Water is critical for so many of our bodily functions and yet drinking water is not usually part of our daily routine. We know we should drink it, but we don't get enough of it.

If you are smart NOW about your water intake, it will pay off big time, health-wise. It's especially important to pay attention to the amount of water you drink during the winter months, because it's just not as natural to crave cold drinks when it gets cold outside.

Water Fun Facts

1. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (Likely applies to half the world population.)
2. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is mistaken for hunger.
3. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as 3%.
4. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.
5. Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.
6. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
7. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.
8. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer. Are you drinking the amount of water you should drink every day?

What Happens if You Don't Get Enough Water?

When you exercise, your body heats up. It then starts to sweat to cool itself down. During a typical 30-minute run, you will lose 2 quarts of sweat. As you become more fit, you'll sweat even more. Water replenishes essential fluids lost during sweating, but it also cools the body down.

If you get dehydrated from lack of water, you will feel dizzy, weak, nauseated, and lightheaded.

Without sufficient water intake, you can't flush out toxins that accumulate in fat cells, muscles, and joints (which will lead to pain and stiffness).

Think of your intestines as a toilet - if there is no water in the toilet, you can't flush it, right? Well, the same is true for your intestines. Water is essential for smooth bowel functioning.

Without water, you'll be more prone to headaches and fatigue. You'll also experience more sugar cravings, which can be caused by dehydration.

Without water, you won't lose weight as easily, because water gives you a temporary sense of fullness. Sometimes when you find yourself overeating, it's simply your body's way of compensating for lack of water.

How Can You Get More Water into Your Day?

1) Have a glass of water after every meal.

2) Drink two glasses of water immediately upon waking in the morning (even before you jump in the shower).

3) Drink a glass of water instead of your afternoon coffee or soda.

4) Get in the habit of drinking a bottle of water during your workouts, and then another one afterwards.

5) Bring water bottles with you whenever you go (in your car, at work, by your bed). Experiment with different bottle sizes to see which works best for you. For some people, having to refill a small, 8 ounce bottle, reminds them to drink more. Other people prefer the large 50 ounce bottles so they know how much they have left to drink.

How Can You Make Water Taste Better?

1) Put a slice of fruit in it - a strawberry, lemon, lime, or frozen blueberries can transform a plain glass of water!

2) Put a tea bag in a pitcher of ice water and let it flavor your water (try herbal fruity teas or peppermint).

3) Make a cup of hot green or herbal tea (this is especially important in the winter, when you crave hot foods). There are great flavors out there - try Cocoa Spice, Egyptian Licorice, or Chai Tea. Stick to decaffeinated brands whenever possible.

4). Mix unsweetened cranberry juice, OJ, or a Vitamin water with your plain spring water.  Go half and half with something you already love.

5). Try sparkling water with cranberry juice and a splash of lime.

How Much Water Do You Need?

Forget about the old "8 glasses a day" mantra. Water intake is a personal thing. You can start with the standard 64 ounces a day, and then add water until your body tells you it's had enough. Don't worry if you don't feel like you need water right now. Once you start drinking water again, your body will remember that it needs it, and you will start to crave the water.

You know you're getting enough water if your urine is a pale yellow color. The only exception to this rule is after you've had a multi-vitamin. Sometimes the unused nutrients (particularly B vitamins) will turn your urine a bright yellow color.

Don't worry if you're getting up a lot to use the bathroom. Your bladder will get used to drinking more water...so be patient with it in the beginning please!

A word of caution: don't wait until you're thirsty to start drinking water. Once you're thirsty you're already dehydrated. Another tip: don't stop drinking just because you don't feel thirsty anymore. The thirst feeling goes away before you're fully re-hydrated.

Now, go get yourself a big glass of water right now! Drink it slowly and experience it with all your senses.

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