When we talk about nutrients (the building blocks that make up our diet), we usually talk about carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals. We often forget that “water” really belongs in that row of important parts of our daily intake. In fact, water really is the most important one. Drinking water is essential for our health.
Every day our body needs water that is present in food, liquids and plain water, to replace the large amounts of fluids that we lose via urine, stool, breathing and skin evaporation. When our fluid intake does not equal our output, we become dehydrated.
Water is the second most popular beverage in the U.S., after soft drinks. This is a scary statistic, since sugary soda is a huge health hazard, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, stroke and other heart problems. Sadly, though fruit juices will provide some vitamins (and, when fortified, minerals too), there is just as much or more sugar in fruit juices and will increase the risk of the same diseases as drinking soda. Therefore, if you want to make just ONE decision to improve your health, STOP drinking soda and juices, and grab a drink of water. There are so many benefits. Here are a few:
- Fluid balance: 60% of our body is made of water and, water delivers nutrients to the cells, regulates body temperature and helps to digest food.
- Calorie control: 1 can of soda (12 oz) contains about 40 grams of sugars, which means 140 calories! Drinking water instead of diet soda is a good idea, as it trains us to crave sweets less often. Drinking water helps us to feel full and will fight off a craving to snack.
- Blood pressure: water helps maintain normal blood pressure.
- Kidney function: our kidneys process 200 quarts of blood daily, sifting out waste and transporting urine to the bladder. Our kidneys need enough fluid to clear away what we don’t need in our bodies.
- Muscle power: when muscles don’t have enough water, they get tired. So for more energy, it’s important to drink enough water.
- Beautiful skin: dehydration makes our skin look dry and wrinkled.
- Normal bowel function: drinking plenty of water adds fluids to the colon, which prevents constipation.
The amount of water we need is up for debate, but studies suggest that we drink at least 8 glasses (8 oz) per day. Of course the amount may vary depending on our age, our activity level, our climate and how much water we are consuming in other beverages and water rich fruit and vegetables.
To keep yourself hydrated:
- Start your day by drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up.
- Drink a glass of water 30 min before every meal (this will help control your appetite as well)
- Keep a water bottle on hand at all times, in your car, at your desk etc.
- If you get bored from just plain water, try sparkling water, or add a little squeeze of lemon or lime.
Schwecher, Laura: 12 unexpected reasons to drink more water this new year, greatest.com/health/reasons-to-drink-water, December 2014
Zelman, Kathleen: 6 reasons to drink water, WebMD.com Archive