The Rules of Water

About 60% of you is water. Think about that: Of your entire body, with all its muscles and tissues and organs and machinery that keeps you functioning and, well, alive — 60% of all of you is water. 

Water builds cells. It transports nutrients and waste through our internal systems. It helps manage body temperature. 

When it comes to our bodies, water rules.

We need water — and we often don't take in enough of it. How much water we should drink every day depends on a lot of factors: activity level, temperature, age and gender, whether we're trying to lose weight. It stands to reason that if you're working in the garden on a hot day and sweating buckets, you should be constantly rehydrating. 

We often hear a rule of thumb that we need to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day (64 ounces total). A study by the National Academy of Sciences recommends that women consume about 90 ounces per day of water and men 125 ounces per day from all beverages and food — and it notes that about 20% of that intake typically comes from food. 

It's safe to assume that most of us just aren't drinking enough water. Here are some things to know about how — and why — you can increase your intake of good ol' H20. 

 

Dehydration often manifests as hunger.

When your tummy growls, it may signal a lack of water rather than a lack of food. If you feel that mid-morning or -afternoon grumble, reach for a bottle of water first. 

Water can get your body off to a good start. A recent headline in USA Today caught my eye: Why You Should Drink Water First Thing Every Day. While the science is inconclusive, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that biologically it does make sense to drink two glasses of water in the morning on an empty stomach. If nothing else, it rehydrates the body after a night of sleep.

 

Hydrating can sharpen your mental focus.

 You know that feeling you get when you can't concentrate and it seems like your brain is in a fog — that's often a sign of dehydration. Drinking plenty of water all day powers your mind.

So you just don't like the taste of water? There are all kinds of ways to increase your water intake. Here are things to try:

  • Fizzy water — naturally carbonated water gives a pleasant mouthfeel
  • Fizzy flavored waters — I'll admit it: I totally love LaCroix fruit-flavored water. It's my soda. It's sugar-free and naturally flavored. Target's Simply Balanced house brand flavored waters are also great. Find a brand you enjoy — just make sure it's free of sugar and sugar substitutes, and is naturally flavored. Reach for one of these instead of a can of diet soda.
  • Water "enhancers" — These come in liquid and powdered form, and often contain artificial sweeteners, flavors and preservatives. Be label-smart: Read the ingredients panel to understand what you're getting.
  • Water + juice — Adding a splash of orange juice to a full tumbler of water gives it just enough flavor to make it appealing. Just watch those calories!
  • DIY flavored waters — The easiest, cheapest, most natural way to flavor up your water is to add tasty things to a pitcher and keep it in the fridge. Look for a pitcher with an infuser — they're inexpensive, and you can fill the central perforated tube with sliced fruit and herbs to infuse into your water. Some great flavor combos:
    • Cucumber + mint
    • Lime + strawberry
    • Lemon + orange
    • Strawberry + basil

There are plenty of waters available on store shelves: bottled, canned, fizzy, still, flavored, plain, imported, spring-sourced, expensive, cheap. There are filter pitchers and bottles. There's tap water and a glass. Whatever you choose, make sure you're taking in enough H20. Your body needs it.

 

It's especially important to stay hydrated when being active when it's hot out. We have some tips to help this summer!

Bryn Mooth is the author of the Findlay Market Cookbook, the editor of Edible Ohio Valley  magazine, and she also publishes a website called writes4food.com. She loves cooking tasty and uncomplicated dishes, cultivating a small vegetable garden and shopping at the Tristate area's many local farmers markets. Saturday mornings, you'll find Bryn at Findlay Market bright and early, doing much of her grocery shopping for the week. She's pleased to be partnering with Healthspirations to share her recipes, how-tos and information about eating healthfully in Cincinnati!