Water is vital for the proper function of virtually every cell, tissue, and organ in the body. It helps regulate body temperature, acts as a “shock absorber” for the brain and spinal cord, and it lubricates joints, organs, and tissues. One of its most essential roles is aiding in proper digestion and delivery of nutrients to your cells.
If more people really thought about how much their digestive systems do for them every day, they might be more inclined to take better care of their digestive health. Your digestive system has a huge job: it breaks down the foods that you eat in order to make nutrients and energy available to the body, and it is responsible for steering unwanted waste out of the body, too, all of which requires adequate hydration.
As the weather warms up, we tend to find ourselves drinking more mineral water which– in addition to staying active and eating plenty of fiber-rich plant foods – is key to healthy digestion. We’d want to have a functioning air conditioning system to keep ourselves cool in the summer. But we still may not be drinking enough. By the time your thirst mechanism kicks in, you’re already fairly dehydrated, so it’s important to stay on top of your fluid intake during the day. It’s also critical to make sure infants and small children get enough fluids as well, since it’s been estimated that half of the nation’s children are under-hydrated.
We all know we should drink water, but we don’t always set ourselves up for success. Registered dietitian, Susan Bowerman, shares five ways to prioritize your hydration:
- Start your day with a beverage. Set out some water next to your bed at night and drink it as soon as you wake up – you’ll create a good habit that can last a lifetime.
- Hydrate throughout your workouts. Regular exercise also supports digestive health in a couple of ways. As your muscles contract and your breath deepens during activity, the natural contractions of your intestinal muscles are stimulated, too, which helps to move food through your system. Ensure you’re properly hydrating before, during and after trainings to help support the process.
- Drink more than you think. While your age, size, gender, and physical activity level will help determine your specific water needs, as a general rule, according to the Institutes of Medicine, the recommended daily fluid intake is about 11 cups for adult women and 15 cups for men. That sounds like a lot, but not all of it needs to come from beverages alone. About 70-80% should be provided by beverages – and at least half of that from water, with lesser contributions from tea, coffee, milk, and other beverages. The remaining 20-30% should come from watery foods such as fruits and vegetables.
- Try Aloe Beverages. Aloe is also popularly promoted as a tonic for the digestive system, since it helps to support nutrient absorption and overall digestive health. And it adds a nice flavor to water, which may encourage you to drink more.
- Make it interesting: add in citrus, herbs, fruit or a splash of juice to amp up the taste; go for a bubbly, unsweetened option; have sometea with lemon; keep a pitcher in the fridge for a nice icy blast on a warm day.
Whatever way you choose to stay hydrated, even a little bit more water on a daily basis can make a big difference.
For more tips from Susan Bowerman, visit www.IAMHerbalife.com.