Exactly how much water people need to drink each day to stay hydrated is a subject of debate. You’ve likely heard that you need at least six to eight glasses a day, but the real figure depends on other factors. How much activity you get, the climate you live in and how much water you get from sources like fruits and vegetables all matters.
The good news is that as long as you make water your main beverage, drink when you’re thirsty and consume it with meals, you don’t need to get caught up tallying glasses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But keeping properly hydrated isn’t the only reason to throw back some H2O. The beverage does other amazing things for your body when you consume enough of it. Check out the ways this magical elixir works for you other than its ability to quench your thirst:
1. It keeps skin healthy on a cellular level.
Water likely won’t clear up your acne or eczema, but on a cellular level it could make a difference.
The skin is made up of three layers: The outermost is the epidermis, then the dermis and finally subcutaneous tissue. If the top layer, the epidermis, is not hydrated enough, your skin can lose elasticity and feel rough, according to the Mayo Clinic.
And some experts say that water’s presence in the body can assist with the production of collagen, the protein responsible for keeping skin plump and firm.
2. Water keeps the joints healthy.
A small 2012 study published in the journal Medical Gas Research found that drinking hydrogen-rich water helped decrease pain in people who live with rheumatoid arthritis. For people without the condition, regular water intake can also help with staying healthy and comfortable. The beverage may cushion your joints and keep them lubricated, according to the CDC.
3. Water helps with weight loss goals.
There’s just no way around this one: Water helps with weight loss more than any other beverage. Study after study shows that water helps people consume fewer calories in a day and helps people maintain a lower weight.
One 2015 study found that participants who “preloaded” meals with a pint of water lost almost 10 more pounds on average during the experiment than participants who did not drink before eating. This could be because your body’s hunger cues may often be misinterpreted as thirst cues.
4. Water keeps you regular.
If you just can’t seem to go, consider upping your water intake before rushing for a laxative.
Daily water consumption is important to keep bowel movements regular, according to the CDC. It’s just one of a few core components that support good digestion, including a well-rounded diet with a good amount of fiber and regular exercise.
5. It helps with headaches.
Here’s an added benefit of staying hydrated beyond feeling parched: A common reason for a headache is actually dehydration (which could explain why your head might pound after a long night out).
Researchers say that not drinking enough water can cause blood volume to drop. This results in less oxygen and blood flow to the brain and dilated blood vessels, the New York Times reported. The nerves in your brain respond by producing pain signals, almost like a cry for help that you need to hydrate.
6. Water may help protect against cancer.
There are causes for the disease that cannot be controlled, such as family history, gender and age. However, a healthy lifestyle can aid in the prevention of certain cancers.
Some research suggests that drinking several cups of water daily can reduce the risk of bladder cancer in men. A 2011 study found that men who drank more than 10 1/2 cups of water day had a 24 percent decreased risk of bladder cancer over a 22-year period. Researchers think that drinking a lot of water helps with flushing out potential cancer-causing agents before they have the opportunity to develop.
7. It also keeps you alert and focused.
This might make you want to keep a glass of water on your desk: A 2012 study published in British Psychological Society found that undergrad students who brought water with them into an exam scored better than their peers who did not. The researchers believe that sipping on water helps people stay hydrated and focused on the task at hand.
8. Water helps your heart do its job.
The heart is constantly working to pump blood throughout your vessels and muscles. Keeping your body properly hydrated with water makes it easier for the heart to do this, according to the American Heart Association.
9. H2O keeps you happy and energized.
Water may help improve mood, according to a small 2015 study. Researchers studied 120 women and found that greater water consumption was associated with reported lower levels of tension and depression as well as feeling happier.
Even a mild case of dehydration, which counts as losing just 1.5 percent of water in the body, can cause irritability and a lower energy level, according to research.
So drink up! (And keep it interesting. Here are a few fruit-infused water ideas that will change the game.)