When is the last time you drank some water? While on that subject, how much water do you drink? Your body needs 8 cups or more of water each day. I am writing this column because of some questions that arose when presenting programs and some inquiries from readers of this column.

The foods you eat provide about 20 percent of your daily water intake and the rest comes from water and other beverages such as low fat milk, coffee, tea, 100 percent fruit juice, pop/soda, and adult beverages. Water makes up 60 percent of your body weight and plays a vital role in the functioning of your body. Every system in your body depends on water. The body needs water to regulate temperature, keep tissues moist, lubricate joints, flush out waste, carry nutrients to cells, and protect your organs.

In the summer when it is hot and humid, you will need to increase the amount of fluid you take in especially if you are engaging in more physical activity. If you are physically active for more than 90 minutes, it is a good idea to choose a sport drink over water. The sport drink will hydrate your body while replacing electrolytes lost through sweat.

Work at getting in the habit of planning to keep your body hydrated. Plan to drink water when you wake up, before a meal, with a meal, and throughout the day. Plan to carry water with you wherever you go. If you are disciplined and work out, drink water before, during, and after exercising. Keep yourself hydrated by carrying a reusable water bottle with tap water. Tap water contains essential nutrients that are often filtered out of bottled water. Municipal water supplies also have added fluoride that helps prevent dental cavities. Depending on the brand of water you buy and where you buy bottled water, the cost can add up. For the price of one bottle of water, you can get up to 1,000 gallons of tap water. Keep in mind that bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic a year.

To provide your body water, drink it any way you like. Some ways to increase your water intake are to top it with lemon, brew a cup of tea, add pineapple, or drop in some cucumber slices. You can also add some blueberries or carbonation, squeeze in some orange juice, or add a splash of watermelon or cranberry juice. There is also flavoring like root beer, watermelon, sugar free fruit flavorings, and flavored liquid stevia that you can add to water.

I encourage you to drink water throughout the day rather than all at once. Drink more water when you exercise and especially when the weather is hot. Some of your daily requirement for water can come from other beverages and food. The bottom line for most of us is we don’t drink enough water and need to work on this healthy habit.

For a flavored water this time of the year, try making strawberry lavender water (or at least the strawberry). Combine 2 quarts of water, 1 cup of sliced fresh strawberries, and 3 fresh lavender leaves or 1 tsp dried culinary lavender (optional). Cover and refrigerate for 12 – 24 hours. From my experience, do not over-do the lavender as the flavor can take over.

Remember that water is a good choice because it plays a vital role in your body, is calorie free, inexpensive, and readily available.

Mary Ann Lienhart Cross is extension educator, Health and Human Sciences, Purdue Extension Elkhart County. She can be reached at 574-533-0554 or lienhart@purdue.edu.

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