For years, I’ve said that drinking plenty of water was one of my best health habits. And it’s true: drinking adequate water has numerous health benefits, including:
- Increased energy. This is honestly the benefit that keeps me filling up my bottle regularly. I feel SO much more energized when I am hydrated!
- Decreased headaches. Most people who suffer from regular headaches see decreases in frequency and severity when they are adequately hydrated.
- Decreased cravings. So often, we mistake thirst for hunger. While I truly want you to eat if your body needs fuel, it’s worth a shot to see if you’re actually thirsty. Haven’t had enough water today? Drink a glass or two and see if the cravings pass.
- Better digestion. Simply put, being dehydrated can make you constipated and bloated, and no one wants that, right?
- Better detoxification. Your kidneys, liver, skin, and more do an amazing job at detoxifying your body constantly. But they can’t do their job effectively unless you are adequately hydrated. So, drink up to help your body get rid of the junk that we all build up!
- Healthier skin. More water leads to healthier, more hydrated skin that shows fewer signs of aging.
- Improved physical performance. Perceived difficulty of exercise is increased when dehydrated. Being adequately hydrated may also decrease oxidative stress and increase endurance.
- Better mood and brain health. While I don’t think water is a catch-all for this, there is research showing that adequate hydration leads to better mood, decreased anxiety, and better cognitive performance.
How much water should I drink?
I generally recommend calculating the number of ounces of water you need to drink in this way:
- Take your body weight in pounds
- Divide by 2
- Add 16 for every hour of exercise you do daily
For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and exercise one hour daily, you require (at least!) 116 ounces of water per day.
However, I personally feel best at about 200 ounces of water daily, which is far more than the above formula would imply. I found this by simply increasing gradually each week, until I did not feel additional benefits from incremental water. (Of note, I also personally consume quite a bit of salt, which I think is actually healthy for an active individual who sweats a lot and does not have underlying health issues that would preclude this. But that’s another post for another day!)
Won’t I have to pee all day?
Yes, yes you will. And that is a normal human function! I can’t tell you the number of clients that tell me they “don’t have time” to pee during the workday. Sorry, but we just have to get over it. As for that feeling of having to RUSH to the bathroom regularly? That will get better as you get used to drinking more.
Does the quality of the water matter?
Yes! So very much. And this is where I am choosing to upgrade my habits. If we all lived right next to a mountain spring, drinking fresh, pure water is the very best thing we can do for our overall health. But for most of us living in cities, we’re subjected to either buying expensive, unsustainable, plastic-laden bottled water, or drinking tap water. And unfortunately, most city tap water is laden with toxic chemicals, pollutants, metals, and so much more.
Let me first say that if filtered water is unavailable to you due to cost or any other factor – I still think drinking tap water is better than drinking no water at all. I’ve been drinking unfiltered tap water for 34 years and I’m still kicking, after all. Health is all about constantly assessing what we can do at the moment to upgrade, and this is MY current upgrade. But it is no reason to beat yourself up! Take it step by step.
That said, I checked out the city of Dallas’ water purity scores, and here’s what I found:
- Contaminants detected above health guidelines: 1, 2, 3-Trichloropropane, arsenic, atrazine, bromodichloromethane, bromoform, chloroform, chromium, dibromochloromethane, dichloroacetic acid, nitrate, radiological contaminants, total trihalomethanes, and trichloroacetic acid
- Other detected contaminants (within “acceptable” levels, but honestly, I want NONE of this in my body!): Acetone, aluminum, antimony, barium, bromochloroacetic acid, chlorate, chloromethane, chromium, cyanide, dibromoacetic acid, fluoride, haloacetic acid, manganese, molybdenum, monobromoacetic acid, monochloroacetic acid, selenium, simazine, strontium, vanadium
WOW. My body already has to do enough work managing the stress I put on it, the exercise I put it through, the chocolate I eat (hey, just being honest!), and more. Adding the detoxification of these contaminants is extra work that requires energy, and drinking pure water can help my body operate far more efficiently.
What is the best water filter?
Before I moved houses in March of this year, I used a reverse osmosis water filter that I liked. It had good ratings and tasted fine, but it was honestly a huge pain to refill and took about 15 minutes to cycle through, so if you wanted water right away and it wasn’t ready, you had to wait. When I moved, I never set up the filter again, and have been drinking tap water or using the refrigerator filter (which honestly doesn’t filter much out at all).
However, when The Berkey reached out to me and offered to send me a Berkey to try out, I was SO excited. I had heard of the Berkey before, did a bit more research, and was SO impressed by what I found. The Berkey water filter is one of the few that can actually be called a water purifier because it removes 99.999% of bacteria and viruses. Independent research shows that the Berkey water filter removes 99.9% of:
- Viruses (most water filters don’t)
- Bacteria (including E. coli)
- Heavy metals (like lead and mercury)
- Arsenic (in my Dallas water supply!)
- Prescription medications (including acetaminophen, BPA, and progesterone)
Many filters (including my old one) also remove minerals like magnesium and calcium that are actually healthy for us, and the Berkey water filter does NOT, which is great.
It took me about 15 minutes to set up and prime the filters (I did it wrong the first time and had to watch a YouTube video!), and I’ve had no problem refilling the tank and having water constantly available. I add a few large mixing bowls of water straight from my tap into the Berkey water filter a few times a week, and I always have water when I want it. The Royal Berkey water filter holds 3.25 gallons (416 ounces), which even for me, is plenty! And believe it or not, you can TASTE the purity. The water tastes great!
How about hydrogen water and alkaline water?
These are not the point of the post, but I get asked often, so here are my quick opinions:
- Hydrogen water: really interesting research coming out. I think there are potentially great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. I also think that the research is still burgeoning here, and that this should really be an incremental benefit. If you’re ALREADY checking all the boxes (sleep, meditation, great nutrition, exercise, removing toxins, etc.), go ahead and add in hydrogen tablets to your water, but until then, don’t worry about it. I’m personally not quite there yet.
- Alkaline water: a big waste of money, in my opinion. Just think about it: the pH of your stomach is 1.5-3.5 (VERY acidic). As soon as you drink alkaline water, it hits that acidic stomach and is likely neutralized. Your body is incredibly good at maintaining distinct pH ranges in all different parts of your body, and adjusting the pH of your water isn’t going to change this. YES, I believe that there is benefit in eating more alkaline foods (veggies!) and fewer acidic foods (sugar, dairy, grains, etc.), but save your money on alkaline water.
Now it’s your turn … What (if anything) do you use to filter your water? What is one health habit that you commit to upgrading?