It’s our body’s vital fuel, a health drink from Mother Nature. It’s calorie-free, inexpensive and easily obtained. Yet, few people follow the old fashion advice to drink eight glasses of water per day.  Fueling up on water is key to ensuring your body functions optimally.

Does the average American drink enough water?

Most people drink when they are thirsty, but the beverage of choice tends to be some other drink besides water. Americans drink two or three glasses of plain water a day, according to a U.S Department of Agriculture study done in the late 1970s. Based on an analysis on all fluid intake by adults, water consumption is said to total about two quarts per day, and this includes water from foods and other beverages. It is usually not necessary to actually swallow two quarts of plain water every day, but people with special problems such as kidney conditions might be exceptions.

How much bottled water do we drink?

Americans drink eight gallons of bottled water per year, roughly two ounces or a quarter cup a day, according to the International Bottled Water Association. Californians drink three times the national average of bottled water, downing 24 gallons per year, or nearly a cup a day. Climate and seasons of the year play a role in one’s thirst as well, and just as we tend to perspire more in the summer months, we also tend to drink more water.

What are the benefits of drinking more water?

According to many experts, boosting intake of plain water makes good sense because water eases digestion and regulates body temperature. Water also bathes the cells and accounts for about 60 percent of body weight. Additionally, it can help us exercise longer and more efficiently. Drinking water can ward off constipation and maybe even crankiness. Since it’s a natural appetite suppressant, water can help us lose weight and keep it off. It can help keep skin healthy as well, although it won’t necessarily banish acne.

Who should drink water?

We all should, but pregnant women, nursing mothers, and athletes should be especially careful to drink a sufficient amount. Upping water intake is also wise when it is hot or humid. There are certain workers who seem to have a more difficult time developing the water-drinking habit. Among those who don’t normally drink enough water are teachers, airline attendants and nurses.

Water and Exercise

Drinking fluids, particularly water, during exercise reduces cardiovascular stress and improves performance. After a strenuous workout, you have to replace the fluids you have lost or you will suffer chronic dehydration. Drink water before, during and after exercising. Remember, water reduces body temperature and makes the whole exercise process safer.

Water is vital for kidney health.

Water can be especially helpful for people with a history of kidney stones because it dissolves calcium in the urine, reducing the risk of stone formation. It is also interesting to note that water helps prevent urinary tract infections, both for men and women. Among physicians, urologists are probably the most likely to extol the virtues of water. As a tip, it has been documented that drinking water mostly before 6pm can reduce the likelihood of nocturnal bathroom visits.

Alternative ways to track water intake.

Too busy to count how many glasses a day you drink? There are other ways to calculate if your intake is sufficient. Dark-colored urine often suggests you are not drinking enough water. Get into the habit by starting with a glass of water with every meal, then work in a cup in between meals.

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