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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Bari Levine

The Hype About Hydration

Why is water so important. We've all certainly heard that we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but we may not know why or if that's really the right amount. Staying hydrated is critical because our body needs water to perform all basic functions including breaking down food and distributing nutrients, eliminating waste and flushing out bacteria, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints and cognitive functioning. That's a lot of important things. Moreover, dehydration can lead to fatigue, lack of concentration and headaches. Maybe you've noticed these symptoms now that we're in the throws of a sweltering summer.

How much water do you need. Everyone is different, but the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend 3.7 liters (15.5 cups) for men and 2.7 liters (11.5 cups) of water from all food and beverages consumed throughout the day. On average, food accounts for 20% of our water intake, and the rest comes from beverages (including coffee!). That means 12 cups of liquids for men and 9 for women. But your individual needs may be more or less based on activity level, climate, medications and other factors.

How to increase your intake. "We manage what we monitor,"* so the first step to drinking more water may be as simple as knowing how much water you're drinking. This can be accomplished through apps, fancy water bottles or good old paper and pen. In addition, consider drinking water with activities you already do habitually such as taking medication, feeding a child or sitting down to dinner. This will help turn the decision to drink water into a semi-automatic habit. Lastly, if you just cannot get excited about water, try experimenting with adding fruit slices or switching to seltzer or iced tea. It does not have to be boring to be healthy, and you're more likely to stick with something if you can enjoy it!

*Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before

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