Water is important for your health
Water makes up 70% of your body weight (and your brain is 90% water!). That’s why it’s so important to drink enough each day. When you drink enough water, you’re able to flush toxins, deliver nutrients to cells, and maintain moisture in your tissues. Staying hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels and to the muscles. In other words, your heart does not have to work so hard.
An additional benefit of drinking water is that it can help with weight loss, or in maintaining a healthy weight. Staying hydrated helps your metabolism operate at a healthy rate. Your body reacts similarly to hunger and thirst signals, so drinking water before and with meals may help you eat less.
Most importantly, drink water to avoid dehydration. Mild dehydration can make you feel tired and sluggish and make it difficult to focus on tasks. It can also cause headaches and cramping. Severe dehydration is considered a medical emergency!
How much water do you need?
Every person has different needs, but aim to drink at least 64 ounces of water each day. If you perspire heavily, have certain medical conditions, or are on certain medications know as diuretics, you may need to drink more water. Regular exercisers, those spending time in hot and humid weather, and those traveling, will also need to make sure to drink more water.
Unfortunately, thirst is not a good indicator that you need to drink water. If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated. They best way to know if you are staying adequately hydrated is to pay attention to the color of your urine. If it is dark, drink more fluids. If it is pale in color, you are doing a great job! Drink enough so that you have to go to the bathroom every two to four hours.
For athletes wanting to know exactly how much water they need, they should weigh themselves before and after exercise. For every pound you lose (in sweat), you will need to drink a pint of water to rehydrate.
Water is best
You can get water from most foods and drinks, but the most effective way to hydrate is to drink plain water. Many foods such as fruits, vegetables, soups and yogurt are good sources of fluids. Sports drinks might be useful to those participating in high intensity activity, but beware of the sugar content. Drinks containing caffeine act as a diuretic, causing you to lose fluids.
Tips for drinking more water
Many people aren’t drinking enough water each day. We are busy, and sometimes it is hard to remember to drink. Here are some tips on how to drink more:
- Add flavor – citrus fruits are classics, but also try herbs, watermelon and cucumber!
- Make it routine – drink a glass first thing in the morning, before every meal, and right before bed.
- Track it – buy a water bottle to keep track of how much you drink
- Take it with you – bring that same water bottle with you everywhere you go!