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Everyday Ways To Improve Your Health Through Water

the unexpected health benefits of visiting a waterfall

Here at SpaFlo we are firm advocates of promoting ‘health through water’ or to use the latin term, ‘Sanus per Aquam’. This latin term (with its initials) is often thought to be the origin of the word ‘Spa’. A spa treatment, plunge pool, wild swim or a hot bath in the tub are not just little acts of pampering dedicated to pure pleasure: in fact water contributes to body care with very important effects. So here are some of our top tips for everyday ways to improve your health through water this year. 

Water in our bodies 

Drink more water – hydration for concentration 

Stay hydrated! Studies have shown that dehydration can have a noticeable effect even if you lose as little as 2% of your body’s water content; mild dehydration can impair mood, memory and brain function. Researchers also found that fluid loss of 1.4% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration. Dehydration also increases the frequency of headaches. A study of 102 men found that drinking an additional 1.5 litres of water per day resulted in significant improvements on a scoring system for migraine. So it may be a well-known fact but continue to drink plenty of water; aim for around 8 glasses per day. 

Which drinks are the most hydrating?

If you struggle to drink enough plain water, there’s plenty you can do to make it more interesting. Water can be infused with fruit, herbs or even vegetables; things like berries, cucumber, basil, mint, watermelon, apples or kiwi or mint are all great to add, as is fresh lemon. There are health benefits to drinking coconut water; it is known to be very hydrating thanks to the high content of electrolytes and potassium.

Even milk and juice can count towards your hydration goals; a study that measured a ‘beverage hydration index (fluid retention in the body) found that four drinks had higher hydration indexes than water: oral rehydration solutions, fat-free milk, whole milk and orange juice. 

Dr. Ronald J. Maughan of Loughborough University told the New York Times, ‘Normally when you drink, it signals the kidneys to get rid of the extra water by producing more urine’, whereas ‘when beverages contain nutrients and electrolytes like sodium and potassium, as milk does, the stomach empties more slowly with a less dramatic effect on the kidneys’.  

Eat more water! 

watermelon contains more than 90% water - eat more water for hydration and improved health

Of all foods, vegetables provide the most water, often being over 90% water by weight. Vegetables high in water include lettuce, celery, radish, cucumber, courgette, watercress, tomatoes, green peppers and asparagus. Lettuce, celery and cucumber contain around 95% water, as do Pak choi, radishes and watercress. Perhaps unsurprisingly, any fruits are also high in water: apricots, blueberries, oranges, peaches, pineapples, plums and raspberries contain over 80% water. And melons such as cantaloupe and watermelon have some of the highest water content, at more than 90%; an average 5kg Watermelon contains a staggering 4.5 litres of water! 

So by adding more vegetables and fruit to your diet, you are contributing to improved health by adding vitamins and fibre as well as vital hydration from water. 

Our bodies in water 

Bathe yourself healthier - the health benefits of bathing in hot water

Researchers have estimated that up to 80% of disease is stress related. Bathing in hot water contributes to body care with very important effects; it helps you to relax, reducing stress and tension. It also helps to facilitate sleep. A bath in warm water can also help with muscle pain, rheumatism and arthritis. Being in water reduces body weight by approximately 90%, relieving pressure on joints and muscles and making it a safe and gentle environment for warm water exercise. Hot water exerts a slight pressure on the body, which prompts the heart to work harder, increasing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure at the same time: a series of effects that work like real heart training. 

Hot water is also beneficial for skin health –so whether you prefer a hot steamy bubble bath or to sit and relax in a bubbling hot tub, there are health benefits on every level.

Choose a cold dip - the benefits of cold water therapy

Cold water therapy has been around for thousands of years but now we really recognise the health benefits. When you take a cold water plunge, the cold water instantly numbs nerves that surround your joints and muscles, causing the release of hormones and endorphins. This acts as an analgesic, which relieves inflammation and alleviates muscle strain and joint pain. Studies have also shown that cold plunges lead to an increase in glutathione levels (glutathione is a powerful antioxidant in your body, which keeps all other antioxidants performing at peak levels). 

Cold water also causes the body to release body chemicals known as cytokines, which help to boost the body’s ability to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses. Cold-water therapy can also stabilise blood pressure over a period of weeks. It also triggers the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions such as heartbeat and breathing, and activates sensory nerves that lead to the brain, which in turn helps to improve mood and quality of life. 

Go for a really wild swim

wild swimming in the sea - what are the health benefits of a cold sea swim?

For similar reasons to cold water bathing, wild swimming also has health benefits. Swimming in cold water increases blood circulation; it will help exfoliate your skin and flush impurities from it, thus helping your complexion (some women say it helps with cellulite). Evidence also demonstrates that your body adapts to the cold with repeated exposure and this may improve your circulation. Swimming is great exercise no matter where you do it but you will get some extra benefits doing it in the more ‘wild’ environment.  

Your body has to work twice as hard to keep you warm and burn more calories in the process. While diving into freezing water might make you feel like you are closer to having a heart attack than having fun it turns out that this feeling of shock can actually boost your immune system. Research has shown that when people regularly swim in cold water their white blood cell count increases significantly and the immune system is invigorated. 

Winter swimmers talk a lot about the ‘high’ they get from cold water. The cause? Endorphins. So, to get high on your own supply, all you need to do is jump into a cold river or lake! Last but definitely not least, research has found that when people have been subjected to cold water on a frequent basis there is an increased production of testosterone and oestrogen in men and women respectively. 

Our bodies near water 

Visit a beautiful body of water 

Coastal environments have been shown to improve our health, body and mind. The benefits of ‘blue space’ (as opposed to green space) meaning the sea, coast, rivers, lakes and canals are now being recognised - being by water is good for body and mind. 

Proximity to water – especially the sea – is associated with many positive measures of physical and mental wellbeing, from higher levels of vitamin D to better social relations. ‘Many of the processes are exactly the same as with green space – with some added benefits,’ says Dr Mathew White, a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and an environmental psychologist with BlueHealth, a programme researching the health and wellbeing benefits of blue space across 18 (mostly European) countries. 

According to their research, marine and coastal areas were found to be the happiest locations. Blue space does seem to have an edge over other natural environments as water has a psychologically restorative effect. Spending time in and around watery environments has consistently been shown to lead to significantly higher benefits for positive mood and reducing stress, than green space. 

The term ‘seeing red’ with its associated feelings of anger, anxiety and stress refers to a fleeting moment when the red mist descends but over a period of time, this becomes the ‘red mind’; a toxic stress that interferes with rational thought. But now researchers are talking about the ‘blue mind’.  The blue mind refers to the sense of peace and calm we feel when near water, which enables us to escape from the pressures of modern life. The colour blue conveys a sense of calm, according to colour psychologists; we are naturally attracted to aquatic hues, so it makes sense to surround ourselves with blue to reduce stress. 

Take a walk near water 

With the arrival of a new year, you’ll be ready to blow away the cobwebs by heading for the seaside and spending a few days exploring long, leisurely coastal walks if you can. 

Britain's best coastal walks offer a bracing sea breeze; the rhythmic sound of waves crashing against sand and rocks provides repetition of sound, in a soft pattern that allows our brains to enter into a meditative state, as an antidote to overstimulation. 

Whether you're trundling up golden sands or hiking upwards in search of cliff top views, feeling more connected to wild life or taking your time to immerse yourself in the fascinating historical stories along many of the UK’s seaside routes, there's a coastal trail for everyone. Just being near water has many therapeutic benefits for mind and body from sea air and ozone. Salty sea air is charged with negative ions that calm the brain and help to alleviate feelings of depression. 

Embrace the health benefits of waterfall magic 

 the unexpected health benefits of visiting a waterfall

If you can’t get to the coast, being close to a waterfall helps! Scientists have highlighted the importance of waterfalls for their health benefits; the sense of calm we feel when close to waterfalls is due to the release of the negative ions, as the water cascades down the rocks.  

They also help in reduction of the free radicals, which cause the damage to cells, DNA and proteins in the body through the release of the negative ions. The same negative ions help to purify the blood and improve cell metabolism in the body, which in turn helps to enhance the immune system. 

Water is fundamentally vital to life on earth and our own lives.  There are so many health benefits of adding water into your daily life, whether that be by immersing yourself in it, being near it or consuming it.  Think about ways you can add water into your routine and into your life to improve your mental health, concentration and physical wellbeing through water.