Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But maybe what they should really be saying is a glass of water a day keeps the doctor away. (Or more like eight glasses a day.)

Drinking water is essential to maintaining your health and well-being. Beyond simply keeping you healthy and thriving (and alive), water consumption can offer many benefits for you and your body. And the good news is that it's natural and free! (Unless you stick to bottled water, which is really unnecessary—but to each her own.)

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that women should drink approximately 2.7 liters of water per day. Of course, this varies from person to person, and even from day to day, depending on how much water you lose in a given day. For instance, if you engage in rigorous exercise, you will lose more water by working up a sweat and will need to replenish your fluids more often. Environment, too, plays a role in how much water you need. If you live in a hot, dry climate, you will need an extra glass of water or two to stay properly hydrated. Some illnesses cause dehydration, so if you are sick, you may need to drink up even more than you usually do. And if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you will also need additional fluids.

So why do you need to drink so much water every day? And how can you make sure you do it?

The why

Why should should you be drinking more water? Well, there are a lot of reasons:

1. It is necessary for survival.

I could really just stop here (but don't worry, I won't!). You need water to live. Your body is made up of roughly 60% water, and you need to stay hydrated to maintan your body's fluid balance. It is also essential for transporting nutrients, regulating temperate, and digesting food. Water is also necessary for protecting your brain and internal tissues and provides cushioning for your joints. It can help prevent joint pain by doing so.

If you don't drink water, you will die. Some people can live up to a week without water; others may only last a few days. It depends on the person, the climate, and other factors. But the bottom line is everyone needs water to live. So drink up!

2. It can help you lose weight.

That's right. Drinking more water may actually help you lose weight. Many people think they are hungry, when they are actually thirsty. Stay hydrated, and you will end up feeling fuller for longer. Feeling fuller can help supress your appetite and contribute to weight loss. So, if you are looking to drop a few pounds, you can start by adding more water to your diet. It may very well help!

3. It may help prevent cancer.

Research suggests that water may play a role in prevent some types of cancer. One study suggests that drinking enough water can reduce your risk of colon cancer by 45%. Another shows that drinking more water can reduce your risk of getting bladder cancer by 50%.

So that's just another way water might literally save your life.

4. It may help you stay focused.

If you are looking to increase your productivity at work, drink a glass of water. It can help you concentrate and focus on the task at hand.

One study even found a link between students bring bottles of water into their exam rooms and better grades. (However, keep in mind that this is just one study, so the link between hydration and a brain boost isn't proven.)

Drinking water can also help you combat fatigue—which in turn keeps you alert.

5. It helps ease pain and illness.

While drinking more water will not actually cure your cold, it may help you feel better along the way. Dehydration is a symptom of many illnesses, so replenishing your fluids consistently can help you feel slightly better (even if you still feel lousy). You also need these fluids especially when you're sick. Drinking more may help you recover faster (although keep in mind that this hasn't been scientifically proven).

Moreover, joint pains are more likely to occur when the body is dehydrated, so if you feel pain, make sure you are drinking enough.

Some headaches are caused by dehydration, too, and hangovers certainly are. So make sure you drinking enough water throughout the day and especially when you are consuming alcohol to keep the headaches and hangovers at bay.

6. It keeps your body running smoothly.

Your kidneys clear out waste and transport urine to your bladder. They need fluids in order to perform that critical function. Your colon and digestive system also need fluids to function properly. So you need to make sure you are drinking enough to keep your organs and body systems working properly.

The how

1. Carry a wattle bottle with you.

Find a water bottle that you really love. Perhaps it's a pink Nalgene with your alma mater's logo on it (that's what I use!). Maybe it's a stainless steel bottle that fits perfectly into a pocket of your backpack. Look for one that is easy to use and clean. It should be a convenient size that is not to heavy or large, so you can carry it with you easily. And make sure it's pretty! Having a water bottle that is attractive will make you more likely to want to bring it around and use it.

The point is, if it's convenient, portable, and attractive, you are more likely to use it. So find one that speaks to you!

Carry your water bottle with you at all times. Bring it to the office. Bring it to the gym. Bring it grocery shopping. If you have it with you, it will serve as a constant reminder that you need to be drinking more water. Just keep in mind the places you won't be able to have it, like airport security. You don't want to have to throw it out!

2. Draw markers on your water bottle to maximize your intake.

Use a permanent marker to draw lines on your water bottle to alert you when you need to drink more water. Write in the times of day by which you should drink to a certain level. For instance, you might have a marker for 9:00 a.m., and then, a couple ounces of water lower down at 10:00 a.m., and then another line at 11:00 a.m., and so on. The point as that you are measuring your water intake and ensuring you are constantly drinking enough water throughout the day. Decide how many ounces of water you should be drinking throughout the day, and divide your bottle up accordingly. Since your bottle probably won't hold all the water you need in a given day, you could double up lines, such as having one line represent 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

3. Use an app.

There are many apps to help you keep track of how much water you are drinking and ensure that you are hitting your daily goal. Some of the best free options for tracking water consumption include Daily Water, Hydro Coach, Water Drink Reminder, Hydro Diary, Waterbalance, Watertime Pro, and many others. These apps can serve as a water tracker and help you meet your individual goals. For instance, if you want to drink enough water to maintain your health and well-being and reach your fitness goals, Hydro Coach allows you to build your hydration program into your daily workout.

If you have a competitive streak, try Waterbalance. You will be able to earn badges and share your small victories with your friends—in others words, brag about how much water you have managed to drink. You can also input your height, weight, age, and lifestyle, so the app will customize your water-drinking program to you.

Alternatively, you could set alarms on your phone throughout the day to remind you that it is time to drink a certain number of ounces of water. For instance, set an alarm every hour to remind you to take a sip. (It may just be me, but apps seem a little more fun.)

4. Eat food that is high in water.

You don't actually have to drink water to make sure you drink enough water (well, you still need to drink some). Healthy eating can also keep you hydrated. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 20% of our daily water intake comes from food, while the rest comes from beverages.

Eating water-rich foods is a great way to up your water intake. Cucumber, zucchini, watermelon, and grapefruit are good choices—they are all made up of more than 90% water.

Other water-rich foods include lettuce, celery, radishes, tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, spinash, strawberries, borccoli, apricots, cherries, and grapes.

Keep in mind that cooking these foods reduces the amount of water in them, so try to eat them raw.

Another plus side: these foods promote healthy eating, since they have many nutrients along with the great water supply you are getting. They can also promote weight loss.

Another option you could try in addition to eating water-rich foods is eating spicy food. While spicy foods may not naturally be high in water, eating them will make you crave more water, so you will end up drinking more of it.

5. Add some flavor to your water.

Make your water a little more interesting. Cut fruits such as lemons, grapefruits, and oranges into slices, and freeze them. Adding slices to a pitcher or glass of water will make it tastier and more refreshing. Plus, freezing the slices with turn them into ice cubes and make your water nice and cold.

You could also literally spice up your beverage. Trying adding some ginger or cinnamon to your drink. If you want something hot and soothing, a cup of herbal tea with a squeeze of lemon and cinnamon can be a delicious and calming option.

6. Make water part of your daily routine.

Simply incorporating water into your daily routine can help you ensure that you are drinking enough of it. Keep a water bottle or glass on your nightstand, and take a long drink as soon as you wake up in the morning. Drink a full glass before every meal. Drink a full glass with every meal, too. You can replace soda or other drinks with water—this can not only help you drink more water, but it will also cut costs and calories. (While soda and other drinks do contain water, many also contain sodium, which dehydrates you further—so you will need more water just to keep up with your soda-drinking. Plus, these drinks tend to be high in sugar.) Keep a water bottle at your desk to encourage you to drink throughout the day, too.

Making water part of your daily routine will help it become a habit for you. Then you will start drinking it throughout the day without even thinking about it.

There are many life hacks to help you drink more water throughout the day. Find the strategy or strategies that work best for you, and stick with them. Drink more water: Your life depends on it!

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