Understanding the Endless Benefits of Water


Water can heal your body, moisturize skin, help control weight, and improve digestion. Best of all, it’s free. Count the ways water can help you.

Water helps your body heal itself. If you’re sick – or especially if you have surgery – drink¬ing water is an easy way to put yourself back on the road to recovery. After surgery, your body retains water to help it heal, so adding to your supply gives your body an extra boost just when it needs it most. Drinking water can also help you recover from bouts of nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Water moisturizes your skin and lips. Water is absolutely essential to healthy skin. Both water in the air and the water you drink give shape and nourishment to your cells. It makes your skin elastic and supple instead of dried up and shriveled like a prune. And don’t forget what it does for your lips. Water keeps them moist and kissably soft.

Water watches your weight. Your body needs this nutrient more than any other, and it happens to be calorie-free. Try a refreshing glass before eating. Water fills you up, making it easier to resist that mound of food on your plate. It also helps you eat more slowly – which is one of the ways that water fights indigestion and heartburn. What’s more, when you take your time, you end up eating less.

Water liquidates digestive troubles. If your digestive system is plagued with problems, make water your main priority. Water helps your digestive system run the way it’s supposed to. Whether it is constipation, heartburn, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, or just plain indigestion, lots of water will soothe your system and get things moving in the right direction.

Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink a glass of water. Your thirst, especially as you get older, may not be a reliable gauge of your body’s need. You could be two cups low before you feel it.

To make sure you get enough water to prevent trouble, count up how many glasses of liquid you drink each day. If your total is less than six glasses, you’re not drinking enough. Remember not to count alcohol or caffeinated beverages – like coffee, colas, or tea. These are diuretics, which cause you to lose water faster than usual. If you drink any of these, you need to drink extra water to replace what you lose. So, when you’re counting up glasses of liquids, you actually need to subtract one glass of water for every caffeinated drink you’ve had. Here’s a hint that may help you skip caffeine – and make your counting easier. Juices and herbal teas are good substitutes when you want something other than water.

Drink more when it’s hot. When the weather is hot and dry, or you get more exercise than usual, you will need more water. If your urine is clear or pale yellow, you know you’re getting enough.

Steer clear of these six potential troublemakers that can literally leave your intestines tied up in knots.

High-protein diets: These eating plans call for you to cut your carbohydrate intake. This means losing out on fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Some doctors and nutritionists think diverticulosis can be avoided by eating foods high in fiber, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And even if you already have the little pouches, you can avoid infection by eating lots of fiber to keep your digestive system squeaky clean.

Refined grains: When it comes to flavor, refined grains are the featherweights of the grain world. The refining process strips the fiber out of bread, cereal, and other grain prod¬ucts – and the hearty flavor goes out right along with it. Trade in your white bread for whole grains, like whole wheat and rye and brown rice instead of white. It may take a while to get used to the nutty taste and heavier texture of these foods, but after a while, white bread and white rice will taste bland by comparison.

Drinking lots of water should also make your stools softer and decrease the chances that you’ll develop diverticula. And if you already have the little pouches, extra water can help fiber flush out bits of food that could cause problems.

Red meat: Harmful bacteria form in your gut when you digest red meat. They weaken your colon walls and make you more prone to those diverticular pouches. As if that weren’t bad enough, the fat in red meat raises your risk of diverticulosis, too. For better results, beef up your diet with chicken and fish, and avoid red meats. For anyone who wants to avoid diverticular disease, red meats are just a bum steer.

Stimulant laxatives: They irritate your colon more than they help. Instead of stimulants like senna, try natural laxatives like prunes, prune juice, or psyllium.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): You risk severe complications if you have diverticulosis and use NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Seeded foods: Traditional wisdom says pass up foods like popcorn, strawberries, and tomatoes. The kernels and seeds may get stuck in the diverticula and cause diverticulitis. Yet many scientists say there’s no proof. So ask your doctor what’s safe for you.