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Hydration for health

sparkling water

Q: Do I really need to drink eight glasses of water each day?

Water is so important that our bodies require more water than any other single nutrient. In fact, we actually need nine to 13 cups of water per day (depending on our body weight); the eight cups per day recommendation assumes that you are getting at least two to three cups of water daily from fruits, vegetables, soups, etc.

We all learned in grade school that the human body is two-thirds water, and without water, we would die of dehydration in a couple of days. This is all still true and hopefully by now we also know hydration is critical for flushing toxins from our bodies and carrying nutrients to our cells. Newer research suggests that dehydration even contributes to moodiness and impaired cognitive function. But don't rely on your "thirst" as your only reminder that it's time to take a sip. By the time you feel "thirsty," your body is already two percent dehydrated.

In the summertime, when we sweat a little bit more, hydration becomes even more important. Electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, sodium) are lost through sweat and therefore need to be replenished. Under normal circumstances, we get adequate electrolytes from normal dietary variety; it is only under extreme physical activity (greater than 90 minutes) that we need to "supplement" with these electrolytes. Coconut water is a great way to rehydrate under these more extreme circumstances; I call coconut water Nature's Sports Drink — because it contains natural sugars and electrolytes, similar to sports drinks, such as Vitamin Water. Bananas, avocados, papayas, apricots and figs are all great sources of potassium.

Fruit and vegetable juices, teas, milk, coconut water and kombucha all count toward your eight glasses of "water" each day. Keep in mind that most of these beverages also provide calories, while water is always calorie free. Whole fruits and vegetables count too, especially fruits, such as watermelon and grapes, which contain more than 90 percent water — counting toward both your daily water requirement and your five cups per day of fresh produce that you are supposed to be eating. So the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the less water you need to "drink."

Nick’s hydration tips

Water is the best way to stay hydrated but if you have a hard time drinking eight glasses a day, here are a few tips to make water more appealing.

by Nick Rose, M.S., PCC Nutrition Educator

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