Are you drinking enough water?
Water keeps you hydrated, your body functioning and can even help with weight loss
Is one of your goals for 2019 to live a healthier lifestyle? One way you can reach that goal is as simple as drinking more water.
“Water is very important for a healthy, balanced diet,” says Bentley Danello, RD, LD, education specialist in disease management and registered dietitian at St. Joseph’s/Candler. “Staying hydrated is important for mental function, for our kidney function. It’s really important for everyone to get enough water, especially in Savannah when it’s so hot outside.”
Water is one of the body’s essential nutrients and is the cornerstone for all bodily functions. It is the most abundant substance in the body, averaging 60 percent of body weight. Water:
- Keeps the body temperature normal
- Transports nutrients and oxygen to cells
- Carries waste products away
- Maintains blood volume
- Helps lubricate joints and body tissues such as the mouth, eyes and nose
- Protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
You’ve probably heard you need to drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day. That’s generally a good rule of thumb, but you may want to talk to your doctor or a dietitian because some people may need more than 64 ounces a day.
“Eight glasses a day is a good gauge, but it is also a rough gauge,” says Dr. Joenie Almeida, primary care physician with St. Joseph’s/Candler Primary Care located on Eisenhower. “The body has a thirst mechanism that can tell you if you need water or not. If you’re thirsty, your body needs more fluids.”
Not getting enough water can lead to dehydration. Without enough fluid, your body cannot function properly.
There are a variety of factors involved in how much water a person needs to stay hydrated, Dr. Almeida says. High heat and humidity can cause a person to become dehydrated more quickly. Strenuous activity and exercise also will cause the body to lose water faster. Age is another factor.
“The elderly and the very young tend to get dehydrated more quickly,” Dr. Almeida says. “The thirst mechanism is not as well developed in younger children, and older people may have other health conditions that require more fluids throughout the day.”
If you are trying to lose weight, water can certainly help. By staying hydrated, you feel better and when you feel better you are more likely to exercise, Danello says. Dehydration can leave people feeling sluggish and cause headaches.
Water also can be a great substitute for sugary beverages and snacks.
“A lot of times you can confuse hunger with thirst,” Danello says. “It’s good to stop and ask yourself, ‘Have I drunk enough water today?’ Drinking water can help you feel full and eliminate some of your cravings.”
Choosing water over sugary sodas, teas and coffees can dramatically decrease your daily calorie intake. Danello says when she meets with clients that are in the beginning stages of weight loss, she stresses the importance of drinking enough water.
“As far as weight loss is concerned, a lot of people don’t realize how many calories they are consuming through their beverages. An easy transition is to try to eliminate your sugar-sweetened beverages and calorie-containing beverages from your diet and just focus on water,” Danello says. “I’ve had people that have lost weight just by switching to water. One patient lost five pounds just in one week by switching to water because she was drinking soda all day. It really does make a big difference.”
Ways to drink more water
If you don’t think you are getting enough water or want to incorporate more water into your diet, try these tips:
- Carry a water bottle with you for easy access wherever you go
- Add fruit to your water such as lemons or limes, or even cucumbers. This can improve the taste and help you drink more water than you normally do.
- Try sparkling or flavored waters, just pay attention to the amount of calories
- Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This also can help with weight management.
- Have a glass of water with every meal, even when you are eating out. This can help you reduce calories and save money.