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Family First - Drink More Water

Water – we can’t live without it, and more than half of our bodies are made up of it.

Denise Coots, a registered dietician at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Jefferson City, said that’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re drinking enough water each and every day.

She said the exact amount of water can vary greatly from person to person. “There’s a number of factors when it comes to water intake needs. Personal height, weight, exercise, and location can all play a part,” Dr. Coots said. “There’s not some magic formula, like eight eight-ounce glasses or anything like that.”

While the amount of water each person needs might not be an exact science, Coots said the consequences of not listening to what your body needs when it comes to hydration can be dangerous.

“At first, the symptoms of not drinking enough water can be minimal, like dry skin, a headache, or darker colored urine,” she said. “But in the end, all of your organs need water to function, and if you’re not staying hydrated, you can really hurt yourself.”

Coots said she often sees remembering to drink water as the biggest challenge in the fight to stay hydrated.

“It’s easy to forget to drink as much water as you need,” Coots said. “Many of the beverages we drink on a daily basis have caffeine or sugar, whether it’s coffee, energy drinks, soda, or even juice.”

She said some drinks can actually make you feel thirstier and more dehydrated. “That’s why I suggest alternating a water with every other beverage you drink,” Coots said. “That way, you’re always keeping up with your hydration.”

Coots said it’s not unusual for some people to not enjoy drinking water. “We can get used to drinking things that are a little more fun than water sometimes,” she said. “For some, it’s a matter of creating a healthy habit, simply remembering to hydrate more. But for others, it can mean breaking bad habits.”

She said drinking mostly non-water-based beverages is a habit worth breaking – because many of those drinks can come with a high calorie count. “If you have orange juice at breakfast, a coke at lunch, and then a sweet tea on the drive home, you can be drinking hundreds of calories without even realizing it,” she said.

Coots suggested these tips for making sure you drink enough water every day:

  • Stow water bottles at convenient places so you’re never without – in your car, on your desk, by your bedside, etc.
  • Try adding fruit like lemons, mangos, and berries to make your water a little more interesting if you don’t like the plain flavor
  • Make staying hydrated a habit throughout the day by connecting drinking water to a frequent task like picking up the phone.
  • Give ice cubes a new twist – try freezing orange or apple slices to cool your water instead of the traditional cubes.

Thanks for joining Family First this January for Nutrition Month. Join us next month for a new Family First theme – we’ll share advice from SSM Health physicians on Heart Health every week in February.

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