Drinking for Health

To keep your body well hydrated, consume enough water. Follow your thirst, and drink beverages with meals. Because milk, juice, and some other beverages are mostly water, they count toward your daily water intake. So does water from solid foods, although you can't really measure it. On average, moisture in food provides about 20 percent of your water intake. Surprised?

Caffeinated beverages—coffee, tea, and some soft drinks—contribute to your day's total water intake, as noncaffeinated drinks do. While a high intake of caffeine may have a diuretic effect, the effect likely won't last long. Diuretic effect means water loss through increased urination. Any diuretic effect from alcoholic drinks appears to be short term, too; the effect may change during the day and may depend on how much water you drink before meals.

To increase your water intake . . .

  • Take water breaks during the day instead of coffee breaks. If you're a subconscious "sipper," keep a cup of water on your desk.
  • When you buy a vending machine or convenience store drink, reach for bottled water.
  • quot;Water down" your meals and snacks. Complement food with more water, milk, or juice. Occasionally, start your meals with soup.
  • When you walk by a water fountain, drink!
  • Refresh yourself at snack time with juice, milk, or sparkling water.
  • Drink sparkling water at social gatherings.
  • Before, during, and after any physical activity, drink water, especially in hot weather. Consume 1/2 to 2 cups of water every fifteen to twenty minutes while you exercise. Don't wait until you feel thirsty!

For more on fluids during exercise, see chapter 19.

• Keep a bottle of water with you as you commute, while you work, as you run errands. Travel with a supply of bottled water, too, even for day outings. Airline travel promotes dehydration. For tips on drinking fluids inflight, see page 364.

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