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FOOD & NUTRITION BLOG
Thanks to some creative minds in the public health sector, catchy slogans like, “I <3 Tap Water” from UC Berkeley, “Take Back the Tap,” and “Think Outside the Bottle” are common phrases used to describe the movement toward tap water and reusable water bottles over wasteful bottled water.
The movement toward reusable water bottles is seen even on this campus! If you’ve refilled your water at any of the newly installed hydration stations, you’ve done your part to protect the environment and hydrate yourself! It’s a win win.
Despite the popularity of this new health trend, many others are still reaching for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) over water. SSB are drinks like iced tea, soda, energy drinks like Red Bull, and juice. SSB are seen to have a strong association with childhood obesity and overweight/obesity in general- run a Pubmed search and you will see hundreds of scholarly articles on this topic. SSB in conjunction with a poor diet and lack of physical activity are a deadly combination leading to chronic diseases like Type II diabetes and multiple cardiovascular diseases.
The most common excuse I’ve heard proponents of SSB complain about is that water tastes bland- if there is no flavor, they just don’t want to drink it. However, SSBs, although they do provide a small amount of water, are just not a suitable substitute for plain water. SSB often times contain more sugar and calories than water and cannot properly hydrate you the way water can. Water, no matter how bland, is necessary for life. We would die in a few days if we didn’t have water!
So, how do we prevent dehydration and drink more water? First, let’s look at signs your body is telling you if you’re dehydrated.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, signs of dehydration include the following:
An easy way to tell if you’re dehydrated is to run a bowl test. Check your urine after you’ve gone to the bathroom. If the color of your urine is clear, pale, or straw-colored, you’re properly hydrated. If your urine is darker than this, you need to start drinking more water pronto!
The best way to beat dehydration is to drink before you get thirsty. If you wait until after you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated.
So, exactly how much water do you need to drink per day? Over the past few years, experts recommended drinking 6-8, 8 oz glasses of water per day. Thus, the “8x8” hydration rule was born. Although it’s catchy and easy to remember, hydration per individual cannot fit within this overly simplified rule.
According to WebMD, hydration status is dependent on your size, weight, level of physical activity, and where you live. For example, a high performance athlete living in Arizona will undoubtedly drink more water than a sedentary adult living in a colder environment. A good rule of thumb is the multiply your weight by a ½ oz to 1 oz to get the amount of water you should be drinking per day.
Let’s say you weigh 150 lbs: if we use the simple formula above, this comes out to be around 75-150 fl oz of water per day, without adjusting for physical activity, area of residency, and other confounding factors.
Remember, that you also can get water from food such as soups, broths, or juicy fruits and veggies; however, don’t depend on these foods to maintain adequate hydration.
With that said, here are 5 quick ways you can increase your water consumption:
1. Invest in a reusable water bottle (you can get ones that are insulated too so that it keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold)
2. Get a water bottle with an infuser: have you ever seen water that has fruit pieces in it? Putting fruit in water is not only healthy but it’s also delicious and adds some flavor for those who hate drinking bland water
3. Keep your water bottle at your desk so that you can drink all day and near your bed so you can drink when you first wake up in the morning
4. Spread out your drinking throughout the day; it’s not really that feasible or healthy to drink all you need at one time!
5. Switch out one normal glass of juice, coffee, or other beverage for water
For more information on hydration, the benefits of water for your body, and lots more, check out the links below:
Water, Hydration, and Health from PubMed
A more in depth analysis of water on health
Water and Your Diet from WebMD
Avoiding Dehydration by the Cleveland Clinic
Meeting Daily Fluid Intakes by the CDC