How much water did you drink today? Sadly, many Americans are more likely to reach for soda than water. According to the National Soft Drink Association, consumption of sodas is now over 600 cans per person per year. Since the late 1970`s, soft drink consumption in the United States has doubled for females and tripled for males, with lads between the ages of 12-29 averaging as much as 160 gallons annually!

So, why is drinking enough water so important? For starters, water is essential for life, making up 55-75% of your body, transporting nutrients in and cellular waste out, regulating body temperature, protecting your organs and helping you stay mentally alert. In fact, drinking too little is associated with memory loss and reduced cognitive function.1

Did you know water is also a great energy booster? In her book Outsmarting Female Fatigue (2002) Debra Waterhouse, R.D. notes that the lack of energy you experience today may be a result of not drinking enough water yesterday, as chronic dehydration leaves you sluggish and fatigued. Water facilitates all biochemical reactions, including the production of the vital ATP molecules that power our bodies with energy.

Can hydrating properly also promote weight loss? Thirst and hunger sensations are triggered together, so when you become even mildly dehydrated, you can mistake thirst for hunger, eating when you actually need fluids. You can prevent overeating due to thirst by drinking water before each meal/snack. This is not only healthier, since you’re sure to stay well hydrated, but it will also help your waistline by ensuring that you’re addressing true body hunger when you eat, not thirst.

Did you know your metabolism─the rate at which you burn calories─is also affected by your daily water consumption? Metabolism is a chemical process requiring water, and drinking too little can hinder it. One study showed that a mere two cups of water increased metabolic rate by 30%.2 Staying well hydrated is also very important for healthy digestion and to prevent constipation.

How much should you be drinking each day? While 8 glasses is a good guide, you can also base your intake on your body weight, estimating an ounce of water for every two pounds. For example, a 200 lb. person would ideally consume 100 ounces─12.5 cups per day─while someone weighing in at 100 lbs. should drink at least 6.5 cups daily.

The best way to stay hydrated is to keep water handy. Have pure distilled water delivered if you can, making it easy to fill up your own eco-friendly bottles and keep them readily available─by your bedside, your computer, even your TV remote control. Think of your water bottle as a permanent accessory, so you’re never caught thirsty.

When you need some zing, enliven your water with a squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange, enjoy natural sparkling water, and try caffeine-free herbal teas hot and iced. At dinner parties, offer iced water and refill often. Guests usually consume less wine at dinner when water is equally accessible.

Also, be sure to add a glass of water for every alcoholic drink, soda and cup of coffee too, since these are dehydrating fluids. Staying well hydrated benefits every single cell in your body. Your skin will glow in gratitude, and you’ll feel better and slimmer─with energy to spare.

1 Int J Psychophysiol. 2004 Jul;53(2):121-5
2J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Dec;88(12):6015-9