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Water, the key to survival

By Brigitte Weymiller, RD, CD, CDE, Gundersen Nutrition Therapy

Water is one of the six essential nutrients (along with carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals). Around 60 percent of our body is made up of water and we can only live three to five days without fluids.

Water plays many important roles in the body including flushing waste from the body, regulating body temperature, transportation of nutrients and is necessary for digestion. No wonder it is considered "essential!" Plain water is the best choice for hydrating the body.

Can water help me lose weight?
Water can help provide a feeling of fullness because water adds volume. Your body can mistake thirst for hunger, which can lead to increased intake if not mindful. Consistent fluid consumption may prevent snacking and extra portions. Substituting water for higher calorie beverages can help decrease calories. Foods with high water content can help with improved eating habits by increasing the fullness factor.

What about other beverages?
Beware of beverages containing added sugar. Our bodies do not feel "fullness" from liquid calories. The liver and kidneys have to filter the color, additives and sweeteners (natural or not) before the water in them can be absorbed. It is always best to drink plain water, and flavor with fruit or herbs as needed.

Tips to increase your intake of fluid:

  1. Have a beverage with every snack and meal.
  2. Pay attention to your thirst.
  3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Their high water content will add to your hydration. 
  4. Keep a bottle of water with you in your car, at your desk, or in your bag.
  5. Choose beverages that meet your individual needs. If you're watching calories, go for non-caloric beverages or water.
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