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Drink More Water! Your Life Depends On It

The body's daily amount of water loss is astounding, how can your body function without its most necessary participant?
It is well-rumored that drinking water is one of the healthiest and most beneficial daily choices you can make for your body's well-being. However, did you know that the old suggestion to drink eight glasses a day was nothing more than a guideline, not based on scientific evidence? A more accurate guide would be take your weight, and drink one liter of water for every 50 pounds (so a 150 lb person would need to drink a total of 3 liters that day).

But wait! Don't give up on water just yet. While we may not need exactly eight glasses, there are plenty of reasons to choose water over the more addictive alternatives. In fact, drinking water (either plain or in the form of other fluids or foods) is essential to your health.

The body loses large amounts of fluid constantly each day, whether through perspiration, breathing, restroom breaks or emotional distress. When your water intake does not equal your output, you can become dehydrated. Fluid losses are accentuated in warmer climates, during strenuous exercise, in high altitudes, and in older adults, whose sense of thirst may not be as sharp.

Here are valid reasons to make sure you're drinking enough water daily:
       
        1. Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids. Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature. When you're low on fluids, the brain triggers the body's thirst mechanism. Unless you are taking medications that make you thirsty, you should listen to those cues and get yourself a drink of water, juice, milk, coffee -- anything but alcohol. Although an enjoyable rare treat, alcohol interferes with the brain and kidney communication and causes excess excretion of fluids which can then lead to dehydration. If you are already thirsty, that is the onset of dehydration already!
       
        2. Water Can Help Control Calories. For years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy. Drinking more water removes by-products of fat, reduces eating intake (by filling up your tummy if consumed prior to meals), reduces hunger (hello natural appetite suppressant!), raises your metabolism and has zero calories! What works with weight loss is if you choose water or a non-caloric beverage over a caloric beverage and/or eat a diet higher in water-rich foods that are healthier and more filling, it will help you trim your calorie intake. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.
       
        3. Water Helps Energize Muscles. Cells that don't maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue. Since your brain is mostly water, drinking it helps you think, focus and concentrate better and be more alert. As an added bonus, your energy levels are also boosted! Drinking enough fluids is important when exercising. These guidelines recommend that people drink about 17 ounces of fluid about two hours before exercise. During exercise, they recommend that people start drinking fluids early, and drink them at regular intervals to replace fluids lost by sweating. It actually makes your muscles stronger. That's because water carries oxygen to the cells of your body, including those of your muscles. Drinking plenty of water enables your muscles to work harder and longer before they feel tired, and this can help you build muscle.
      
         4. Water Helps Keep Skin Looking Good. Your skin contains plenty of water, and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. Dehydration makes your skin look more dry and wrinkled, which can be improved with proper hydration. But once you are adequately hydrated, the kidneys take over and excrete excess fluids. You can also help "lock" moisture into your skin by using moisturizer, which creates a physical barrier to keep moisture in your skin.
       
        5. Water Helps Your Kidneys. Body fluids transport waste products in and out of cells. Your kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is adequate. When you're getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions. If you chronically drink too little, you may be at higher risk for kidney stones, especially in warm climates.
       
        6. Water Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function. Adequate hydration keeps things flowing along your gastrointestinal tract and prevents constipation. When you don't get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools to maintain hydration -- and the result is constipation.
      
         7. Water Boosts Your Immune System. A water guzzler is less likely to get sick. And who wouldn’t rather feel healthy the majority of the time? Drinking plenty of water helps fight against flu, cancer and other ailments like heart attacks.
      
         8. Natural Headache Remedy. Helps relieve and prevent headaches (migraines & back pains too!) which are commonly caused by dehydration. Proper hydration also helps keep joints lubricated and muscles more elastic so joint pain is less likely.
       
        9. Drinking Water Makes You Smarter. Drinking water can increase your cognitive function. Your brain needs a lot of oxygen in order to function at optimum levels. Drinking plenty of water ensures that your brain gets all the oxygen it needs. Drinking eight to ten cups of water per day can improve your levels of cognitive performance by as much as 30%! Drinking plenty of water also supports nerve function. It ensures that your body's electrolyte levels remain high enough to allow your nerves to relay messages to and from the brain in the way they were meant to work.

5 Tips to Help You Drink More
If you think you need to be drinking more, here are some tips to increase your fluid intake and reap the benefits of water:
1. Have a beverage with every snack and meal.
2. Choose beverages you enjoy; you're likely to drink more liquids if you like the way they taste.
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Their high water content will add to your hydration. About 20% of our fluid intake comes from foods.
4. Keep a bottle of water with you at your desk, or in your bag. The more you drink, the more you will crave.
5. Choose beverages that meet your individual needs. If you're watching calories, go for non-caloric beverages or water.

WARNING!!!
The boom of bottled water, while it popularized hydration, also triggered a huge influx of plastic bottles being dumped into our environment, which allows certain chemicals, like phthalates, to leech into the ground, water and our bodies. These pose various risks including cancer. Try to transport water in stainless steel or glass bottles. If you have plastic bottles, don't allow them to sit in the sun. Also, don't use plastic to carry or heat water, as this might increase chemical leeching. Grab a glass, grab a pitcher; just be sure to drink in the natural gifts of water.

Which Type is Best?
This might be relatively picky, but these days, there is bottled water, flavored water, vitamin water and of course, tap water. The best source for drinking and cooking, is water filtered through a reverse osmosis system. This is a very high grade filter that can be installed under your kitchen sink by a local water company. Any other form of regular water, tap or bottled, is still better than a soda. Vitamin and specialty waters can become a problem due to added sugars. Others promise extra vitamins when in fact they contain very few. In truth, water doesn't need to provide anything other than water. It's important enough.
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