Americans are dehydrated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost half of adults drink less than four cups of water a day. Seven percent don’t drink any. Children and teens are even worse. Because of the profusion of soft drinks and sugary beverages, over half America’s children are dehydrated and, on an average day, about a quarter of them don’t drink any water at all. Of all the solutions proposed, there is one that many people overlook: water dispensers. Water dispensers are a great way to stay hydrated, not only because they provide better access to clean water, but because they provide better access to cold water. You may not know this, but temperature has a huge impact on how much water people drink. People love cold water. It tastes good and makes you feel more refreshed. The more you have of it, the more likely you are to drink it.
Why Do People Prefer Cold Water?
Cold water doesn’t hydrate us any better than warm water, so why do we like it so much? It has to do with how the cold receptors in your body operate. The cold receptors on our skin regulate body temperature. When a cold sensation is applied to our skin, our blood vessels contract, reducing blood flow to our skin, which keeps you from losing more of your body heat. Cold receptors in our mouths serve a much different function. They make us feel refreshed. When your body loses water, your blood gets thicker and the number of solvents per milliliter goes up. This is what causes you to get thirsty and start drinking water. However, since you can drink water faster than you can process it, your body also needs a second signal to let you know when you’ve had enough. This is where the cold receptors in our mouth come in. When they get cold, they create a pleasant, refreshing sensation that signals that it’s time to stop drinking. It’s a feedback loop that keeps you from getting overhydrated (symptoms of overhydration include nausea, headaches, and mental confusion), and it’s the reason why cold water is considered so refreshing (ice cream as well). Water dispensers take advantage of this. By providing instantaneous access to cool, tasty water, it encourages children and adults to stay hydrated.
How Do Water Dispensers Chill Your Water?
Water dispensers chill water using a compressor, the same as your refrigerator. It compresses a gas, commonly referred to as a refrigerant, until it condenses into liquid. The liquid is then through an expansion valve, which causes it to evaporate and absorb heat from the water tank. The heated refrigerant is then cycled through a series of heating coils that radiates the heat back out into the air before being compressed again and sent back through the expansion valve. It’s an extremely powerful cooling method. NewAir hot and cold water dispensers, for example, can lower water temperatures all the way down to 39°F.
What are the Health Benefits of Drinking Water?
The human body is made up of 60-70 percent water and it’s a vital component of practically every function your body performs, which is why drinking it is so good for you. It makes you feel better, look better, and work better. Here is just a few of its benefits.
- Improves Your Concentration. Water provides electrical energy for your brain functions. As you become dehydrated, your brain cells shrink and the synapses in your brain begin to shut down or operate more slowly. In fact, medical researchers have discovered that just losing just 1 percent of your body’s water results in a 5 percent decrease in cognitive function. A loss of more than two percent degrades short term memory, focus, and concentration.
- Improves Your Mood. In 2014, a group of French researchers asked a group of people to increase the amount of water they drank each day from 1.2 liters (slightly dehydrated) to 2.5 liters (fully hydrated). All of them reported an improvement in their mood. Then the researchers asked a second group of people who were drinking enough water day to cut back on how much water they drank. When they did, each of them reported feeling more confused and unhappy throughout the day. The reason was that the area of the brain that regulated mood became impaired as the brain became dehydrated, which makes it harder for people to stay positive when encountering setbacks and frustrations.
- Keeps Skin Looking Young & Healthy. Your skin is 64 percent water. When it dries out, it accentuates lines and wrinkles. Drinking water keeps your skin plump, so lines and wrinkles are less noticeable.
- Helps You Lose Weight. People who drink water before meals lose weight faster than those who don’t. The extra water made them feel full and kept their hunger under control without adding any extra calories to their diet. Water also boosts your metabolism. Just 17 ounces is enough to increase your metabolic rate by 24-30 percent for up to 1.5 hours.
- Maintains Energy Levels & Muscle Function. When your muscles become dehydrated, they lose electrolytes. Electrolytes carry the electrical charges that tell your muscles when to expand and contract. Without them, your muscles cramp, your physical strength diminishes, and you lose muscle control. A general feeling of lethargy sets in and it becomes difficult to stay active.
- Aids Digestion. Water is required to maintain the correct pH level in your stomach, so you can break down and absorb your food. It’s also required to dissolve fats and fibers. It binds to waste products, which reduces your risk of constipation, and flushes out your kidneys, which lowers your risk of kidney stones.
- Protects Joints & Cartilage. The cartilage between your joints is made of 60-85 percent water. When you become dehydrated, your body pulls fluids from your cartilage, making your joints more vulnerable to friction and damage.
- Reduces Risk of Heart Disease. Your blood is 92 percent water. As you lose fluids, this percentage drops and the blood in your veins becomes thicker, which puts more stress on your heart. In fact, dehydration exacerbates four independent risk factors that lead to heart disease: whole blood viscosity, plasma viscosity, hematocrit (the proportion of your blood made up red blood cells), and fibrinogen (a protein involved in blood clots). Doctors have found that drinking five or more glasses of water a day reduces the risk of heart attack by 13 percent in men and 147 percent in women.
- Reduces Risk of Cancer. Drinking lots of water reduces your risk of bladder cancer. It keeps toxins from building up on your bladder and dilutes cancer agents in your bloodstream.
How Much Water Should you Drink Every Day?
You’ve probably heard that you need to drink eight glasses of water (6-12 cups) each day to stay healthy. This is an old guideline published in 1945 by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Since then, doctors have revised their recommendations. Now they estimate that you should drink half an ounce to one ounce of water for every pound you weigh, depending on where you live and how active you are. A 100-pound person living in a cold climate requires less water than someone living in a warm climate. Likewise, a person who exercises more often requires more water each day than someone who doesn’t. Here’s how it breaks down:
|Weight||Light Activity||Moderate Activity||Strenuous Activity|
|100 lbs.||6.25 Cups||9.4 Cups||12.5 Cups|
|125 lbs.||7.8 Cups||11.7 Cups||15.6 Cups|
|150 lbs.||9.4 Cups||14.1 Cups||18.75 Cups|
|175 lbs.||87.5 Cups||16.4 Cups||21.9 Cups|
|200 lbs.||12.5 Cups||18.75 Cups||25 Cups|
|225 lbs.||14.1 Cups||21.1 Cups||28.1 Cups|
|250 lbs.||15.6 Cups||23.4 Cups||31.25 Cups|
*1 Cup = 8 Oz.
How Do You Know If You’re Not Drinking Enough Water?
If you’re worried you might not be drinking enough water, keep an eye out for these common symptoms of dehydration.
- Bad Breathe. Bad breath is caused by bacterial buildup on your gums, teeth, and tongue. Saliva has anti-bacterial properties that keep your breathe clean. The more dehydrated you are, the less saliva you have and the more likely it is your breath will smell bad.
- Dry Skin. Dry, flaky skin occurs when your body pulls water from skin cells in order to keep the rest of your body functioning normally.
- Muscle Cramps. When muscles become dehydrated, they seize up more often.
- Hunger. Your body needs water to release calories stored in fat cells. Without water, your body can’t draw enough calories from your fat stores, so you often get hungry. Cravings for sugary foods like chocolate are common, but the best remedy is fruits and vegetables with a high water content, such as strawberries, watermelon, cucumbers, or tomatoes.
- Headaches. Your brain is protected by a layer of fluid that keeps it from hitting the inside of your skull. When you’re dehydrated, the amount of fluid around your brain decreases and your brain bumps up against your skull more often, leading to headaches.
- Sleepiness or Lethargy. As your body becomes dehydrated, slows your basic functions to conserve whatever water you has left, which is why people who are dehydrated also tend to feel sleepy and lethargic.
- Fevers & Chills. If you lose enough water, your will eventually lose your ability to regulate your body temperature. This is the most serious symptom of dehydration. If your body temperature rises above 101°F, get out of the sun, drink water, and rest.
An easy way to check your hydration level is to pull up on the skin on the back of your hand. Dry skin is less elastic that hydrated skin, so if it doesn’t spring back immediately, it’s a good bet you’re dehydrated. Also, pay attention to the color of your urine. If it’s dark instead of clear, your body needs more water.