8 Glasses a Day? The Real Deal on Water

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always heard doctors, parents, teachers, and friends stress the importance of staying hydrated. My doctor would always say staying hydrated will keep my immune system up to par, and that drinking enough water is especially necessary when fighting off the flu or a cold. My mom always said that water gives you good skin and helps you keep extra weight off. My teachers constantly reminded me to drink enough water before a test because your brain can’t function properly if it doesn’t have enough water. And, as college students, the importance of drinking enough water before and after drinking is always encouraged. Anytime I’ve complained of a hangover headache, my friends constantly push Smart Water bottles toward me.  

We all know that water is important—it’s no secret that about 70 percent of our bodies are made up of H2O. But is eight glasses a day really the right amount? And can water seriously improve my skin, get me better when I’m sick, make me smart, and even prevent the dreaded morning-after headache? We investigated to give you the real deal on water.

So what does it actually do?

Since so much of the body is made up of water, the liquid is responsible for a lot in the body. Water brings nutrients and oxygen into the cells, plays a part in metabolism, regulates our temperature, protects and moisturizes our lungs and joints, and detoxifies our bodies. Getting enough water is vital for your body to function properly. “Water is a nutrient, actually, even though there is no ‘nutrition’ in a glass of water, per se,” says Leanne Ely, a nutritionist and author of Saving Dinner, a New York Times Best Selling series. This nutrient has so many benefits, especially for the collegiette™.  

The Benefits of Drinking Enough Water…

It reduces a hangover

Think back to the last time you had a serious hangover. Chances are you woke up that morning incredibly parched and ended up chugging glass after glass of water. Since alcohol dehydrates your body, the best cure for it is replenishing that water you lost. “People are dehydrated post-hangover because the body uses so much water in an attempt to process the alcohol, sugar, and toxins,” says Wendy Bailey, a digestive health expert at Probiotics.org. The water you drink the morning after also helps your body get rid of the alcohol toxins in your body. “Hangovers are mostly an overload of toxins in the body,” she adds. Drinking enough water clears out your system and replenishes what you lost during the night out.

“After drinking all night, I try to drink at least a bottle of water before bed, and even then, I still typically wake up a few times during the night to chug some more,” says Amy, a senior at the University of Maryland. “In the morning, I usually drink a lot of water too, and I know that once my pee looks clear, I’ve probably drank enough water to compensate for the alcohol I drank the night before.”

It helps you lose weight

While water molecules aren’t exactly an army that defeats and carries fat out of your body, drinking water can definitely help keep your weight in check. According to a study by Dr. Brenda Davy, associate professor of human nutrition, foods and exercise at Virginia Tech, people who drank water before their meals consumed an average of 75 calories fewer during that meal. By consistently drinking water before a meal and eating fewer calories, you could lose up to 14.5 pounds in a year! 
Sometimes, your body confuses thirst for hunger, so you’ll eat when you’re actually thirsty. When you drink water before a meal, you let your body get hydrated, and could potentially realize that you’re not as hungry as you originally thought. Staying hydrated also ups your metabolism, especially if you’re drinking water cold, according to WebMD, because your body burns extra calories trying to warm up the water.

“I never used to drink enough water – usually only three glasses a day – but as part of my spring break diet, I’m trying to drink more water because I heard that it makes you not as hungry,” says Jennifer, a sophomore at Syracuse University. “I’ve only been doing it for like three weeks, but I’ve already noticed that I feel fuller after I drink water, so I normally don’t eat as much as I normally would. And I feel like my body is much more regulated than it used to be.” 

So if you’re on a mission to drop some pounds or even maintain your weight, make sure you’re getting enough of that H20!