WATER: WONDER ELIXER

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With Nancy Kim
Registered Dietician, NASM-CPT


Every system in your body depends on water. It regulates body temperatures, maintains blood volume, eliminates toxins and helps with bowel movement, carries oxygen to the cells, distributes nutrients throughout the body, boosts immune system, is essential for kidney function and provides a moist environment for body tissues and joints. While you can live without nutrients for few weeks, you’d only be able to live 2 or 3 days without water. During warmer weather or increased activity, your body’s need for water increases.

Besides the obvious health benefits of drinking water, here are some less obvious reasons for incorporating 8-10 glasses of this wonder elixir to your diet.

Improve skin tone & look younger

Drinking plenty of water is great for your skin. If you don’t drink enough you’ll suffer from dry skin, puffy eyes and dark circles under the eye.  Much of water is lost through the pores through evaporation, especially during the winter months when the air is dry and pulls moisture from the skin, leaving it  looking dry and dull.  Drinking plenty of water moisturizes the skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

If you don’t drink enough water, your body will try to retain it in order to conserve resources. This retention makes your skin puffy and can even lead to bloating.

Weight Loss

Drinking water before a meal may help suppress appetite.  Water fills you up and makes you feel full and eat less.  Consuming fewer calories on a daily basis can speed weight loss.  Next time you’re craving a snack, try drinking a glass of water first. Wait 15 minutes and then reassess your hunger cravings.  Drinking plenty of water also prevents fluid retention.    When you’re not drinking enough water, your body tries to retain water, causing weight gain.

Don’t depend on your thirst as a cue to drink more water, by that time your body is already dehydrated.  Drink water often throughout the day.  Signs of dehydration include: strong-smelling or dark colored urine, headache, irritability, dry mouth and throat, chapped and dry lips, fast pulse, inability to concentrate, weakness, dizziness and fatigue.

 

Hair management

Your hair is also made up of water: 5% water and 95% protein. Rinsing hair in cold water constricts the cuticle layer of your hair so it lies flatter, making strands look smoother and more reflective. Water helps hair look bouncy and stimulates hair growth.

 

Too much of a good thing can also be bad.

Healthy adult kidneys can process 15 liters of water a day.  Although the side effects of drinking too much water is rare, drinking too much at once can be harmful. Excessive amounts of water can lead to water intoxication or hyponatremia, dilution of sodium in the body that causes electrolyte imbalance. The symptoms of water intoxication are similar to dehydration: light-headedness, nausea, vomiting, headaches and feeling ill. It’s generally rare but can be seen in infants and inexperienced athletes.

 

Incorporate more water in your diet

  • Carry a water bottle wherever you go.  This helps avoid drinking sugary or caffeinated beverages that can be dehydrating.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables with higher water content, such as watermelon, grapefruit, coconut water, salad greens and cucumber.
  • During warmer months, carry a spray bottle filled with water and spritz your face periodically to keep skin cool and hydrated.
  • If you don’t like drinking plain water, make your own flavored water by adding slices of fruits (lemon, lime, berries, melons, etc.), cucumber, mint or ginger.

 

Photo credits:  Nancy Kim (model) / Jim Jurica (Photography)