The Real Truth About Hydration & Health

by Caitlin Schott / Jun 03, 2020
The Real Truth About Hydration & Health

Let’s face it — we all know hydration is a necessity. Our need to hydrate is almost innate. But at times it feels more like a burden than a benefit. That is, until the right fluids slowly quiet that pounding headache, give you a boost to finish that killer circuit, or cure the dry mouth that’s been driving you nuts at sun up. The juice is worth the squeeze when we’re in immediate need. But if you’re treating hydration as a quick-fix, you’re missing the point. 

Dehydration is worse than you think. And hydration is modern-day magic. It's a pillar of health at the intersection of mind and body. The sneaky link between the two, quietly filling both buckets, whether you realize it or not. The health benefits of hydration border surreal. Tested and proven, it truly is the secret weapon to wellness. So let’s dive into what makes hydration healthy...

The Physical Benefits of Proper Hydration

From head to toe, fluids maintain the function of every (yes, every) system in your body. That means your heart, your brain, and your muscles all depend on fluids. As do other organs like your bladder, stomach, and kidneys. 

After all, fluids regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, flush waste, and transport nutrients to cells. Which are all essential processes in everyday life that we often take for granted. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the physical benefits of hydration: 

Prevent (And Alleviate) Sickness. Is there anything worse than getting sick? Sure, you’re rewarded with bed-ridden days catching up on Netflix. But missing work means a mess to come back to. Personal obligations are put on hold. And — heaven forbid — illness strikes at an inopportune time, and your vacation is ruined. Good news: hydration can lend a hand. Staying hydrated helps prevent infection and promote your immune system, while also relieving symptoms like nasal congestion and diarrhea when you do catch a bug. 

Avoid Disease. The impact of chronic dehydration is downright scary. Prolonged periods of dehydration can be linked to health conditions including kidney stones, hypertension, and urinary tract infections. Of course, these are generally preceded by symptoms such as dizziness, dry mouth, and fatigue, indicating the need to hydrate — and all of which are no fun.

Age Gracefully. What’s worse than getting sick? Aging, you say? We get it — you don’t want to wear your age on your sleeve. Appearance and confidence go hand-in-hand. What if we told you there’s an easy way to help you look and feel younger? Ah, now you’re glowing. Hydration helps protect body tissue, aid in joint lubrication, and keep skin cells healthy. That can translate to radiant skin and less wrinkling. 

Sleep Peacefully. Dream of better sleep? Hydration can help. While hydrating won’t put you to bed, it can limit unwanted interruptions. Mild dehydration can dry your nasal passages, promoting snoring that wakes you (and your partner). And another symptom of mild dehydration, leg cramps, makes it difficult to comfortably catch z’s. Some even believe the relationship goes both ways — it’s possible lack of sleep can cause dehydration. 

Peak Performance and Energy. Hydration is linked to performance, fueling you at the gym, in the pool, on the court, you name it. We’ll discuss the mental edge later, but if you don’t replace the fluids you lose via sweat, you can’t regulate your body temperature or maintain performance. Proper hydration even contributes to energy levels while also preventing muscle cramps, so you can give your best effort, regardless of the activity. 

Breath to Bowel Bonuses. Hydration makes an impact from head to toe and breath to bowel. Hydrating, specifically with water, keeps the mouth clean to help prevent an assortment of horrors (dry mouth, tooth decay, and gum disease), while banishing bad breath. As for bowel, your digestive system needs to stay hydrated to work properly. Proper hydration assists with everything from breaking down foods to sidestepping constipation.  

Now that we’ve connected the dots between hydration and physical health, let’s talk about the often-overlooked mental benefits of hydration...

The Mental (& Emotional) Benefits of Proper Hydration

Hydration impacts body and mind. As awareness around mental health has exponentially increased, the under-the-radar mental benefits of hydrating have become clearer. From cognitive function to concentration, here’s how hydration supports your brain:

Mood Booster. When the chemicals in your brain are out of whack, you can get down. And dehydration can be the catalyst to chemical imbalance. Even mild dehydration has been proven to alter mood. Hydrating can help get you back in balance and snap out of the sour mood

Dodge Stress, Depression, and Anxiety. Dehydration saps your brain’s energy and can impede serotonin production. A lack of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in your brain that regulates stress, can unleash stress and amplify its impact. This can swing open the door to depression and anxiety. Water can be the cure that slams it shut — and turns the lock.

Cognitive Function. A well-hydrated brain ensures the adequate exchange of nutrients and toxins in your noggin’, thereby supporting concentration, focus, and mental alertness. Even mild dehydration can begin to inhibit cognitive function. And if it sticks around, you can experience problems related to thinking, reasoning, and memory.

Now that you’re familiar with the plethora of health benefits related to hydration, let’s quickly recap the signs and symptoms of dehydration... 

Signs & Symptoms of Dehydration

Whether immediate or tertiary, all of the unwanted signs and symptoms below can have a link to dehydration:

  • Headaches.
  • Heart disease.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Constipation.
  • Urinary tract infection.
  • Bad breath.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Tooth decay.
  • Gum disease.
  • Dry skin.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Restlessness.
  • Confusion.
  • Lack of focus.
  • Irritation.
  • Sluggishness. 
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Bad mood.
  • Memory loss.

Luckily, there’s several ways to hydrate. Here’s what you can do to steer clear of these concerns and alleviate symptoms the next time you feel them creeping up... 

Best Ways to Hydrate (Beyond Drinking Water)

Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluids than you take in. But that doesn’t mean fluids are the only way to hydrate — nor does it mean all fluids do the trick.  

Fruit and veggies (if you’ll tolerate them) are rich in water and support hydration. If you prefer the liquid route, milk, juice, broth, soups, and sports drinks all have hydrating properties. And the latest craze, oral rehydration solutions, can speed up your efforts when you’re in a bind.

All of the following are rich in water: 

    • Fruits: Watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, and cantaloupe. 
    • Vegetables: Cucumber, celery, lettuce, and tomatoes. 
    • Broth: Bone broths and broth-based soups.
    • Milk: All forms are water based: whole, skim, almond, etc.
  • Juice & Smoothies: Fruits and veggies strike again.
  • Sport Drinks & Oral Rehydration Solutions: These powders and liquids offer speedy hydration but are also rich in sugar and salt. 
  • As for fluids missing from this list, be wary of tea, coffee, and sodas. While your morning cup of joe and sweet-tooth for soda don’t mean doom and gloom, the caffeine isn’t doing you any favors. It is a diuretic that promotes the increased production of urine. That’s not to say these beverages dehydrate you — all 3 contain water. But you’ll excrete fluids much faster than you would if you stuck to, say, water.

    Good News & Bad News

    Pick your poison. Should you guzzle down milk to hydrate, you’ll also be guzzling down fat and calories, while setting your body up for an unpleasant reaction (if dairy doesn’t sit well with you). Juices and smoothies, though delicious, are loaded with sugar. The same goes for sports drinks and oral rehydration solutions which generally tack on significant sodium, too. And any food you reach for contains calories.

    If you want to skip the calories and other concerns, water is the best option. But there can be drawbacks there too...

    The Surprising Truth About Water & Hydration

    Imagine we offered you a magic potion… one that could instantly amplify your health and help prevent all the signs and symptoms listed above. Would you be skeptical? Scared? All in? The truth is no magic potion, elite elixir, or custom concoction is needed. Water, alone, can do it all. 

    If you were to re-read this blog, you could replace the words ‘fluids’ and ‘hydration’ with the word “water” at every instance. The claims would remain true. Go ahead. Give it a try. The same can’t be said for ‘smoothies’, ‘soup’, or ‘milk’, without introducing a long list of caveats (and new concerns). 

    But we suggest you take it a step further. Instead of ‘water,’ we say ‘clean water.’ After all, not all water is equal. And we have 365+ ways to prove it... 

    …lurking in tap water are hundreds of contaminants like pesticides and herbicides. Some have been linked to cancer and bone disease, while others are known to contribute to liver, kidney, and reproductive problems. Even worse, the vast majority can’t be seen or smelled, giving no instant indication that they’re there (yikes). That’s why our water filters reduce and remove up to 365+ of these equally common and covert culprits from tap water. 

    So while you may be hydrating, reaching for the tap can be risky. Your best bet? Upgrade your water by investing in a premium filter to ensure you’re protecting your health and fueling up on the cleanest water possible. With that, let’s raise a glass (of filtered water) to your happiness, your health, and your hydration. Cheers!