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Healthy Living: Staying hydrated

If you grew up hearing you needed to drink 6-8 glasses of water every day to stay healthy, you may have been surprised to hear recent news reports that this advice might be,  well, all wet.

Several studies over the last several years, including a widely reported report from a British medical journal this summer, have come up with new recommendations. The gist of it: There’s no magic number when it comes to water. You just need to drink enough liquids to avoid being thirsty.

That said – in a broiling hot summer like we’ve been enduring this year, it’s good advice to make sure you’re ingesting enough cool, clear water, to make up for what you naturally lose during the day.  This is especially important if you work outdoors;  exercise outside (even in the morning or evening); if you are pregnant or nursing; or if you are taking medications that lead to dehydration.

Beverages such as tea, coffee, milk or juice can make up part of your daily beverage allotment. But plain water is still the best, because it doesn’t add fat, sugar or calories to your daily diet.

If you don’t particularly like the taste of water, or you just forget to make yourself drink, here are simple ways to keep up your water intake.

  • Keep a water bottle at your desk, in your car, and in your gym bag, so you’re not tempted to always down a soft drink when thirst strikes.
  • Try sparkling water (with no sugar or sodium added) instead of plain tap or bottled water. Look for plain sparkling water, or those that have the added flavor of lime, grapefruit, lemon or other citrus flavors, without added sugar.
  • Add lemon or lime slices for a splash of flavor with no calories. You can also add a few slices of cucumber, or even a couple of sprigs of fresh mint.
  • Eat foods with high water content, like watermelon, cucumber, lettuce and grapefruit. Each of these foods are more than 90 percent water.
  • Try one of the powdered mixes that can be added to a bottle of water  for an instant, refreshing fruit-flavored beverage. Just be careful if you’re watching your weight; some of these do contain added sugar and calories.
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