Primarily, it’s key function is digestive: to eliminate byproducts of the body’s metabolism (substances produced internally which need to be excreted as they are toxic in high levels); as well as promoting healthy cellular function; maintaining adequate blood volume to transport oxygen around the body; and lubricating and cushioning our joints. So, we can see why it is important to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day to remain hydrated. But did you know that the timing of when you drink your water could be equally as important for optimal health? Although it is common practice in our culture to drink with meals, this can actually compromise our ability to break down food, and may therefore limit nutrient uptake. Why? Beacause the substances which break down the food get watered down, making them less potent, thus becoming less effective. Instead, to get the most out water, consider drinking a glass of water, or two, at the following times:
Upon rising in the morning
Once you’re up and out of bed, have 1-2 glasses of room temperature water 20 minutes prior to breakfast. Starting your day this way is a great way to support healthy digestion, and to flush out toxins (from our external environment as well as those which occur naturally inside us) which may build-up over night.
Half an hour prior to meals
There are many benefits to enjoying a glass of water half an hour prior to meals. The first is that it can help you determine whether you’re hungry or thirsty. Whenever you feel like having a snack, drink a glass of water instead; if you’re still hungry 20 minutes later, then enjoy a snack. The second benefit is that it encourages our digestive enzymes to function, which are required for food to properly be digested (which can in turn prevent over-eating).
Prior and post exercise
Drinking water before heading to the gym or partaking in exercise is essential in preventing dehydration; and drinking water after exercise is necessary as it replaces any fluids lost via sweat.
At the onset of a headache
Dehydration can cause headaches because when dehydrated our blood volume can drop, which therefore reduces oxygen to the brain. So before taking a painkiller, try drinking some water. *Please monitor the symptoms of your headaches, as this is only one potential cause.
Drinking water before bed helps to support our natural bodily processes whilst we sleep. The timing of this one does depend on whether or not you wake up often to go to the toilet – if so, try drinking only 1 glass of water 1 hour prior to bed.