Hydration Helps Your Health
Guess which nutrient is calorie-free, salt-free, sugar-free and fat-free? Water: the most important nutrient for your body.
Why is water so great for your body's health?
Breathing, circulation, body temperature regulation and the senses all rely on your body having sufficient water. Being dehydrated can also affect your mood, making you cranky, tired or irritable.
Water helps to flush out excess toxins, maintains regularity, transports nutrients and oxygen, and best of all, increases energy and helps fight fatigue. New research even suggests that middle-aged adults can lower their long-term risk for heart failure by simply drinking enough water on a daily basis.
Choose Water For Optimal Hydration
Most people when tired head to the vending machine for a soda or local coffee shop for a pick me up. Caffeinated or sugary drinks will give you an initial boost of energy but will inevitably give you that crash a few hours later. Instead, water will help to keep you hydrated, leading to more consistent energy levels throughout the day.
Do Sports Drinks Help?
"One issue with sports drinks is that many people drink them instead of water when working out and many drink them without working out at all as a 'healthy alternative' to soda," said Pamela Johnson, BS, HHP-AADP, CFMP, RYT, Franciscan WorkingWell. "The general rule is that unless you work out for 45 minutes to an hour, water is the best hydration. After an hour, electrolytes and salts may need to be replenished. For those who drink them without working out, this is not a healthy choice. The calorie or sugar content is very high in these drinks and even endurance athletes know not to use refined sugar as fuel."
It is also important to know the difference between sports drinks and energy drinks. Some energy drinks contain up to 500 mg of caffeine which can cause heart palpitations and high blood pressure. The stimulants in these drinks can create a problem when using them to keep cool in hot temperatures.
It is easy to guzzle these drinks and often drink more than the serving size. (There is generally more than one serving in bottle). This not only increases calorie and sugar consumption but also caffeine levels, which can increase dehydration.
Are You Drinking Enough Water?
The Institute of Medicine in the United States recommending a liquid intake at just under 3.2 quarts for men, and just over 2 quarts for women. Start with the minimum of eight - 8 oz. (1 cup) glasses of pure water per day. But another way to gauge how much water to consume is to take your body weight and divide by 2, which equals how many ounces of water you should drink per day.
How To Increase Your Water Intake
Not a fan of water? Start slowly so your body can get used to the extra fluid you are consuming. Consider trading one caffeinated or sweetened beverage and replacing with 20 oz. of cold water every day until you are mostly consuming water. More tips for increasing your water intake:
- Try using a BPA-free water bottle to reuse throughout the day or drink from an insulated cup. These keep water ice cold all day and they help you count how many glasses you drink. If you are in the mood for something besides water, jazz it up a bit.
- To avoid artificial sweeteners, stay away from flavored water. You can add fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables, and herbs to add a little variety such as lemon, cucumber, or mint.
- Plan ahead and make infused water. Add sliced lemon, strawberries, orange, or cucumber, etc into a water pitcher, fill with ice and water and leave in fridge overnight. Pour into your water bottle for some added flavor throughout the day. Try unsweetened ice tea with a slice of lemon to give you a different flavor without adding sugar.
- Consider buying a pitcher that filters water or a filter that attaches to your faucet.
- This summer as the temps start to rise, reach for that reusable body of water instead of iced coffee, pop or lemonade!