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Staying hydrated isn't just for athletes. Water makes up about 60 percent of our bodies, so drinking enough fluids keeps everything functioning more smoothly from head to toe. And when you skimp on fluids, you can feel tired, lack the energy to exercise, or even struggle to think clearly.
Here are some basic tips:
1. Reach for water. According to the Institute of Medicine, women should get about 91 ounces of fluids each day; men, about 125 ounces. Since about one fifth of that typically comes from food, aim for 9 to 12 cups of fluids. Make water your main choice: it's free--of cost and calories!
2. Add a spritz of flavor. For a more natural option, add a squirt of lime or lemon to naturally freshen your water. Or try mint, watermelon, or a slice of cucumber to give your water some punch.
3. Eat up. All foods contain some water. Fruit and vegggies deliver the most.
4. Guzzle when it's hot--and cold. In hot weather, you typically need to drink more because you sweat more, especially if you're exercising. Humidity also increases your water needs since it makes it harder for your body to cool itself. And although we tend to skimp on water when it's chilly out--don't. You lose more water while breathing frigid, dry air.
5. Replace electrolytes when needed. Electrolytes--which include nutrients like sodium and potassium--are lost in sweat. Electrolytes are essential for vital reactions in the body. It's important to replace electrolytes when they're depleted. Most electrolytes can be replenished simply with regular, healthy meals, but if you're exercising for longer than 60 minutes, you may want to consider a sports drink (particularly if it's a warm day).
6. Refill your bottle. The best way to make sure you're drinking enough water is to keep a water bottle handy when you're on the go. What kind of bottle is right for you?
a) Glass water bottles are the easiest to clean and recycle. Glass is also the most fragile, so consider one with a protective silicone sleeve.
b) Plastic bottles are typically inexpensive. And since 2010, most are free of bisphenol A (BPA), a compound that, according to some studies, may be linked with some types of cancer, infertility, heart disease and diabetes. Note: Health concerns with other leachable toxins in plastics still exist and plastic bottles generally are not safe for hot liquids or microwaves.
c) Stainless steel is lightweight and dishwasher safe, but can dent if dropped.
d) Aluminum bottles look like stainless steel, with one difference: aluminum reacts with acidic liquids, so they're lined with an enamel or epoxy layer than can wear down. Gauge how likely the lining is to leach BPA by looking at its color: A golden-orange coating will leak BPA; a white lining will not.
(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)