THE PROS:It’s no secret that staying hydrated is important for our survival. The time of day and the way people stay hydrated will vary. Some people prefer drinking a coffee in the morning, or a soda at lunch, but one thing is certain: nothing beats a refreshing glass of plain, cold water.
You can drink water at any time during the day and it will be beneficial for you, but consuming a large glass as soon as you wake up in the morning will provide you with unique rewards.
According to Clemson University, about 75% of our body weight is made up of water. Depending on where you are or where you live, water is inexpensive or even free. It is low in sodium and is caffeine-free, making it the perfect source for meeting your hydration needs. Below you will find the top reasons why you should be having a glass of water on an empty stomach immediately after you wake up.
Convenience: So most people drink water with their meals, which has its positives, but also its negatives as well. According to Don Colbert, M.D., and author of ‘Eat This and Live’, drinking water during a meal can dilute digestive juices and even upset your stomach. He adds that drinking it in the morning immediately after you wake up is the ideal time.
Your stomach is completely empty, so a glass of water won’t hinder your digestion, and if you have a bottle or glass by your bed, all you need to do is reach for it.
Reduce Stomach Acidity:
If you are one of the many people who experience heartburn, it’s because you have high levels of acid in your stomach, according to The Family Medicine Handbook, which is brought to you by the Northen Ontario School of Medicine. During the night when you are sleeping, your stomach is the primary source of hydrochloric acid in your body. It produces it all night long. Usually, food will dilute the acid, but because your stomach is empty in the morning, heartburn is more likely to occur in the morning hours. But if you have water immediately after you wake up, it can reduce the level of acidity in your stomach.
Helps Relieve Bowel Movements:
According to Medical Daily, drinking a warm glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning on an empty stomach can help relieve your bowel movements and also help with constipation. Usually, when we are having trouble relieving our bowel movements, it’s because there is a lack of water in our bodies. In the morning when there is little to no water in our system, consuming water will help to quickly break down any food that has not been digested yet.
Other Health Benefits of Water:
According to WebMD, one of the health benefits of drinking water is to help maintain the balance of bodily fluids. Because over half of our body consists of water, it’s essential to keep these bodily fluids balanced because they help with digestion, circulation, absorption, transport of nutrients and the creation of saliva. WebMD also adds that when the body is low on fluids, the brain will trigger the body’s thirst mechanism.
It’s important not to ignore this sign because your body will not function properly without sufficient fluids.
Help Control Calories: According to Penn State researcher Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., author of The Volumetrics Weight Control Plan, if you’re looking to lose weight or try and control the number of calories you consume, water is a great source to help with that. Rolls add that when you consume water with a meal, the meal tends to feel larger than it may actually be. This is because the food is digested more slowly, so you feel fuller.
Helps Keep the Skin Looking Fresh: According to Atlanta dermatologist, Kenneth Ellner, everyone’s skin contains a lot of water, which acts as a protective barrier to prevent fluid loss. He adds that dehydration can make the skin look more dry and wrinkly, which can be prevented or improved with proper hydration.
Prevent Hangovers: If you know that your night is going to include a lot of alcohol consumption, it might be a good idea to mix in some water, especially when the night is coming to an end. This can help you prevent a hangover. Healthline explains that alcohol is a diuretic, which means that you lose more water than you consume. This is why you experience dry mouth, headaches, and thirst when you wake up the following morning; - aka a hangover.
Energize Muscles: According to WebMD, cells that do not maintain the proper balance of fluids and electrolytes will shrivel up, which can cause severe muscle fatigue. To prevent that, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that people drink around 17 ounces of water two hours before exercising. They also recommend that people begin to drink fluids early and often during their workout. It will help replace the fluids that you are sweating out.
Science-Backed Side Effects Of Drinking Too Much Water
While drinking a lot of water through the day doesn't hugely affect a healthy person, having more than 1 litre of water per hour can strain the kidneys and the heart. If you're sweating, or retaining water in your body due to a medical condition, overhydration can lower the sodium and potassium levels dangerously. This can cause muscle cramps and swell up brain cells fatally and even lead to death.
The most common side effect is, of course, excessive urination, but there are other dangerous side effects. While healthy people may not show these side effects immediately, endurance athletes, people with kidney and heart problems, people on drugs like ecstasy, and infants with immature kidneys will have a lower threshold. Here’s a look at the side effects of drinking too much water.
Swells Up Your Cells
Your body has sodium and potassium ions that act as electrolytes in the body and maintain fluid balance between your cells and your blood. When there is excess water in the blood and a higher amount of salts and ions within the cells, water rushes into the cells, swelling them up. This is especially dangerous for neurons or nerve cells in the brain, where space is restricted by the skull. The result can be headaches, seizures, brain injury, coma, and even death.
Lowers Sodium Levels Abnormally (Hyponatremia)
Drinking too much water can also upset your body’s careful balance of sodium. This critical mineral should hover between 135 and 145 mEq/L. But when it drops below 135 mEq/L, a condition called hyponatremia develops. This too results in water from the blood stream flowing into the cells, making them swell.
Hyponametria is more likely in athletes who lose a lot of sodium through sweat. Drinking water in this condition only dilutes the sodium density further. Hyponatremia has been seen to even cause death in athletes.2
You’ll start to notice mild symptoms as sodium levels dip below 120 mmol/liter. Typically, symptoms like confusion or muscle cramps will be more visible under 110 mmol/liter. But when levels drop to 90 to 105 mmol/liter, your symptoms will probably become more severe. At first, you might feel drowsy, but it may result in a coma. Now, if you’ve had a lot of water in a very short time, the progression from mild to severe may happen pretty fast.3
Lowers Potassium Levels Abnormally (Hypokalemia)
Overhydration can also lower potassium levels in the body. Loss of potassium may cause hypokalemia, the symptoms of which are vomiting, low blood pressure, paralysis, nausea, and diarrhea.
Causes Muscle Cramps
As mentioned before, consuming too much water will lead to a drop in your body’s electrolyte levels. The resulting fluid imbalance also affects your muscular function and could lead to muscle spasms and cramping. If you’re involved in high-endurance activities, it’s important to not only drink more water but also to replenish your electrolytes with sports drinks.
Overwhelms The Kidneys
As you know, kidneys help filter toxins from blood. The first stage of filtration happens in a cluster of capillaries at the end of each nephron (the basic functional unit of kidneys). The toxins are then flushed out with urine.
Overhydration can affect the glomeruli because your kidneys need to work overtime to filter the extra water from your blood. So when you drink liters of water within an hour, your kidneys get overwhelmed. Drinking up to 800 to 1000 ml of water in an hour should be fine if you’re in otherwise normal health.
Overhydration is particularly dangerous when you have kidney problems. Researchers suggest that it can actually cause chronic kidney disease progression. It may also spark an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Strains The Heart
Your body has an effective water absorption mechanism. Almost 80% of the fluids you drink is absorbed by the small intestine through a process called osmosis. Water then enters the blood stream, thereby increasing the overall volume of your blood. Drinking too much water can put undue strain on your heart due to the increase in blood volume and also lead to seizures in some cases.
Kidney function and heart health are also closely related. Patients with congestive heart failures or other heart issues that also affect the kidneys tend to retain more water in the body, compounding the problem. In their case, drinking too much water can stretch the heart muscle fibers and result in heart failure.6
Makes You Feel Tired
Excretion of fluids is mainly the function of your kidneys. When you drink more water than is needed by your body, it’s your kidneys that are strained the most. They need to work hard to remove excess water, which can lead to a stress reaction from your hormones. This could make you feel tired or fatigued. Moreover, the dilution of electrolytes could trigger exhaustion. So, How Much Water Should You Drink?
But how much you need to drink really depends on your age, gender, body weight, activity levels, metabolism, and medication as well as environmental conditions.8 9 People in temperate climates and with little physical activity may not need the 8 glasses of water daily. The National Health Services, UK, recommends limiting intake to 6 to 8 glasses of water, totaling about 1.2 liters a day,10 especially when you drink other fluids and water-filled foods.
The general rule to follow is to watch out for your body’s thirst signals. In a healthy person, the color of the urine is a good indicator as is the number of times you pee in a day. On hot and humid days and on days that you do strenuous exercise, drink 1.5 to 2.5 cups more, preferably with some electrolytes to balance the salts. But make sure you drink the water in small quantities through the day and not at one go.