Water No. 1 beverage for good health | CraigDailyPress.com

Water No. 1 beverage for good health

Drinking water is especially important in dry climates and at high altitudes. Water helps to regulate your body temperature, lubricate joints, and rid the body of toxins and waste products.

— As spring winds kick up dust and warming temperatures hint at summer heat, it's important to remember one of the simplest health habits that keeps our bodies going: drink water.

Water makes up 60 to 70 percent of our body weight and is critical to the proper functioning of most of the body's internal systems.

"Water helps your body keep your temperature normal, lubricate and cushion joints, protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, (and) get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Northwest Coloradans dry out faster because of the drier climate and higher altitude, making regular hydration even more critical, said Arin Daigneau, registered dietician at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

"We lose water continuously without even knowing it through breathing and skin evaporation, as well as excreting it through urine and stool," Daigneau said. "It is especially important for people exercising in drier air to drink more water because they oftentimes don't realize they are perspiring because it evaporates quickly."

Dehydration can cause low energy, muscle weakness, dizziness, headache, dry mouth and dry skin, Daigneau said. Darker urine and constipation can also be indicators and side effects of dehydration.

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"Chronic dehydration can result in many medical problems due to the buildup of toxins in the body," Daigneau said, mentioning kidney stones as a possible ailment.

About 20 percent of our water intake comes from foods, and one way to boost hydration is by eating foods with high water content, such as fresh fruits and vegetables — especially celery or melons — or foods like soup, oatmeal and beans.

Drinking pure water is still the best way to stay hydrated, however, according to a group of six nutrition experts who created a set of guidelines for beverage consumption in 2006 much like the food pyramid. An article published by Harvard School of Public Health online revealed that water topped their list as the No. 1 drink of choice, followed by tea and coffee and then low-fat milk or soy beverages.

"Water provides everything the body needs — pure H2O — to restore fluids lost through metabolism, breathing, sweating and the removal of waste," according to the article. "Water should be the beverage you turn to most of the time."

Other tips offered by HSPH include creating your own infused waters by adding sliced cucumber, fresh ginger or citrus fruits to a pitcher of water, or crushed mint, berries or citrus zest. Adding a splash of fruit juice to sparkling water is another refreshing way to quench your thirst without all the calories of sugary soda or sports drinks.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com.

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