Nutrition for you: Water

Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle includes eating and drinking healthy, nutritious foods every day.

Eating nutritious foods helps to strengthen your immune system and keeps your body working at its’ peak performance. To achieve this healthy lifestyle, a variety of nutrients need to be consumed. One of these nutrients is water.

How does water help you? The human body is made up of about 60 percent water. We need water to keep the circulation system healthy, for digestion starting with the saliva in our mouth, for the transportation of nutrients, for tear production, for fluids bathing our joints. Now think of the many ways we lose water every day: sweat, tears, urine and other digestive products, and blood. When these fluid levels drop in our bodies, the brain sends a message to signal our thirst center. Hopefully, we’re paying attention to this signal and drink water or water based beverages and foods to increase our fluid level.

Some people need to pay closer attention to their intake of water and fluids than others do. This would include older adults, people with chronic disease and pregnant or breast-feeding women. If you have diabetes, it’s especially important to drink water or eat foods high in water every day. When blood glucose levels run high, the skin of a person with diabetes may dry out and is then more prone to developing cracks where infection can set in. Keeping the body hydrated is one protective measure a person with diabetes can take. Adults with other chronic diseases also need to watch their fluid intake. Dehydration can result from the intake of some medications. And for some chronic conditions, fluid intake needs to be carefully monitored.

Older adults often become dehydrated because the thirst signal doesn’t register that they need to drink. Keeping a bottle or glass of water close at hand and taking frequent sips will help. Setting a timer to remind you to take a drink of water could also be handy.

What else can you do to increase your water intake? Many foods, especially fruits and vegetables, contain anywhere from 70 percent to 90 percent water. Eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruits every day, drinking beverages such as coffee, tea and milk and eating foods such as soups and broths that are mostly water based will also help keep your fluid level high.

For a healthy lifestyle ask yourself, “Have I had a drink of water today?”

For more information about healthy lifestyles including nutrition and physical activity, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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