Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hate water? You're missing key health benefits

Why is it so hard for us to drink plain water? 

"Some people say they don't like the taste of water.  Others get busy and sometimes ignore the body's need until it makes the message loud and clear," Norback says.

To encourage more water drinking, Norback suggests serving a glass of water at mealtimes and keeping a fresh bottle of water in the cup holder of the car.

Two years ago, Jeff Satz of San Jose began making those types of lifestyle changes when he decided to "get healthy," start cycling, and drink more water.  At the urging of his doctor, Satz, an engineer, increased his water intake to 10 glasses per day as a way to ease joint pain and squelch fatigue. I took a few months to "remind" himself to drink it.  Now, he realizes how dehydrated he was.

"I feel more energetic," says Satz, who is 47 and drinks his water from a refillable glass bottle.  He says having a bright-colored bottle on his desk and access to a water cooler at work helped him meet his goals.  "I crave the crisp taste, and when I drink something else, like juice or coffee, I have to drink water after it to quench my thirst."

Anisha Patel, an assistant professor in the Division of General Pediatrics at UCSF, says starting early, as a youngster, is a good way to make the water habit stick.  The water requirements for adolescents are less than they are for adults, but not by much: For young males (ages 4-18), the Institute of Medicine suggests 1.3 to 3.3 liters; for females in the same age group, 1.3 to 2.3 liters.

But, according to a 2011 study using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, among adolescents, plain water accounted for only 33 percent of total fluid intake, with the remainder coming from sugary beverages, like soda and energy drinks.  That's cause for concern, Patel says.

"Even mild dehydration can cause reduced cognition and physical performance in children," says Patel, whose research on water accessibility has helped get more clean, fresh drinking water onto school campuses.

So, how does Patel encourage her daughters, 2 and 7, to drink more water at home?  She uses the same strategy as Norback.

"I put citrus slices into a big jug of water and chill it in the fridge," she says.  "It makes it more palatable and refreshing to them."

Source: Jessica Yadegaran, Bay Are News Group Thunderdome