Staying healthy isn't just about the food we eat, but also the beverages we drink. Believe it or not water is the MOST important nutrient for our body. Involved in almost every process and function within the body, losing even 1% of our body water can result in decreased athletic ability, thirst, and reduced productivity.
Water is an amazing resource that regulates our body temperature, maintains electrolyte balance, lubricates our joints, transports nutrients and chemical messengers throughout our body, and flushes toxin from our body.
Water carries oxygen to our muscles and brain, helping them work harder and us to perform at our best.
Water keeps us looking young by maintaining moisture in our skin helping to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
We can even lose weight from staying well hydrated. Not only is water zero calories but staying well hydrated helps our body metabolize fat more efficiently.
Every day we lose water through sweat, breathing, and going to the bathroom. We lose even more when we exercise or are in a hot environment. We need to replace fluid losses in a timely manner and can use a basic formula to estimate our daily needs. Try to drink half your body weight in fluid ounces. (For example if you weigh 160lbs your goal is to drink 80oz or 10 cups of fluid each day.)
While really any fluid counts towards your daily goal (juice, soda, coffee, ice cream, soup) I like to recommend drinking primarily water, and consume the other sources in moderation.
How can you add more water into your everyday life?
Drink a cup of water when you wake up and with each meal
Replace 1 cup of your usual soda or juice with water instead
Carry a water bottle with you
Add citrus fruit or cucumber to flavor your water
If you do drink juice water it down to reduce calories and sugar intake
Drink before you feel thirsty
What about during exercise?
It is recommended to rehydrate every 15-20 minutes by drinking about 6-12oz. Water is the best source unless you are exercising greater than an hour. Athletes working out greater than an hour can benefit from extra electrolytes and sugar to help replenish glycogen stores. Drinking a sports drink instead can help athletes maintain their stamina and perform better than water alone.
Can you drink too much water?
Of course...drinking too much water, just like eating too much of one food, can make us sick. Consuming too much water is mostly a concern for ultra distance and endurance athletes...such as marathon runners and ironman triathletes. Drinking too much water without enough electrolytes can cause lower than normal sodium levels called hyponatremia. Just remember to drink in moderation and not go overboard with the water bottle.