The dog days of summer bring heat and humidity, reminding us to lift our glasses and hydrate frequently.
Now, as temperatures begin to cool, most of us don’t realize how important it is to continue to drink an adequate amount of fluids. In any weather, our bodies require proper hydration — water is the largest component of the human body, making up about 60 percent of your body weight. Aside from the process of urination, you lose water regularly through your breath, skin, and bowel movements.
Water is guilt-free: It contains no calories, no sugar, no sodium, and no artificial sweeteners — there’s no reason not to sip frequently. While the quality of your tap water depends on your location, bottled water is the perfect clean alternative (especially for on the go).
Hydration is important for everyone. At school your kids need to stay hydrated, especially for after school sports and activities. Bottled water is a beverage with benefits. It costs less than most other sugar-sweetened beverages and provides valuable health benefits.
Despite knowing that we need to consume more liquids, most Americans are not adequately hydrated. Here are seven tips to help you raise a glass (or bottle) year round:
1. Wake up with a glass of water. Whether you have medications to take or you’re heading to the gym or office, sipping a large glass of water first thing in the morning is a great way to welcome the day ahead.
2. Count your bottles (or glasses). If you have no clue how much water you imbibe per day, keep a record. Most of the people I counsel can give me a detailed description of what they eat, but not the beverages they drink.
3. See if you’re ‘hirsty.’ Thirst often disguises itself as hunger. If you think you’re hungry, especially if you’ve eaten within the past two hours, it may just be your body telling you you’re thirsty. Before you reach for a snack, drink a glass of water, wait 10 minutes, and reassess your hunger.
4. Become more aware as you age. The elderly have increased needs for water because of a decreased ability to detect thirst. Remember that unsweetened tea and coffee are also water-based and great hydrating alternatives to plain water. Decaffeinated versions are equally desirable.
5. Beware of beverages with bogus promises! Although clear-colored, some waters artificially flavored and sweetened and may contain hidden calories, sugars, vitamins, and caffeine. Jazz up your glass by adding sliced fresh fruit or frozen fruit as ice cubes. You can also add cut fruit to a steamy mug of herbal tea. Be sure to read your labels to see what you’re really sipping. Here’s my take on some of the hot designer waters you should beware of.
6. Snack on water-filled foods. Sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, and celery are great portals for your favorite dip (like my guac-humm-mole). These great snacks are comprised of mostly water and can contribute to your daily quota.
7. Other fluids count too. You don’t have to just drink water in order to meet you the recommended seven to nine daily cups of fluids. As previously mentioned, coffee, tea, and water-filled foods can contribute to your total daily fluid needs. Other liquids that count as well include low-fat and fat-free milk, broth-based soups, and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice.
Most importantly, don’t wait until you’re thirst to drink, especially when exercising. For more on how to assess and meet your hydration needs click here.
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