Monday, February 19, 2018

Salud! Drink to Your Health

November 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Ancient Mariner may have bemoaned his thirst (”Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink”) but we live in an age and area that allows us access to clean water. Yet the fact is that plenty of us take in too little water to keep our minds and bodies going full-tilt.

I promise this article won’t demand you drink a gallon of water daily or send you to the bathroom so often that life passes you by. It’s instead a look at why introducing more water into your day should almost certainly make you feel better.

Our bodies are about 60 percent water. Water is an essential nutrient aiding in many regular functions such as circulation, digestion, cell production, energizing muscles, cushioning cartilage, protecting the spine, flushing toxins from the organs and our skin, creating saliva, producing tears, and regulating body temperature. Stores of water are depleted day and night through breathing, sweating, and elimination (along with illnesses with a fever or medications we may take) so it’s up to us to restore the fluid lost.

Obviously, drinking plain water is the easiest way to, well, get enough water. Drink as soon as you wake up — it helps banish the fogginess. A large drink before every meal hydrates you while helping you feel fuller, faster. Trade the small glass by your plate at meals for a large goblet, and swap out your regular-sized coffee (or tea) cup for a giant mug.

Yes, the water you use to make caffeinated beverages counts towards your nutritional needs — if you treat them as refreshing or energizing beverages that may have health benefits. However, if the coffee or tea you consume is just a delivery system for sugar, syrup, and cream, you’re veering way off the road to maximum health. The same goes for soda, which contains water but also sweeteners or chemicals. If you aren’t ready to wean yourself off of soda just yet, never drink from a can or bottle, but instead toss lots of ice into a glass and drink that melted ice after the soda is gone.

Add more ice cubes and/or water to the blender when you make a smoothie or protein shake. Include watery cucumbers with every salad. Use less salty broth and more plain water (a few more herbs will mask the switch) when you make soup.

While fruit juices do contain fluid, swigging them to increase your fluid intake also ups your calorie intake. Try slicing an apple or an orange into a pitcher of water and eating the fruit when all the water’s gone. It’s refreshing and nutritious and is a lot less expensive than the same amount of fruit juice. Drop a few frozen grapes or blackberries into every glass of water, or freeze watermelon into ice cubes.

Are you a person who says, “I drink when I’m thirsty”? Thirst is an indication that your body is running low on needed fluids, but it’s not the only one. Like many other things in life, prevention is better than cure, so providing your body with a steady stream of hydration is preferable to letting it run very low and then flushing your system (surplus water makes kidneys work overtime to excrete the excess). Tweaking water intake upwards all day — being mindful of the weather, your level of exercise, and medical conditions — will soon find you feeling peppier and more clear-eyed. When you’ve found your optimum water intake, by all means drink to that!

Additional tips and recipe:

By Lita Smith-Mines


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