Many of us have resolved to improve our health and our diet for the New Year. You’ve probably heard a lot about good cholesterol versus bad cholesterol, the importance of fiber, when to eat protein, and where to cut carbs and sugar. These are all important issues. I’m reminded though, that one of the single most valuable steps you can take towards improved health and diet is simply to drink more water! It sounds very basic, but it turns out that the vast majority of us are not drinking enough water, and we’re paying the price with mild to even severe health problems that we may be attributing to other causes.
The Cornell Medical Center has estimated that as many as 3 out of 4 Americans are chronically dehydrated. It turns out that even mild dehydration can lead to fatigue and loss of concentration. On-going dehydration can lead to joint and back pain, and the build-up of toxins in our body because water is critical for flushing toxins from vital organs. In addition, water carries nutrients to cells, and contributes to muscle health.
So, how much water is enough water? The Mayo Clinic cites research from The Institute of Medicine recommending that men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of water and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of water per day.
As a reminder, this water need not come from disposable plastic bottles. Keep a reusable bottle of tap water handy for frequent breaks. It’s cheaper than bottled water, it’s a more sustainable practice than plowing through endless plastic bottles, and it’s just as safe (some would say even safer, as it’s tested more frequently and regulated more stringently than bottled water). Once you get in the habit, you’ll find it second nature to keep a refillable bottle at your desk, in a briefcase or backpack for work or school, and in the fridge at home.
Drink up. I’ll raise my reusable bottle filled with tap water and simply say… cheers!