Written by: Esperança Board Member, Julie Kurtz, MS, RD, CDE
In Esperança’s Quarterly Newsletter, I read about Maria… a mother who has hope because her family no longer has to worry about drinking and cooking with dirty water. Maria is responsible for all the water her family needs for cooking, cleaning, drinking and washing. Before she had clean water piped to a spout just outside her home, she made multiple trips carrying the over 40 pounds of water her family used each day. The importance of water seems unmissable when you don’t have access to it.
I began to think about how important water is to me and to each one of us! Did you know that your body is half water? Your body depends on water to survive. That’s right…take 50% of your weight and that is how much water your body stores and needs to function every day! It makes me wonder how much dirty water Maria would have to carry every day for herself, her husband, and their six children.
Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints.
You may have heard different recommendations for how to stay hydrated. Most people think they should drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, which is a reasonable goal. However, we are all unique and need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. Most healthy people can stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some people, fewer than 8 glasses may be enough. Other’s may need more than 8 glasses each day. If you are concerned that you are not drinking enough water, check your urine. If it is consistently colorless or light yellow, you are most likely staying well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber-colored urine is a sign of dehydration.
Drinking water is tough for some of us, and if you are one of those people you may ask what else can I drink to stay hydrated? Of course, water is the best option. Other drinks and foods can help you stay hydrated, but many add extra calories from sugar to your diet. Drinks like fruit and vegetable juices, milk, and herbal teas can contribute to the amount of water you get each day. Water can also be found in fruits and vegetables (think watermelon, tomatoes, and lettuce) and in soup broths.
Have you ever wondered about sports and energy drinks? For most people, water is all that is needed to maintain good hydration. However, if you are planning on exercising at a high intensity for longer than an hour, a sports drink may be helpful. It contains carbohydrates and electrolytes that can increase your energy and help your body absorb water.
I know what you’re thinking now…what about caffeine?
Even caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea and soda can contribute to your daily water intake. A moderate amount of caffeine (200 to 300 milligrams) is not harmful for most people. This is about the amount in two to four 8-ounce cups of coffee. However, too much caffeine can cause adverse effects so it is best to stick to your own safe caffeine limit.
Especially for those of us who are living in warmer climates or planning to escape to one this winter, I thought a top 5 tip list for staying hydrated would be useful.
Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. I put a bottle in my purse as I am walking out the door every morning and try to drink the water as I am driving into work.
If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink. Any citrus will do! A slice of zucchini will give your water a nice flavor as well.
Be sure to drink water before, during, and after a workout.
When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan. Some research suggests that drinking water can help you feel full.
If you have trouble remembering to drink water, think about getting an app on your phone that will serve as a reminder! CLICK HERE for a list of popular apps from Culligan!