Improve your hydration to improve your health!
Here are some simple ways you and your family can optimize their hydration habits.
1. Drink water-rich foods.
Don’t like to drink plain water? No problem. Many foods, such as juice, soups, fruits, vegetables, and milk are 80 to 90 percent water. While it’s healthier to get in the habit of drinking a lot of plain water to improve your hydration (and model this wet taste for your children), if you absolutely must have some sweet-tasting water, try: water-logged fruits, such as, you guessed it, watermelon, 100% real fruit popsicles, fruit-rich smoothies, and plain water flavored with fresh fruit.
2. Watch out for water robbers.
Shun caffeine-containing coffee, teas, and colas, along with alcoholic beverages, as these have a diuretic effect, causing your body to eliminate more water. This precaution is especially important if your hydration is already marginal, such as while you are exercising or if you are sick. Sugared drinks can also rob you of water, since sugar may lessen the absorption of water from the intestines. Drinking large amounts of juices that are high in sorbitol (such as prune and pear juice) or even overdosing on apple juice can produce diarrhea-like stools and increase water loss from the intestines.
3. Find fluid companions.
Get in the habit of taking along a bottle of water when you ride your bike, drive in the car, and especially when you go on outings with active, thirsty toddlers. When water is close at hand in your purse, diaper bag, or front seat, you’re likely to drink more of it and is a simple habit that will help improve your hydration. Keep a glass of water or water bottle on the nightstand next to your bed and imbibe as soon as you get up.
4. Provide “plane” water.
While traveling in airplanes, you may notice that your nose and mouth become dry and your breathing harder. Next you notice you are feeling tired and thinking less clearly. What is happening is that you are getting dehydrated. The dry cabin air has only around seven percent humidity, which dries out your breathing passages and sucks water out of your body as it tries to moisturize them. As a frequent flier, I fill up with at least two glasses of water around 1/2 hour before boarding the plane. I tote along some bottled water in my carry-on bag and bring a squirt bottle of saltwater (available over-the-counter at pharmacies as saline nasal spray, but you can make your own) so that I can spritz a few drops in my nose every hour. I order double fluid drinks, such as water and 100% juice, and periodically order a cup of hot water to treat my dried-out nose with a little steam bath. Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks while flying since as diuretics they contribute to dehydration. Sure, water-logging your body during plane travel stimulates frequent treks to the bathroom, but even these trips down the aisle are good for your body.
5. Watch out for water diets.
Beware of crash diets and – their often unhealthy — claims that you can lose a lot of weight fast. Especially suspicious are the “high-something” diets, such as high carb, high protein, high grapefruit, etc., which tend to not only be nutritionally unbalanced, but can be downright dangerous. These diets often cause you to lose a lot of water. Yes, you may weigh less, but it’s usually temporary. You don’t lose fat, which is your real goal. Essentially what happens is you urinate out the weight rather than burn off the fat, and soon your body decides it wants that water back.
6. Try waterless meals.
It’s best not to consume too much fluid with meals. The body normally produces its own fluids to help digest food, beginning with saliva in the mouth and digestive juices in the stomach and small intestine. Drinking too much fluid with a meal can dilute these natural digestive juices, contributing to indigestion. Better to drink most of your fluids between meals. An exception to this is alcoholic beverages, such as wine, which are best consumed with food, since the food in the stomach and intestines slows the absorption of alcohol, minimizing blood sugar swings and reducing the risk of intoxication. If you like water with meals, it’s best to drink a little room-temperature water, since ice water slows digestion.
7. Try water a bit before breakfast.
Beginning your day with several glasses of water rehydrates you after the night and helps your body begin the day in better biochemical balance.
JUNK FLUIDS TO AVOID
Sure, fruit drinks are cheaper than 100% pure juices when it’s your turn to furnish snacks for the soccer team. The supermarket shelves are running over with colored sugar water, sold in the guise of “fruit drinks.” These are little more than high-priced water with corn syrup and a touch of juice for color and flavor. Many of these drinks or punches contain chemical colors that have never been proven safe. Moreover, they foster unhealthy drinking habits in children, who become so accustomed to the sweet taste of fluids that they refuse to drink plain water.
8. Love that lemon-ade.
If your tapwater takes on a chlorine taste, adding a squirt of lemon juice to each glass of water can make it more palatable.
9. Forget fizzy water.
Carbonated water does nothing more for your body than make you belch. In fact, the gas from carbonation makes you feel fuller sooner, so you drink less. If you enjoy the fizz, add a little seltzer to plain water.
10. Try water for weight loss.
Can you drink more and weigh less? Yes, thanks to a biological quirk that is friendly to fat reducers. Your body is a natural water heater. When you drink water, which is nearly always a lower temperature than your body, the body expends energy (and therefore calories) to bring the water up to its own temperature. So you’re not only drinking a non-caloric beverage, you’re burning calories! That’s a darn good drinking deal. Your body can burn around 100 calories a day using energy to heat a gallon of cool water that you drink. That translates into nearly a pound of fat loss in a month. Beware of any weight loss programs that advise drinking less water. Water contributes to health by helping the kidneys flush toxins out of the body. When the kidneys are working optimally, other organs of the body, especially the liver, are more in balance.
“WATERING” YOUR GROWING CHILD
Teach your children to acquire a taste for water, the most vital drink of all! Water is essential to good nutrition! Since our bodies are more than 50 percent water, we need to continually replenish our fluids. Hidden sources of water include milk or fruit juice, soups and stews, fruits, and vegetables. Have cool water readily-available for your child throughout the day. Keeping it in a pitcher in the refrigerator makes it seem more special, as does an attractive cup or glass and maybe some ice cubes or a twist of lemon peel. Don’t forget to offer water often during the day, especially in warmer temperatures. If a child is well hydrated, he or she is more likely to have a good appetite.