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 10 Tips on Staying Healthy with Water 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Staying Healthy Tips by . View all columns in series

1. Proper hydration with water is essential. Most of us need at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of good, clean drinking water daily. Coffee, alcohol, and sodas or other sugary beverages do not count toward our daily two quarts of liquids as they do not hydrate our tissues and often have the opposite effect, causing dehydration. Water is the best choice for proper hydration. However, herbal teas and fresh juices do count because of their high water content; furthermore, fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet do add to our water intake. Water is second in importance to air, which we need by the minute. We can survive about a week without water, whereas most of us can live as long as six weeks without food. Water supports our immune system and flushes toxins from the lymph system and body. Our bodies are about 70% water—10 to 12 gallons! In fact, brain and muscle are about 75% water and blood is 85% water content. Except for bone and fat tissue, most of our body is water.

2. Finding the right water balance for each of us is also important. This is based on our body size, level of physical activity, exercise and sweating, the local climate, and our diet. A diet that is dry and high in proteins and fats creates a need for even more water to flush these foods healthfully through our system. The average American drinks only 4.6 servings/cups of water a day, or 36 ounces. That’s a bit shy, especially when most of us do not consume our share of fresh fruits and veggies. Water drinking should be a habit, something we do without having to think about it. Only one third of Americans claim they drink eight glasses of water a day; 28% have three or fewer servings, and nearly 10% say they don't drink water at all. The most frequent reason given by Americans for not drinking water is lack of time, as reported by 21% in a recent survey. Like anything, preparation saves time and allows us to engage in these healthier habits. Prioritize water hydration. And during hot weather, drink 2 to 3 glasses more than usual. When we have a cold, or for many illnesses and symptoms, like headaches and allergies, it is helpful to hydrate the body fully with water and herbal teas. We can know this by our urinary output, generally every couple hours during the day.

3. EXERCISE—every month I tell you to move your body! Create a consistent and sometimes challenging program. It’s so important to your health. And remember that when you exercise regularly and sweat, you need more fluid replacement. Drink before (2 cups 1-2 hours before) and after your workout (1-2 cups), and during exercise if it’s appropriate. Drink cool temperature water, and don’t depend on thirst to tell you; drink anyway! Take your walks, go on hikes, ride a bike, and work out with weights at home or at a gym. Even try something new, like a yoga class. Stretch out your body and stay flexible and youthful. Before and during exercise, drink fluids and particularly water, to reduce body temperature, moderate cardiovascular stress and improve performance. After a strenuous workout, it's important to replace the fluids you've lost.

As Jack LaLanne says in his recent Share Guide (May/June 2002) interview, "Exercise is king, Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you have a healthy kingdom." (A less patriarchal word for what men and women share could be a "sharedom" or "equi-dom," or make one up you like.)

4. Good, clean water is not a given. Most city waters, and even wells, are suspect for contamination with microbes and chemicals. I believe it is wise to invest in an appropriate filtration system since water is such an important component of our body. The best is a Reverse Osmosis unit or a Solid Carbon block type filter; what’s most effective for your home use depends on what your water concerns are and how much water you need. (See references in the Safe Water Tips at the end of this newsletter.) Many people also buy bottled water from natural springs, or water bottled after filtration. If you use a consistent brand, check it out by calling the company and asking for a report. You may also want to look into an alkaline water unit. There is interesting research on drinking water that is more alkaline or that contains added bicarbonates (and may include calcium and magnesium salts), and on this water’s balancing, healing effects.

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 About The Author
Elson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...moreElson Haas MD
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