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7 Reasons to Drinking Plenty of Water

Health + Wellness
7 Reasons to Drinking Plenty of Water

Our bodies are around 60 percent water, give or take.

It is commonly recommended to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule).

Although there is little science behind this specific rule, staying hydrated is important.

Mild dehydration (fluid loss of 1-3 percent) can impair energy levels and mood, and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Here are seven evidence-based health benefits of drinking plenty of water.

1. Water Helps to Maximize Physical Performance

If we do not stay hydrated, physical performance can suffer.

This is particularly important during intense exercise or high heat.

Dehydration can have a noticeable effect if you lose as little as 2 percent of your body’s water content. However, it is not uncommon for athletes to lose up to 6-10 percent of their water weight via sweat (1, 2).

This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, increased fatigue and make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally (3).

Optimal hydration has been shown to prevent this from happening, and may even reduce the oxidative stress that occurs during high intensity exercise. This is not surprising when you consider that muscle is about 80 percent water (4, 5).

So, if you exercise intensely and tend to sweat, then staying hydrated can help you perform at your absolute best.

Bottom Line: Losing as little as 2 percent of your body’s water content can significantly impair physical performance.

2. Hydration Has a Major Effect on Energy Levels and Brain Function

Your brain is strongly influenced by hydration status.

Studies show that even mild dehydration (1-3 percent of body weight) can impair many aspects of brain function.

In a study of young women, fluid loss of 1.36 percent after exercise impaired both mood and concentration, and increased the frequency of headaches (6).

Another similar study, this time in young men, showed that fluid loss of 1.59 percent was detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue (7).

A 1-3% fluid loss equals about 1.5-4.5 lbs (0.5-2 kg) of body weight loss for a 150 lbs (68 kg) person. This can easily occur through normal daily activities, let alone during exercise or high heat.

Many other studies, ranging from children to the elderly, have shown that mild dehydration can impair mood, memory and brain performance (8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13).

Bottom Line: Mild dehydration (fluid loss of 1-3 percent) can impair energy levels and mood, and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance.

3. Drinking Water May Help to Prevent and Treat Headaches

Dehydration can trigger headaches and migraines in some individuals (14, 15).

Several studies have shown that water can relieve headaches in those who are dehydrated (16).

However, this appears to depend on the type of headache.

One study of 18 people found that water had no effect on the frequency of headaches, but did reduce the intensity and duration somewhat (17).

Bottom Line: Drinking water can sometimes help relieve headache symptoms, especially in people who are dehydrated.

4. Drinking More Water May Help Relieve Constipation

Constipation is a common problem, characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stool.

Increasing fluid intake is often recommended as part of the treatment protocol, and there is some evidence to back this up.

Low water consumption appears to be a risk factor for constipation in both young and elderly individuals (18, 19).

Carbonated water in particular shows promising results for constipation relief, although the reason is not entirely understood (20, 21)

Bottom Line: Drinking plenty of water can help prevent and relieve constipation, especially in people who generally do not drink enough water.

5. Drinking Water May Help Treat Kidney Stones

Urinary stones are painful clumps of mineral crystal that form in the urinary system.

The most common form is kidney stones, which form in the kidneys.

There is limited evidence that water intake can help prevent recurrence in people who have previously gotten kidney stones (22, 23).

It is thought that a higher fluid intake increases the volume of urine passing through the kidneys, which dilutes the concentration of minerals, so they are less likely to crystallize and form clumps.

Water may also help prevent the initial formation of stones, but studies are required to confirm this.

Bottom Line: Increased water intake appears to decrease the risk of kidney stone formation. More research is needed in this area.

6. Water Helps Prevent Hangovers

A hangover refers to the unpleasant symptoms experienced after drinking alcohol.

Alcohol is a diuretic, so it makes you lose more water than you take in. This can lead to dehydration (24, 25).

Although dehydration is not the main cause of hangovers, it can cause symptoms like thirst, fatigue, headache and dry mouth.

A good way to reduce hangovers is to drink a glass of water between drinks, and to have at least one big glass of water before going to bed.

Bottom Line: Hangovers are partly caused by dehydration, and drinking water can help reduce some of the main symptoms of hangovers.

7. Drinking More Water Can Help With Weight Loss

Drinking plenty of water can help you lose weight.

This is due to the fact that water can increase satiety and boost your metabolic rate.

In two studies, drinking a half liter (17 ounces) of water was shown to increase metabolism by 24-30% for up to 1.5 hours (26, 27).

This means that drinking 2 liters of water every day can increase your total energy expenditure by up to 96 calories per day.

The timing is important too, and drinking water a half hour before meals is the most effective. It can make you feel more full, so that you eat fewer calories (28, 29).

In one study, dieters who drank a half liter of water before meals lost 44 percent more weight, over a period of 12 weeks (30).

It is actually best to drink water cold, because then the body will use additional energy (calories) to heat the water to body temperature.

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In early October, Britain's Prince William teamed up with conservationist David Attenborough to launch the Earthshot Prize, a new award for environmentalist innovation. The Earthshot brands itself the "most prestigious global environment prize in history."

The world-famous wildlife broadcaster and his royal sidekick appear to have played an active role in the prize's inception, and media coverage has focused largely on them as the faces of the campaign.

But the pair are only the frontmen of a much larger movement which has been in development for several years. In addition to a panel of experts who will decide on the winners, the prize's formation took advice from the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and the Jack Ma Foundation.

With more and more global attention on the climate crisis, celebrity endorsement of environmental causes has become more common. But why do environmental causes recruit famous faces for their campaigns? And what difference can it make?

'Count Me In'

"We need celebrities to reach those people who we cannot reach ourselves," says Sarah Marchildon from the United Nations Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany.

Marchildon is a proponent of the use of celebrities to raise awareness of environmental causes. In addition to promoting a selection of climate ambassadors who represent the UN on sustainability issues, Marchildon's team has produced videos with well-known narrators from the entertainment world: among them, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," Marchildon explains.

"Sometimes they reach out to us themselves, as David Attenborough did recently. And then they can promote the videos on their own social channels which reach more people than we do — for example, if they have 20 million followers and we have 750,000."

Environmental groups focused on their own domestic markets are also taking this approach. One Germany-based organization that uses celebrities in campaigns is the German Zero NGO. Set up in 2019, it advocates for a climate-neutral Germany by 2035.

German Zero produced a video in March 2020 introducing the campaign with "66 celebrities" that supported the campaign, among them Deutschland 83 actor Jonas Nay and former professional footballer Andre Schürrle. They solicit support as well as financial contributions from viewers.

"Count me in," they say, pointing toward the camera. "You too?"

"We are incredibly grateful for the VIPs in our videos," says German Zero spokeswoman Eva-Maria McCormack.

Assessing Success Is Complex

But quantifying the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement of campaigns is not a straightforward process.

"In order to measure effectiveness, first of all you need to define what is meant by success," says Alegria Olmedo, a researcher at the Zoology Department at the University of Oxford.

Olmedo is the author of a study looking at a range of campaigns concerning pangolin consumption, fronted by local and Western celebrities, in Vietnam and China. But she says her biggest stumbling block was knowing how to measure a campaign's success.

"You need a clear theory of change," explains Olmedo. "Have the celebrities actually helped in achieving the campaign's goals? And how do you quantify these goals? Maybe it is increased donations or higher engagement with a cause."

A popular campaign in China in recent years saw famous chefs Zhao Danian and Shu Yi pledge to abstain from cooking endangered wildlife. While the pledge achieved widespread recognition, both Olmedo and Marchildon say it's difficult to know whether it made any difference to people's actions.

"In life we see a thousand messages every day, and it is very hard to pinpoint whether one campaign has actually made a difference in people's behavior," she explains.

Awareness Is Not Enough

Many campaigns that feature celebrities focus on raising awareness rather than on concrete action — which, for researcher Olmedo, raises a further problem in identifying effectiveness.

"Reach should never be a success outcome," she says. "Many campaigns say they reached a certain number of people on social media. But there has been a lot of research that shows that simply giving people information does not mean they are actually going to remember it or act upon it."

But anecdotal evidence from campaigns may suggest reach can make an active difference.

"Our VIP video is by far the most watched on our social media channels," McCormack from German Zero says. "People respond to it very directly. A lot of volunteers of all ages heard about us through that video."

However, some marketing studies have shown that celebrity endorsement of a cause or product can distract from the issue itself, as people only remember the person, not the content of what they were saying.

Choosing the Right Celebrity

Celebrity choice is also very important. Campaigns that use famous faces are often aiming to appeal to members of the public who do not necessarily follow green issues.

For certain campaigns with clear target audiences, choosing a climate scientist or well-known environmentalist rather than a celebrity could be more appealing — Attenborough is a classic example. For others, images and videos involving cute animals may be more likely to get a message heard than attaching a famous face.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," says Marchildon from the UN. "You need figures with credibility."

McCormack cites the example of Katharine Hayhoe, an environmental scientist who is also an evangelical Christian. In the southern United States, Hayhoe has become a celebrity in her own right, appealing to an audience that might not normally be interested in the messages of climate scientists.

But as soon as you get a celebrity involved, campaigns also put themselves at risk of the whims of that celebrity. Prince William and younger members of the royal family have come under fire in recent years for alleged hypocrisy for their backing of environmental campaigns while simultaneously using private jets to fly around the world.

But Does It Really Work?

While environmental campaigns hope that endorsement from well-known figures can boost a campaign, there is little research to back this up.

"The biggest finding [from my study] was that we were unable to produce any evidence that shows that celebrity endorsement of environmental causes makes any difference," says Olmedo.

This will come as a blow to many campaigns that have invested time and effort into relationships with celebrity ambassadors. But for many, the personal message that many celebrities offer in videos like that produced by German Zero and campaigns like the Earthshot Prize are what counts.

The research may not prove this conclusively — but if the public believes a person they respect deeply personally cares about an important issue, they are perhaps more likely to care too.

"I personally believe in the power this can have," says Marchildon. "And if having a celebrity involved can get a single 16-year-old future leader thinking about environmentalist issues — that is enough."

Reposted with permission from DW.

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