“Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” —Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Water is the most vital source of life. A human can survive almost a month without food, but no more than a week without water. Every single cell in our body depends on water. Our bodies are comprised of at least 60 percent of water and more specifically our brains, 70 percent.
It is critical for us to continuously keep our bodies well hydrated, primarily because we lose water daily from biological processes like perspiration (sweating), excretion (ridding body of waste) and respiration (breathing). Water offers the body many benefits, including:
Helps maintain homeostasis by regulating body temperature (via respiration and perspiration) and the balance of electrolytes.
Assists the kidneys in ridding your body of waste.
Carries various nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.
Is involved in an array of metabolic reactions that take place in our cells.
Lubricates your joints.
Helps reduce energy intake and appetite.
Unfortunately, many individuals can run the risk of inadequate water intake, which can lead to mild dehydration. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports older adults, children, residents of the northeast, sedentary individuals, and those with an intake of less than 4.5 servings of fruits/vegetables daily to have greater odds for low drinking water intake (1). Race/ethnicity and education-level were factors that also played a role in intake levels. What is surprising is that nearly 44 percent of adults report drinking less than four cups (32 ounces) of water a day. Sugary drinks, the leading source of added sugars in our diet, are consumed by half of the population in the U.S. on a given day (3).
Eating a balanced diet complete with high-water foods like fruits and vegetables contributes to your total fluid intake. Therefore, it is not necessary to take in the suggested amounts solely from your drinking water intake. Of course, your overall fluid intake will also depend on many factors that can influence hydration needs such as body size, level of physical activity, climate and diet to name a few. In general, a good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces every day. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, establishing a daily goal of drinking 75 ounces of water per day is sufficient.
“When the well is dry, we know the worth of water” -Benjamin Franklin
Access to clean, drinkable water sources is something many of us take for granted. In many countries around the world, less than half the population has access to clean water. This global crisis is one that we are not aware of simply because it’s a resource we expect each human to have a right to access. And, while this is true (United Nations in 2010 declared access to clean water a basic human right), one in ten people around the world are deprived of drinking water (4).
So what should we do? Let’s cherish the benefits of this life-giving resource and maintain our health by increasing our daily water intake and reducing water waste. Try using the nine tips below to help motivate yourself to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Although water is the most essential source for hydration, it is imperative to replenish electrolytes lost due to increased fluid loss from intense physical activity, high temperature climates or illnesses. Sweat is comprised of water and electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which help, maintain proper water balance and blood pH, muscle and cardiac function. Adequate hydration with an electrolyte replacement drink can help replenish essential nutrients to help reduce the risk of dehydration in these cases.
Spread your water intake throughout the day at a controlled pace. Drink two glasses of water after waking up, one glass before each meal, one glass between meals and one glass at night. Don’t forget to add additional glasses while engaging in physical activities.
If it’s difficult for you to remain consistent with staying hydrated throughout the day, try setting reminders on your mobile device to remind you to drink your water throughout the day. If you are an avid user of apps, there are many hydration reminder apps available for download on both Android and iPhone, which keep record of your intake and notify you when it’s time to hydrate again.
Whether you’re heading to the office, the gym or an outdoor activity with friends, bring a water bottle with you everywhere you go throughout the day. No need to carry around several water bottles – use a reusable water bottle and replenish as necessary when you are on-the-go, as many places provide free access to drinking water.
My personal favorite: the eco-friendly, BKR, which features a protective silicone sleeve with an elegant aesthetic to enhance your water drinking experience. There are so many different styles of water bottles out there – choosing one that fits your personality can actually make hydrating feel a little bit more fun.
Soft drinks and juices account for much of our fluid intake, but unfortunately are often linked to many health ailments like obesity, diabetes and tooth decay to name a few. Not to mention, these sugary drinks are loaded with empty calories, contributing to our overall energy intake (consumed calories). A typical soft drink contains an average of 150 calories and 39 grams of sugar per serving! Substituting sugary drinks for water cannot only help you maintain your waistline, but your wallet as well!
Many are discouraged from drinking water due to the lack of flavor. Try adding fruit like berries, oranges and limes or cucumbers and ginger to spruce up your water. If your vice is the fizzy nature of soda, try adding a portion of sparkling water to your glass. My favorite concoction is sliced strawberries and mint leaves.
Consuming an array of fruits and vegetables not only supplies your body with the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients it needs to function, but is a great way to keep your body hydrated. Foods like watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, tomatoes, spinach and cauliflower all contain an extremely high water content. Regularly adding these foods and others to your diet will ensure your body reaps the benefits of staying hydrated.
Recruit your family, friends or co-workers to join you in a 30-day drinking water challenge. This will ensure you receive the accountability you need to stay on track and can help you adopt this healthy habit into your lifestyle. Offer prizes for meeting weekly goals to make the challenge more rewarding.
Try brewing green tea to give your water a boost of flavor. At two calories per serving, this herb is rich in flavonols, polyphenols and catechins which boast antioxidant properties and serve as natural source of energy.
Which tip will you commit to incorporating into your healthy lifestyle?
cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2013/12_0248.htm nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2004/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-Water-Potassium-Sodium-Chloride-and-Sulfate.aspx cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/sugar-sweetened-beverages-intake.html fieldnotes.unicefusa.org/infographic-world-water-crisis