The Wonders of Water
Water has been called a "miracle fluid" and for good reason. No other substance does so much for us at so little cost. Christine Palumbo, RD, a FoodFit nutritionist, extols the virtues of a little H2O.
Water plays a role in nearly every body function. It regulates body temperature, assists in digestion, caries nutrients to body cells, and helps in elimination of waste products. It may also assist in weight control.
Benefits Now and Later
People who up their intake report immediate benefits. According to Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, author of Power Eating, staying well-hydrated prevents "fatigue, headache, burning dry eyes, burning in the stomach, dry mouth, loss of concentration, reduced mental and physical capacity, and poor heat acclimation."
But the benefits don't end there. Over time, well-hydrated people suffer less colon, urinary tract and breast cancer, kidney stones, constipation and mitral valve prolapse.
Eight Glasses a Day?
Just how much do you need? We've all heard eight glasses, but is that true for all? One simple rule of thumb is this: Divide your weight in pounds by two. That's the minimum number of ounces your body needs. If you exercise, you need more. Take your weight and multiply by 2/3 to get the number of ounces. Your specific needs may differ.
Dry environments, like airplanes and shopping malls, heated office buildings and hospitals all increase your need for water, as do hot, humid or cold weather.
Don't rely on thirst to indicate your fluid needs. It's actually a symptom of dehydration. It's best to drink before you're thirsty. And waiting until you're thirsty is an especially bad idea when you're over fifty. That's because our thirst mechanism becomes blunted as we age. And everyone should have a water plan, just like a food plan.
One of the best indicators of adequate hydration is frequent urination and urine that's pale in color. However, taking vitamin supplements may color your urine. In that case, let volume guide you.
All fluids are not created equal. That's because beverages containing caffeine or alcohol actually remove water from the body. The worst offender is alcohol.
Bottled vs. Tap
Any type of water will hydrate you, regardless of where it comes fromtap or bottle. But some people dislike the taste of their tap water. Others have concerns about tap water safety. If it means drinking enough water, it makes sense to drink bottled.
Children who drink bottled water may not obtain needed fluoride. Ask your bottled water company if their product contains fluoride. If not, ask your dentist about supplements.
Getting Your Fill
- Do you need help getting enough? Try these little rituals and see your water consumption rise:
- Develop a "hydration" habit a glass of water when you wake up, one at each meal and one an hour before bedtime.
- Select a beautiful crystal goblet and place it on your desk. Drink only water from it. Chances are you'll want to drink more.
- Keep single-serving sized bottled water in your car, backpack or desk.
- Enjoy one glass every hour on the hour while at work. When the workday is over, your water quota is met.
- Drink two glasses at each meal, one before and one after. You may find you don't eat as much!