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13 Surprising Benefits of Water
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Keeps You Looking Young
"You can look significantly younger just by keeping your skin hydrated," says Howard Murad, M.D., associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of The Water Secret: The Cellular Breakthrough to Look and Feel 10 Years Younger. "Water naturally plumps skin, fills in fine lines and wrinkles, and boosts a lackluster complexion." He recommends drinking lots of water (the Institute of Medicine's most recent water-intake guidelines suggest 11 8-ounce glasses of water a day) and using products on the skin that contain hyaluronic acid, which creates a moisture barrier, helping it hold on to water longer.
To make sure your tap water is safe, visit EWG.org, which houses water-safety ratings of cities across the country. If you live in a place with a bad rating, if your home is older and has lead pipes, or even if you just don't like the taste of your tap water, use a filter, like the Brita On Tap Faucet Mount Filtration System.
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Helps Prevent Colds
Washing your hands regularly with soap and lukewarm water is the best way to stave off germs that can make you sick. But hand hygiene doesn't stop when the faucet turns off. Drying hands properly is essential, too, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, which found that even slightly damp hands can increase the spread of bacteria. Be sure to dry hands thoroughly, and if you're using an electric airdryer, don't rub your hands together. The same study found that this action could actually increase the growth of bacteria.
Smoothes and Soothes
There's nothing like a warm bath to melt away stress. But to get the most from your time in the tub, add bath oil, says Dr. Murad. It will attract water to your skin and make it smooth and silky, more able to hang on to that healthy hydration you're soaking in. Following your soak, gently pat yourself dry and immediately apply a body lotion to help lock in moisture.
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Helps You Lose Weight
You've been told that drinking water could help you drop pounds, and now there's research to back that up. A study presented at last year's National Meeting of the AmericanChemical Society reported that adults who drank two 8-ounce glasses of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner ate 75 to 90 fewer calories during each meal. Over three months, study participants in the water-drinking group lost an average of five pounds more than dieters who didn't sip extra water.
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Before applying makeup, splash your face with cold water. This simple trick shrinks pores naturally, making foundation look and stay smoother, says Renée Rouleau, skincare expert and licensed aesthetician.
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Boosts Mood and Brain Power
Dehydration doesn't just make you feel thirsty. Researchers from Tufts University say that even mild dehydration is associated with feelings of anger, depression, and confusion. Also, a study from King's College in London found that long periods of dehydration could impair brain functions, like planning and spatial relations.
Got acne? Try this insider secret from skincare specialist Rouleau: "Drink hot lemon water first thing in the morning to reduce bacteria internally, lessening breakouts," she says.
- ANDY LYONS
"Eating colorful raw fruits and vegetables provides your cells structured water, the best form," says Dr. Murad. "Structured water stays in your system long enough to nourish and hydratecells, and as a bonus, these sources of water are also rich in cell-protecting antioxidants and health-enhancing fiber." Cucumbers, papayas, and watermelon are just some of the produce aisle gems that are more than 90 percent water.
- ADAM GREGOR /VEER
Relieves a Sore Throat
The next time you feel a scratch creep into your throat, try a saltwater gargle. It can't hurt, according to the Mayo Clinic, and it might just help. Stir 1/4 teaspoon salt into an 8-ounce glass of warm water, take a sip, and gargle. Spit the water out, and repeat until the glass is empty.
- KRITSADA PANICHGUL
Water is pure and gentle on its own, but when combined with other natural ingredients it becomes a superstar cleaning agent, says Sara Snow, green lifestyle expert and author of Sara Snow's Fresh Living. Follow Sara's simple suds mixtures for a spotless home without using chemicals.
Fight grime: Combine water with baking soda to make a paste for a tough tub scrub.
Beat bacteria: Mix equal parts water and distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle to disinfect kids' toys, cutting boards, and kitchen counters.
De-streak glass: Pour 1/4 cup lemon juice in a spray bottle, fill with water, and spritz on windows and mirrors to remove fingerprints and other spots.
- BLAINE MOATS
Makes Veggies Even Healthier
You know that eating your veggies is key to great health, but how you prepare them is just as important. According to Alan Logan, ND, co-author of Your Skin, Younger: New Science Secrets to Reverse the Effects of Age, cooking vegetables without water on high heat can contribute to inflammation in the body, which can lead to faster aging. So instead of roasting orgrilling veggies, pop them in the steamer for a youth-enhancing side dish.
- DENISE CREW
Shines Up Hair
"Water can be naturally damaging to hair if it's too hard or soft," says Luis Alvarez, stylist and co-creator of Aquage salon products. "Hard water is harsh on hair, while soft water leaves hair limp and lifeless." To get hair to its best, follow your shampoo and conditioner with a hydrating product, like Biomega Moisture Mist, to seal the cuticle and lock in shine.
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"Water's calming effects are immeasurable," says Gabrielle Bernstein, author of Add More "ing" to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness. "The sound of running water triggers an immediate soothing response, which can reduce stress." Don't have awaterfall in your backyard? Rig up a simple tabletop fountain in your office for just-as-good effects. "Feng shui emphasizes the benefits of bringing running water into your home to enhanceoverall happiness and peace," Bernstein adds.