a gallon of water a dayThere are significant health benefits to drinking water, especially if you’re also cutting down on sugary drinks.

About 70% of our body mass is made up of water, and doctors recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day for good health.

Here are some of the many benefits of drinking water, and ways to be sure you’re getting enough.

Balances body fluids

Since your body is 60% water, it’s no surprise that your daily intake of this fluid helps your bodily fluids to control absorption, circulation, digestion and maintenance of body temperature. When your body gets low on fluids, your brain triggers the thirst mechanism that’s your clue to drink water or other fluids.

Controls calorie intake

Drinking water can suppress your appetite, limiting your food intake. Plus, substituting plain water for other, more calorie-filled liquids can definitely aid your weight-loss plan.

Sodas can contain hundreds of empty calories and very little nutrition, so cutting back or eliminating them and drinking more water can result in faster weight loss. Drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help you feel full and eat less.

Another tip for quicker weight loss is to add water-rich foods to your diet. Consuming more fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, beans and broth-based soups will give you a feeling of fullness because they’re absorbed more slowly by the body than calorie-dense foods. Drinking water also helps your body burn stored fat by improving liver function.

Increases cognitive function

Your brain needs a steady supply of oxygen for optimal functioning, and drinking enough water helps your brain get all the oxygen it needs. Studies show that drinking eight to ten cups of water per day can result in a 30% increase in levels of cognitive performance. Drinking enough water also supports nerve function by keeping your electrolyte levels high. This is especially important for the nerves that transmit messages to and from your brain.

Energizes muscles

If there’s one time when you must drink enough water, it’s when you’re exercising, because muscle cells require an adequate supply of fluids for optimal performance. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking about 17 ounces of fluid two hours before exercising, then drinking more at intervals to replace the amount lost by sweating. Muscle cells that don’t get the proper balance of fluids and electrolytes will shrivel, resulting in muscle fatigue. Drinking enough water will help your muscles work longer and harder before getting tired, so you build muscle faster.

Lubricates joints

If you suffer from joint pain, it’s even more crucial that you get enough water. Joints need moisture to stay flexible and strong. Drinking more water can ensure that your movements are smooth and free of pain.

Improves skin

Skin must be properly hydrated to look its best, and dehydration can result in dry, cracked, wrinkled skin. In addition to drinking enough water to hydrate skin from the inside out, lock in moisture with a good moisturizer. Adequate water intake may also combat skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis.

If you don’t drink enough water, your body can start to retain fluids, leading to bloating and puffy skin. Avoid alcohol and drinks containing caffeine, because these can actually dry your skin by causing dehydration.

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