Water, the original health drink, is underrated and overshadowed by commercial substitutes. Consider these health uses of plain water.
Drown the cold. You’ve heard the expression “Starve a fever, feed a cold!” This bit of medical folklore is only half true. It’s best to “drown” the fever and the cold with water. Fever makes you perspire and lose water, which not only dehydrates your body, but dehydrates your brain, causing you to think and feel even worse from dehydration. During a cold, the mucus membranes of your nose and breathing passages lose water and dry out. Drinking water keeps these mucus membranes moist, which allows the inflamed lining of your nose and breathing passages to heal more quickly. Dehydration also thickens the mucus, making it difficult for the tiny hair filaments in your nose (called cilia) to oscillate back and forth and move the mucus and the germs along. As a result, the mucus plugs collect in the nose, sinuses, and airways and serve as a culture-medium for bacteria. Keeping the mucus and the membranes moist and water-logged keeps mucus plugs from forming and even getting stuck in the lower airways where they are difficult to cough up. In fact, among pediatricians, water has often been dubbed the “best and most readily-available cough syrup.”
Drink to go. Not drinking enough fluids is also a subtle contributor to problems with constipation, especially in the very young and very old. The colon is your body’s fluid regulator. If you’re not drinking enough, your colon robs water from the waste material and gives it to the body, causing the stools to be water-deprived, or hard. People eating high-fiber diets actually increase their risk of constipation if they don’t drink extra water along with fiber-rich foods, since fiber needs water to do its intestinal sweeping job. More fluids in your diet put more fluids in your bowels, lessening constipation.
Drink to think. Water even contributes to healthier brains. The brain is a water-loving organ. If it doesn’t get enough, it doesn’t work right. Dehydration can impair concentration, which is most apparent following sweaty exercise or doing brain work in hot weather. So, drink to help you think.