Make hydration part of daily routine

By ZELDA FELIX-MOTTLEY
Michigan State University Extension

Has your New Year’s resolution fallen flat already? Here’s to a delayed resolution to a new you: Resolve to drink more water.

Sorry to spoil your anticipation of a good reason to drink more of anything else. Most of us do not drink enough water to keep our bodies well hydrated for the long haul of life.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a great read on water and nutrition, water glassvisit www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/.

Getting enough water is important for many functions in the body, but you don’t have to only get hydration from plain water. The CDC suggests that you can get fluids from high water content food that you eat, foods like melons, fruit and some vegetables.

We all know there are many benefits to drinking water, but many of us may still fall short.

How much water should we drink? The United States Department of Agriculture’s Choose MyPlate recommends that we let our thirst be our guide!

Water is an important nutrient, but everyone’s needs are different based on various factors such as diet, activity level and age. Most of us get enough water from the foods and beverages we consume during the day. However, MSU Extension says that if you are physically active, live, work or play in a hot environment, or are an older adult, you may want to increase your water intake to prevent dehydration.

By the end of this year, you should be well on your way to making drinking more water a successful resolution. Visit other health and nutrition sites at Michigan State University Extension.

Tips to increase water consumptionfruit

  • Access how much water, in cups, you currently drink in a given day, and resolve to drink one cup more. If you don’t like to drink water, consider drinking flavored water at first, then water it down gradually. Alternate flavored water with pure water throughout the day. Add fruit, like sliced lemon, lime, peaches, cucumber or mint for a more natural water flavor additive. Just be prepared to visit the restroom more frequently, and you may want to plan drinking around facility availability at first. Be intentional about taking water with you wherever you go, planning makes a difference.
  • As your body becomes accustomed to consuming more water, add yet another cup. Be sure to start and end your day with a cup of water. Put containers of water all around your home, car, work or school – this will encourage more drinking. You can even encourage a friend or family member to start with you and compare consumption regularly. If it will help, treat yourself to a new water containers from time-to-time.
  • Don’t make this about money; water, for the most part, is free. When you’ve adjusted to increased water consumption, try to add a true cup (8 ounces) to your daily routine. Most importantly, don’t give up! It takes approximately 21 attempts to create a habit. Become a habitual drinker.

Drinking water:

  • Helps with losing weight – water has zero calories and research indicates that drinking water 20 minutes before meals makes us feel fuller and can reduce the amount of calories we normally consume.
  • Improves skin – water absorbed by cells improves the elasticity and moisture of our skin.
  • Improves the brain – the brain is made up of approximately 80 percent water, so it’s essential to keep it hydrated. Lack of water can notably affect our focus and memory ability.
  • Fuels muscles – our bodies are made up of approximately 70 percent water, but our muscles tissues contain up to 75 percent. Muscles require a lot of water, especially when we’re trying to gain muscle.
  • Assists with digestion – in order for our body to absorb all of its essential nutrients, we need a strong digestive system. Water helps move food through our body and can aid in the prevention of constipation and irregularity.
  • Fights sickness – water can aid in lessening congestion and helps keep our bodies in better condition, which is the first step in the prevention of many seasonal colds and flus.
  • Improves mood – dehydration can make us irritable and less comfortable, which can create serious problems with our mood.
  • Reduces cancer risk – water keeps cells healthy and may be responsible for combating certain cancers such as bowel and breast cancer.
  • Keeps kidneys healthy – our kidneys are responsible for filtering what we put in our body. Kidneys require a lot of fresh water to do their job.

— by Kris Swartzendruber, Michigan State University Extension

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