ISHPEMING - Oxygen and water are two things critical to life for human beings, and while getting enough oxygen might not be an everyday concern for most people, drinking enough water should be a target for everyone, particularly those wanting to follow a healthier lifestyle.
"When it's hot like it has been, boy, it's just critical," said Patricia Smith, a dietitian with Marquette General Hospital. "It is the most vital aspect of our physiology."
The common recommendation for adults is to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day.
Water bottles line the table at a recent Healthy Weight Journal Community Wellness Challenge meeting. Water is essential not only for life, but for health, with six to eight 8-ounce glasses of pure water recommended for adults each day. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
"When it's hot like it has been, through respiration, elimination and perspiration, you lose a tremendous amount of water throughout the day and you have to replenish it," Smith said.
Staying hydrated helps keep organs such as kidneys and intestines working properly, helps maintain body temperature, keeps joints and muscles moving, as well as keeping skin looking healthy.
Although water can be found in liquids like milk, soup and fruit juice, eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content can also contribute to your water intake, providing vitamins, minerals and fiber at the same time.
A glass of plain water, however, is usually the best way to make sure you're getting enough.
"Unfortunately we drink a lot more in response to habit than we do out of actual thirst," Smith said, adding that the top beverages in the United States are coffee, pop and alcohol, all of which dehydrate the body instead of hydrating it.
Another problem with staying hydrated, Smith said, is that often thirst cues from the body can be mistaken for hunger, leading people to eat when their bodies really need some water.
The best practice is to sip water throughout the day, not try to gulp down several glasses of water at the end of the day, which will most likely have you up and going to the bathroom all night, Smith said. If you aim to drink half your recommended amount of water before lunch, you can stay hydrated without feeling overwhelmed by having to drink eight glasses at the end of the day.
In addition, Smith suggested having a drink of water first when you feel hungry.
"Take five minutes to sip a good-sized glass of water," Smith said. "The water fills you up. It also takes away some of the cravings."
For those who exercise regularly or during warm weather, drinking extra water is a necessary to keep the body functioning. Those who are trying to lose weight will also find that increasing the amount of water they are drinking helps take the pounds off, Smith said.
Although drinking more water may mean more trips to the bathroom initially, Smith said water drinkers don't typically spend all their time there.
"Drinking water is just like anything else," she said. "Things we do all the time our body adjusts to."
Water might be good for the body, however the taste or lack thereof can sometimes deter people from getting as much as they need. Flavored waters can help, although Smith advised caution.
"Be a label reader with these flavored waters," she said, advising people to be aware of artificial sweeteners and flavorings.
Popular fitness and weight loss website Sparkpeople.com also advises its members to drink enough water and suggests the following tips to get in your eight glasses:
- Try flavoring your own water using a slice of lemon. For those used to drinking something hot in the morning, nuke a mug of water and drink it while your waiting for your coffee or tea to be ready.
- Invest in a nice water bottle, one that you'll be sure to hang on to and use.
- Sip your water through a straw throughout the day to avoid feeling like you're gulping it down.
- Keep a water bottle in your car so it's within reach while you're driving.
- Drink water with meals, taking sips between bites.
- If you don't like the taste of the water that comes out of your tap, buy a filtering pitcher.
- Hold onto a cup of water at social events so you still feel included while everyone around you is drinking, but you'll be consuming water instead of something with calories.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.