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Is Drinking a Lot of Water Good For You?

Is Drinking a Lot of Water Good For You?

There is a common belief that drinking an excessive amount of water is somehow good for the human body.

Many claim that increasing our intake of water can lead to all sorts of health benefits including increased fat burning, less appetite, more energy, etc. But, what does the actual science say about that?

Is there any real benefit to drinking more water than the plain old thirst commands? Or are we just wasting our effort filling and refilling those water bottles all the time? (not to mention having to pee every hour of the day)

First of All, How Much is Too Much?

Before I continue, I should clarify what “a lot of water” means. “A lot of water” implies drinking many glasses of water per day, despite not being thirsty. People who do this often carry water bottles with them everywhere they go, and go to the bathroom to pee all the time.

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There is such a thing as “too much water”, which is water intake to the extent that it becomes dangerous. If you drink an insane amount, like in a water drinking contest (very stupid), you may go into a condition known as water intoxication, which can be deadly. The body’s cells need a constant balance of various electrolytes (salts). When you pee and sweat, some electrolytes tend to get out along with the water. Athletes that drink a lot of water to replace intense sweating, without replenishing the body’s salts, may dilute their body fluids. This can mess up the electrolyte balance and cause a condition known as hyponatremia, which can also be deadly.

Therefore, it is important to get in some electrolytes (salts) along with your water if you exercise intensely and sweat a lot. Some sports drinks include the necessary electrolytes to replace what is lost through sweat. But given that you are not participating in a water drinking contest (you’re smarter than that, anyway), and that you make sure to replace massive sweating with both water and electrolytes, then drinking a lot of water is completely safe.

Water and Cognitive Function

Drinking a lot of water isn’t going to make you smarter, but there is a tiny bit of evidence to show that a mild dehydration can slightly impair mental function.

25 healthy women were dehydrated by means of either exercise or diuretics. On average, they lost a little over 1% of their body mass. The women who were dehydrated had an increased perception of task difficulty, less focus, more symptoms of headache, and a degraded mood compared to controls. Thus, it does seem like a good idea to make sure you do not get dehydrated, and take note that 1% of body mass is a very mild dehydration.

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If you do feel a little blue at times, then perhaps you’re only a few glasses of water away from feeling your best again.

Water Intake and Bladder Cancer

There was one large-scale prospective study performed on 47.909 health professionals. This study found water intake to be inversely associated with cancer of the urinary bladder, with those who drank 6 or more (1440ml+) cups per day half as likely to get bladder cancer than those drinking less than 1 cup per day (-240ml).

In fact, the authors noted that each additional cup (240ml) lowered the risk by 7%. However, other studies found no protective effect against bladder cancer by drinking more water.

Water and Colorectal Cancer

Several studies show a significant protective effect of water intake against colorectal cancer, which is both common and deadly. In fact it is the third most common cause of cancer death.

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These studies show a risk reduction as high as 30-60%, but in some cases they are not statistically significant so they should be taken with a grain of salt.

Fluid Intake and Urinary Health

There is some evidence that drinking plenty of water might reduce chances of recurrence in patients who have been previously diagnosed and treated with kidney stones.

Water as a fat burning beverage

An observational study of 5.783 Chinese adults found that water intake was inversely associated with energy density of the diet, total energy intake and overweight status. Another study in 24 lean women found out that those who ate liquid food (soup) ate a lot less than those who had the same amount of food in solid form. However, eating the solid food with a glass of water on the side had no effect.

I’d like to point out, that despite water with a meal slightly increasing satiety, there is no indication that this would lead to weight loss in the long term, as there are so many other factors at play. There is, however, a small chance that if you stay well hydrated throughout the day, you won’t feel as hungry and won’t eat as much.

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If you really want to dig into the whole science behind water intake and health, then I recommend you take a look at this paper (12 – PDF).

Conclusion

In fact, if you don’t drink water for a few days, you will die. If you’re thirsty, water is the way to go. It is clean, calorie free, contains no additives and it’s really the only thing adult humans and pre-humans have been drinking for the last millions of years.

Elderly people may need to consciously make sure to drink water throughout the day as their brain may start to underestimate their required intake. That being said, I do not see any reason why it would be a good idea for young, healthy people to drink a lot more water than what thirst commands. The mechanism in our brain that controls water balance is incredibly efficient.

A common recommendation is eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule). According to the studies above, 5 glasses might be enough. Make sure you don’t get dehydrated, drink 5 glasses of water throughout the day (especially with meals), but definitely increase your intake of water preferably alkaline water before, during, and after workouts to keep ultra-hydrated and to reduce the accumulation of acidity in your exercising muscles for a better workout intensity and recovery time. This less acidic water is available both in bottles and thru specialized machines.

All in all, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to carry a water bottle around all day and drink so much that you have to pee all the time except, of course, when exercising. If you’ve got all that covered, then you have nothing to worry about.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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