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The weight of water: Replacing caloric beverages with water can benefit your health

Those chasing the latest diet trends may just need to go back to the basics. Water is essential to human life, but it can be more beneficial in a person's diet than many people realize.

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Those chasing the latest diet trends may just need to go back to the basics. Water is essential to human life, but it can be more beneficial in a person's diet than many people realize.

Water helps to keep a person alert and focused, as well as doing other tasks such as keeping a person's joints hydrated, said Mandy Burbank, a dietitian at the Grand Forks Public Health Department.

Water also can be key for people who are looking to lose weight, Burbank said.

Many people who struggle with their weight may be getting excess calories from drinks. Those can vary from highly caffeinated soft drinks to juices to coffee drinks.

Water, however, has zero calories and can provide a great alternative to high-calorie drinks, Burbank said.

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"When we start to take some of those away and substitute non-calorie beverages like water, they can see where they will lose a good amount of weight," she said.

Burbank said she knows people who have lost a significant amount of weight just by making the change from these drinks to water.

"Those liquid calories, the body doesn't recognize them the same way that it recognizes food calories. You'll feel full from 500 calories of food. But if you drink 500 calories of liquid, you don't feel the same, so you're often drinking more calories than your body recognizes."

Along with that, Burbank said oftentimes people may mistake dehydration for hunger. She encourages people to drink a cup or two of water before a big meal for a person looking to lose weight.

"If you find yourself getting hungry, first make sure you're well-hydrated so you're not mistaking that for hunger," she said.

Daily water intake

Even for those not looking to lose weight, it's still vital they get enough water throughout the day. The Institute of Medicine recommends nine cups of liquid for women and 13 for men in order to get the daily intake of fluid a person needs. That doesn't mean it all has to be water, Burbank said, but that should make up a majority of a person's daily intake.

Not getting enough water can make a person feel tired or sluggish, as well as allow dehydration to set in.

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For people who aren't getting their recommended amount of water each day, Burbank recommended eating foods that are high in water, such as fruit. A watermelon, she said, is about 90 percent water, and is a healthy food on top of that. Carrying a water bottle with you or having one on your desk at work also can remind people to keep drinking.

"We need water to live, so of course it's important," Burbank said. "It's probably more important than a lot of people think."

Related Topics: GRAND FORKS PUBLIC HEALTH
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