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Drink Up: Water, Hydration and Your Health

Common knowledge says that water is essential for life, and your body needs water even when you may not feel thirsty. Understanding the vital role of water and fluids can provide the motivation we need to remain hydrated – and healthy.

Water and Your Heart
Think about it. Your blood is like water. The more hydrated you are, the better your heart can help pump blood through the blood vessels to all of your organs and muscles. Hydration means that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to do its job.

Water and Your Brain
Your brain needs fluid to keep you thinking clearly. Even a 1 to 2 percent body water loss can negatively affect cognitive function such as memory, critical thinking and attentiveness. Lack of water can also increase anxiety and moodiness.

Water and Your Joints
Drinking plenty of water can help fight joint inflammation by flushing out toxins. And, well-lubricated joints are less likely to get attacks of gout. If extra pounds are putting pressure on your joints, consider that drinking a glass of water before a meal can fill you up so that you don’t eat as much. Water can be a helpful weight loss strategy.

How Much Water is Enough?
The standard ‘8 ounces, 8 times a day’ is only a general recommendation. Other factors increase your need for water, such as being outside in the heat, exercising, certain medications or when you’re ill, such as with fever or vomiting. One way to know if you’re getting enough water is the color of your urine. If it’s pale yellow, you are probably getting enough water. Darker yellow indicates that you may need more fluids.

Tips for Getting Plenty of Fluids
You don’t have to sit down and drink glass after glass of water. And, as we age, there can be a tendency to be less thirsty, but we still need the same amount of fluids. Here are seven ways to ensure that your body gets the fluid you need:
  1. Take a travel bottle of water with you when you get in the car to run errands.
  2. Keep a glass of water available for drinking throughout the day at work or school.
  3. Ask for water when eating out – and drink it. Add a slice of lemon or lime if that makes it more appealing for you.
  4. Drink the entire glass of water when taking a pill or vitamins.
  5. Drink water before and after exercise or going for a walk, especially if it’s hot outside.
  6. Consume water earlier in the day rather than at night to avoid many trips to the bathroom.
  7. Remember that fruits and vegetables are a good source of water (and vitamins).

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