The importance of staying well hydrated

July 21, 2015

We’ve all heard about drinking 64 ounces of water a day, right? But how many of us actually drink water, rather than reaching for coffee, soda, juice, milk, or tea?


While the “eight glasses a day” rule is just a guideline (possibly an outdated one), all the cells in our bodies need water. Drinking plain water means less excess sodium, potassium, and phosphorus for our kidneys to filter out.


Beverages like juice and tea can be good for you, but water contains no sugar or caffeine. Drinking plenty of water keeps your joints lubricated, improves muscle and skin condition, and helps your body eliminate waste through urine, sweat, and bowel movements.


Dehydration occurs when you’re losing more bodily fluids than you’re taking in. Some signs you may be dehydrated are increased thirst, dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, decrease in sweat or urine output, or urine that is dark yellow or amber in color.


We eat about 20 percent of our fluid intake through soups, yogurts, smoothies, fruits, and vegetables. Watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple are 90 percent water.


If you don’t have the best tap water, there are many low-cost filtration products. Most are not certified to filter out lead, pesticide or pharmaceutical residues, viruses or bacteria, but can filter out some metals, like mercury, copper, or cadmium. Just keep your filter very clean or you could end up adding bacteria to your drinking water.


My hubby’s main complaint is that water is boring or there’s no fizz. I have an answer for that: Add lemon. I’ve been drinking lemon water since long before flavored water was conveniently available in a bottle. I make my own, with about the juice of one lemon per day.


Lemon water has lots of vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The key is not leaving the rind in your glass, which makes the water or tea taste bitter. Just slice off a thick wedge and squeeze the juice of about 1/3 of a small lemon into a 12-ounce glass of water.  

 


Zesty Mint Lemonade

 
-8 c. water
-1 t. grated ginger
-1 medium cucumber, sliced thin
-1 to 2 lemons, sliced thin or just use the juice
-12 mint leaves

Wash the skins of the cucumber and lemon or remove them completely. Slice and add all ingredients to your pitcher. Refrigerate overnight, strain, and drink. I find small lemons have more juice than the large ones, which are mostly rind.


Muddle the mint before you add water to the pitcher. Muddling does not mean smashing the leaves to oblivion. It means gently pressing them to release the oils and flavor, so go easy on them.


Berry water is also delicious. Try a combination of blackberry, lemon, and mint or blackberry, strawberry, and lemon. I really like blackberry, lime, mint, and ginger. Use a couple dozen berries and a whole sliced lemon or lime per pitcher. If you need it sweeter, use Stevia or honey. Avoid chemical sweeteners.


I also brew my own tea for pennies a glass. I used to go out and get a large ice tea every day at work, averaging about $1.75 a glass. At 20 workdays per month, that adds up to $35 a month, just on tea. Now I buy a box of 24 tea bags for $2 to $5. Each pitcher uses four tea bags for 32 ounces, or four eight-ounce servings, for 21 cents a glass. For that price, I can throw a whole lemon in the jug and still save $20 a month.


I like fruity green tea. Combine two green tea bags with two fruit tea bags (I suggest Tazo brand Passion tea), and a squeeze of lemon for a cheap, healthy, flavorful beverage that is great hot or cold.

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