Water is the foundation and truly the lifeblood of our health.
It is essential to sustain life, and assists in everything from our digestion to brain function. But, there are a lot of surprising ways water can help us maintain our health that we’ve maybe never considered.
Here are 10 things to know about how water keeps us healthy and how you can keep our drinking water safe:
Say goodbye to 8 cups a day
So how much water do we really need to drink? Gone are the days of the “8 cups of water per day” rule.
In fact, the Dietitians of Canada recommend approximately 12 cups (3 L) for men over 19 and ~9 cups (2.2 L) daily for women over 19 years of age. However, this is the total recommended fluid intake which includes other beverages as well as high-water-content fruits and vegetables.
While this is a good guideline to start with, it’s also important to note that factors such as activity level and humid climates will increase our need for water.
As we lose more sweat with activity and in warmer temperatures, it’s important to replace the fluid in our body more frequently.
Drink up before you drive (water that is!)
It turns out that a hydrated driver is a better driver.
A 2015 study from Loughborough University studied the effects of dehydration on drivers. The conclusions were that dehydration significantly affected a driver’s cognitive and motor skills.
According to the study, when drivers were mildly dehydrated, they were more likely to make errors such as lane drifting and late braking.
Since our brain is primarily made of water, ensuring adequate hydration will help to keep it functioning at its best and as indicated by this particular study – help you stay safe on the road!
Some like it hot
Can the temperature of your drinking water really make a difference in your health? Some believe that it can.
Drinking your water tolerably hot can aid in digestion, improve circulation and even relieve nasal congestion.
Try drinking your water at a higher temperature, plus adding a little fresh lemon juice to it will give it an extra boost for your digestive health while keeping you hydrated.
Others like it cold
Just as the temperature of your drinking water is important, so is the temperature of your shower.
While it may not seem appealing to start your day with an ice-cold shower, the benefits may cause for pause!
Taking a cold shower touts significant health benefits including improved circulation, quicker post-workout recovery (think like an Olympian!), better sleep and a stronger immune system.
One 2015 study found that participants who took a cold shower had 29% less sick days than those who didn’t.
If you’re not ready to commit to a full cold shower, you can still reap some of the rewards by turning the temperature down just before you get out.
Are you bottled in or tapped out?
Is “clean” bottled water really all it’s cracked up to be? The bottled water industry really wants you to think so.
Bottled water manufacturers lead us to believe their water is coming from a pure mountain spring, when in fact, over 25% of the sources are using a municipal supplier.
Translation: it’s not a whole lot different than your tap water.
The other major concern with bottled water is the plastic packaging which often contains harmful chemicals such as phthalates; an endocrine disruptor that has documented negative effects on our health and hormones.
And while most bottles are recyclable, it is estimated that only 14% of bottles are recycled.
The bottom line on bottled water: Bottled water isn’t any safer than tap water. Save your dollars and use a reusable, preferably glass vessel to fill up and drink from, and to keep the environment – and your health safe.
Want to know more about the safety of bottled water? Read more in this CBC News Report.
Go alkaline – your bones will love you for it
Some swear that alkaline water is the key to health, while others say it’s not worth the hype. The verdict, however, is entirely dependent on your body’s unique needs.
At a basic level (pun intended), alkaline water has a much lower acidity than tap water and also contains a higher amount of essential minerals such as calcium, silica, magnesium, and potassium.
Drinking alkaline water is reported to have a positive effect for those with osteoporosis, as well as on pancreatic beta cells due to its higher mineral content and antioxidant effect.
You can go too neutral
While there can be significant benefits of alkaline drinking water for some, there can also be negative side effects for others.
Drinking water with a higher pH level changes the stomach’s natural acidity. This change of stomach acidity can lead to a condition called alkalosis. Side effects this condition can include nausea, vomiting, muscle twitching, and extreme confusion.
Check with your Naturopath to decide if alkaline water would be a helpful addition to your health routine.
Float your worries away
You don’t always have to drink your water to receive health benefits from it! Floatation therapy is a growing trend citing benefits from improved creativity to stress reduction.
A typical floatation therapy session involves entering a sensory deprivation chamber filled with water and an abundance of medical grade Epsom salts. Participants put in earplugs and then simply lie back and relax.
After a typical 60-90 minute session, participants report a significant reduction of stress.
A Swedish research study concluded the same, citing significant beneficial effects for those with sleep difficulties, difficulties in emotional regulation, and depression.
Our water sources are on the decline
It’s easy to take our drinking water for granted when we can literally just go to our tap and get fresh water on demand.
However, our water sources are becoming increasingly more limited and contaminated on a global level. Without change, we run the risk of relying on polluted drinking water that can make us sick.
We can do our part to keep our water safe by reducing or eliminating widely used chemicals such as fertilizer and toxic cleaning products in our homes.
Regular car maintenance can also eliminate oil and antifreeze leaks that run off into our water system.
Small changes to our lifestyle can help us maintain the safe drinking water that does so much to keep us healthy.
Stop the salt insanity!
Every winter, folks in colder climates salt their roads, sidewalks, and driveways to prevent slips and falls.
While this may be good for keeping us upright as we navigate the icy conditions, this salt doesn’t just disappear into thin air. It ends up in our lakes and streams AND our drinking water.
The consequence? High amounts of salt in our water can harm or even kill aquatic animals and plants which affects overall water quality. In addition to this, drinking water with a higher salt content can be dangerous for those with hypertension.
To reduce the harm to our water supply, use salt more sparingly if not at all. In cooler temperatures (-10C or lower) try switching to sand instead.
Hopefully, we’ve shed some light on all the ways water touches our life, our environment, and its health benefits.