending. With a dehydrated body, muscles and systems relying on them stop working properly. Therefore, with enough water in the body, we can expect better coordination.
- Clear, unwrinkled skin—Many people can save a lot of money on dermatology treatments, medications, and cleansing creams by drinking enough water. The skin is one of four toxin eliminators (along with colon, lungs, and kidneys). Sweat normally rinses the toxins and excess oils out, but if we're not drinking enough water to sweat, they will fester.
Pimples form when the skin gets infected around irritants it's holding back—usually dead cells cemented together by old skin oil (sebum). Blackheads are the same thing, but with open access to air, so they don't get infected. Eczema (itching) results from toxins that aren't being rinsed off or sweated out, or an imbalance of water and salt in the cells. Water in the form of sweat helps move all of that out.
Wrinkles form when tissues under the skin shrink, due to lack of water or poor circulation, in the same way that plums become prunes (prunes are dried plums). In addition to regular light massage, plenty of stretching, and plenty of sleep, we need to drink enough water to keep cells fluffed up. This helps reduce problems with aging, as verified in a benefits study by the University of Wisconsin health center.
- Fewer diseases and faster healing—Blood, which is mostly water, carries oxygen to cells all over the body to use for energy. It also carries white blood cells, or macrophages, which fight disease and break down malfunctioning cells. And it carries toxins out of the body through our urine. In all of these ways and more, water is a disease-fighting, healing agent.
Drinks That Supplement Water
The following drinks will cause you trouble if you habitually drink them instead of water:
- Coffee—The caffeine in coffee induces your kidneys to release more water than they normally do. Drinking coffee thereby gives you a net loss of water.
- Soft drinks—These are filled with chemicals, which take extra water to wash out. In particular, the chemical that creates carbonation is carbon dioxide. The body already works to get rid of carbon dioxide via our lungs, so why put more in?
- Sugary drinks—Watch your sugar content carefully. Processed sugar not only rots your teeth, but it also makes you hyper, giving the kick followed by a quick depression that diabetics experience. If sugar is first in the list of ingredients, then change drinks.
These drinks are much better supplements to water:
- Coconut water is one of the healthiest, nutritious supplements to drinking regular water that I know of.
- Fruit and veggie juices made by companies like Naked and Odwalla add nutrition too.
- Herbal teas are good.
- Lemon water is good, as are fresh-squeezed juices like lemonade, orange juice, and grapefruit juice.
- Chicken and other meat broths are good, especially when homemade.
Now, it's time to put these tips into practice. You know the benefits of drinking water, you have ideas to stimulate you into it, now it's time to get healthy. You will feel so much better once you turn this one change into a habit. Furthermore, developing this one healthy habit will help you change other unhealthy habits as well. Good luck!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on April 03, 2015:
Your comments triggered me to get a glass just now. ;) Thanks for reading.
Jacobb9205 on April 02, 2015:
I drink water all the time!
maggs224 from Sunny Spain on December 28, 2014:
An excellent, interesting and informative hub, I especially think your tip to drink after emptying the bladder is a good idea, it makes such sense to replace what your body has already used. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise :D
I will be voting up and hitting the relevant buttons on my way out.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on September 21, 2014:
When I first moved to the place I live now I started adding a touch of sea salt, like I always do, and the water tasted strange. Then I realized that my landlady (who lives in the front house) was adding water softener salt to the whole indoor water system.
I looked at the bag just now to see what the salt was, specifically. It says, "evaporated sodium chloride," whatever that means. My question, "With or without natural trace elements?" I'm guessing not.
I just hope the sea salt I eat with the rest of my food, combined with plenty of greens for minerals, counteracts anything missing with the evaporated sodium chloride. Or maybe I should just start drinking bottled water and adding sea salt to that (lol).
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on September 21, 2014:
I drink quite a bit of water, almost nothing else (except my morning tea) and actually prefer water over anything else. I haven't tried adding sea salt and might just have to do that. Thanks for your important tips and information.
Kyson Parks from San Diego, CA on February 01, 2013:
Drinking water is so important! Thanks for these helpful tips!
Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on January 31, 2013:
I wake up every morning at 5:15am and the first thing I do is drink water. I've also started this habit of drinking water right before bedtime, and I've noticed feeling a lot better in the mornings. Helps with regular and easier bowel movement too.
Great hub with lots of great tips. Voted up and useful.
Carla J Swick from NW PA on January 31, 2013:
I drink water ilke it's going out of style. It all started with a medical problem and now I just hydrate constantly. It''s a great habit to get into.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on January 31, 2013:
Crissy, I add a touch of sea salt to improve the taste. If it's good quality, you get a teeny bit of sweet taste that's not sugary and it's healthy for your body, too.
Crissylite on January 31, 2013:
Thank you for such a great article about water! Voted Up & Useful...I'm one of those ones who doesn't always drink as much water as I should. I don't really like the taste. But I do like to keep a water bottle with me so that I can take sips throughout the day and refill the bottle when I run out.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on January 31, 2013:
Oh nice. I was going to do a brain hub, but maybe I won't now ;-) I'll read yours instead. Thanks for the comments, folks.
Mary Hyatt from Florida on January 31, 2013:
Great article. I hope people take your advice seriously. It is hard to get into the habit of drinking water, and your tips are really good. It is true that if you drink a full glass of water before a meal, you will not eat as much.
I just did some research for my "Brain Hub" and I found out how important it is to keep the brain hydrated.
I like the way you included a table, too.
Voted this UP, etc. and will share.
Patrick Kamau from Nairobi, Kenya on November 07, 2012:
Nice article and well written. It is sad that most of us are not able to keep our bodies well hydrated by drinking the right aount of water. I am one of the victims and I hope to use the tips you have given here. Thanks for sharing.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on October 04, 2012:
When you think about it, our bodies are made of fluid with just a little clay to hold the water and nutrients in place - ratio: 2 parts water to 1 part clay.
nylarej from Ph on September 20, 2012:
I know the huge value of water in our body and it is just frustrating that I sometimes forget to drink water.
Thanks for sharing these tips, I'd surely keep these in mind!
KellyMediaBest from Tampa, Florida on September 17, 2012:
Sometimes it is hard to make drinking water throughout the day an actual habit, but our body's really need to stay hydrated to work efficiently. I use the water bottle trick and always have it with me. This has made it almost a subconscious reaction to drink water throughout the day.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on September 15, 2012:
Oh my, Tammy, I could never drink that much coffee - I'd get too wired! Good for everyone who's already drinking a good amount of water. It's great to have you here to validate its benefits.
Linda Chechar from Arizona on September 15, 2012:
I drink a lot of water throughout the day, but I was not aware of some the the benefits you mentioned. Thanks so much for providing this useful information. Water is amazing!
Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on September 15, 2012:
I drink water most of the day. It took a few weeks like you said but it definitely has paid off. I feel better and I don't feel as dependent on food. Great advice!
Tammy from North Carolina on September 14, 2012:
This is so true and it is hard to drink so much water. These tips should help me drink more. I don't drink soda or tea, but I drink at least one pot of coffee a day. Great tips!
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on September 14, 2012:
As a kid in Hawaii, I remember that the skin and hair of Polynesian people is so shiny and smooth because they drink coconut water all the time - fresh from the coconut. Thankfully, coconuts are being sold in Whole Foods now, perforated so you can insert a straw. Soooo good!
Hmmm. Meant to write something about the skin. Thanks for the reminder, KJ, I'll do that now.
kjforce from Florida on September 13, 2012:
watergeek...well researched and written...being retired from the Medical field, may I suggest, add the squeeze of a fresh lemon to your water and always drink it cold. You can also add cucumber ,coconut in another add ( I pulp mine )..Drinking water also keeps the skin hydrated which in turn helps to slow down the " wrinkle" process..
Thank you for sharing and bring this issue to HP..you can live without food, but not water...voted up/interesting
Ruchira from United States on September 13, 2012:
Seriously, you tip 7 was wonderful.
I was aware of drinking water before meals but, to add vinegar etc was new to me. Great informative hub, watergeek :)
Leah Lefler from Western New York on September 13, 2012:
This is really great, watergeek. We have special thermos bottles for our boys, and we fill them with water so that we have a supply available no matter where we go. I never thought about drinking a small glass just before mealtime - that is a really good idea!