Drink Water

As someone who carries around water with her at all moments of the day, I'm surprised I haven't shared this dare sooner.

Dare you to drink (more) water.  Water is, literally, a primary element of life, and proper hydration is the key to health.  Interestingly, this is one piece of advice that seems to be unanimously agreed upon, no matter what type of health professional you ask.  It's almost too obvious; of course you want to drink water!  Of course it's good for you.  Of course it's pretty much all you need to be drinking.

If you're already a water fiend like I am, then ditch this post and go down your bottle.  If you're not a fan of water, or think you could benefit from drinking more water, read on:

Why?  There are plenty of benefits to drinking water:
  • Hydration. Duh.  Our bodies--which are 60% water--are constantly losing that water, so it's important to replace replace replace!
  • Increased energy. Our cells require water to function, and thus so do we. Drink up!
  • Natural detoxification. Water enables our bodies to remove waste via urination, perspiration, and defecation.  Similarly...
  • Improved complexion.  This may be related to the detox factor, but however it works, water helps keep our skin looking great!
  • Digestion. From top to bottom, water makes it all possible, from top (water-based saliva) to bottom (helps digest soluble fiber, which makes stools easier to pass)
  • Weight loss.  This is partially a side effect of all of the other benefits--increased energy, improved digestion, etc.  Plus, there's the bonus of not mistaking thirst for hunger.  
  • FREE. Water is FREE!  How awesome does it feel to not have to pay for a drink (soft, hard, caffeinated, or otherwise)?  Pretty awesome.

Based on my personal experience, water keeps things working and helps relieve whatever isn't.  
There's a reason that any cold or flu diagnosis is followed by "drink plenty of fluids."  Similarly, whenever I feel a headache coming on, my first line of defense is to drink more water.  It's that simple.  My headaches usually only come when I haven't had any water for an extended period of time.  You may notice that drinking water helps relieve some of your trouble spots, no medication needed!

Water can also provide a boost of energy.  When you're feeling sluggish, try reaching for a glass of water!  Instant energy, sans caffeine or sugar.

How much water?  What's the sweet spot for water consumption?

Most sources seem to recommend eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but more folks are beginning to advise a more personalized approach.  If you're already eating tons of water-dense foods, then maybe you won't be so thirsty.  If you're working out intensely on a daily basis, then you may be need more water to replace what you sweat out.  We're all unique, and so are our water needs.

So test it out and don't worry about easing in.  Drink when thirsty, and don't when full.  If you're like my father who barely drank any water at all, follow his lead and ease in with a single glass at a time.  Swap just one soda for one water.  Take it one glass and one day at a time.

How?  Tips for increasing your daily intake of water:
  • Keep a glass by your desk
  • Keep a filtered water bottle in your bag (I love [this one by Camelbak]) -- a filter makes it easy to refill anywhere, anytime
  • Set reminders in your phone to refill that glass/bottle and drink up!
  • Keep a glass on your nightstand to drink first thing in the morning
  • Make a rule to have a glass of water before any other drink (before, say, an alcoholic beverage or a soda with lunch) 

Are you one of those people who "doesn't like the taste of water"?  (Which I always found ridiculous, because those same people often claim water has no taste...)

More Tricks: If you're NOT a big fan of water, try these ways to consume water in disguise:
  • Tea (hot or cold) 
  • Infused water, or simply sprinkled with a fruit of some kind 
  • Carbonated water.  You can make your own at home with this. 
  • Water/ice in a smoothie 
  • Fruits and vegetables have high water content; yes, that counts! 
Women's Health Magazine has other tips--10 Ways to Drink More Water--to help you up your water intake, including recommendations for useful reminder apps and cool filters.

So go ahead!  Pour yourself a glass!  

How do YOU maintain proper hydration? 

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