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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Water: America's Love-Hate Relationship

“I hate water."  No, not really.  In fact, I love water, but as a dietitian I hear this comment all the time.  Some people seem to drink nothing but soda or other beverages.  Is water really a big deal, and if so, how can become water-drinkers if we haven’t learned to tolerate, if not like, water?

How much is enough?
8-10 cups has been drilled into us for years, but that doesn’t really account for the major variability in hydration needs from one person to another.  For adults, one way to guesstimate how much water you need is to take you weight in pounds, then halve that number for the approximate ounces of water you need as a starting point.  Exercise and physical activity will increase your water requirement.  Remember that while fluid needs are met through all sorts of foods as well, nothing is as effective at hydrating as water.

Is drinking water as critical for youth?
In this country, one quarter of youth ages 6-19 don’t drink any water and approximately half of adolescents are mildly dehydrated.  Another downside to this issue is that those who drink less water, drink less milk, and eat less fruits and veggies, eat more fast food, drink more sweetened beverages and are more sedentary. 

So what can you do if you don’t like water?
The good news is that most tastes are changeable.  A taste for sweet, salty, or the lack thereof is largely acquired and so can the taste for water.  So more than anything, make an effort, and make an effort to teach your children to drink water.  But if you still struggle and would like to drink more water, then consider trying one of these options:
-       Add fruit.  A few slices of seasonal fruit or cucumber can alter the taste of plain water without adding unwanted sweeteners and calories.
-       Add herbs. A few crushed mint leaves, lemon grass, rosemary or basil can do the trick as well.
-       Ice it.  Whether plain ice cubes do the trick, or ice cubes with a few drops of lemon or other juice are needed, cold water is often more palatable than tepid water. 
-       Add bubbles.  A little sparkling water may be more to your liking, just avoid resorting to sweetened (caloric or non-caloric) sodas. 

And don’t underestimate the contribution of fruits and vegetables when it comes to staying hydrated.  With a combination of these tips, you’ll be able to stay healthfully hydrated regardless of whether you’re a water lover or not. 

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