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Healthy Practices

Ever notice how lifeless a house plant looks when you forget to water it? Just add a little wate,r and it seems to perk back up. Water is just as essential for our bodies. Water is in every cell, tissue, and organ in your body. That's why getting enough water every day is so important for your health. Healthy people meet their fluid needs by drinking when thirsty, and drinking fluids with meals. But, if you're outside in hot weather for most of the day or doing vigorous physical activity, you'll need to make an effort to drink more fluids.

Where do I get the water I need?

Most of your water needs are met through the water and beverages you drink. You can get some fluid through the foods you eat. For example, broth soups and other foods that are 85% to 95% water such as celery, tomatoes, oranges, and melons.

What does water do in my body?

Water helps your body with the following:

· Keeps its temperature normal.

· Lubricates and cushions your joints.

· Protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues.

· Gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.

Why do I need to drink enough water each day?

You need water to replace what your body loses through normal everyday functions. Of course, you lose water when you go to the bathroom or sweat, but you even lose small amounts of water when you exhale. You need to replace this lost water to prevent dehydration. Your body also needs more water when you are:

· In hot climates.

· More physically active.

· Running a fever.

· Having diarrhea or vomiting.

To help you stay hydrated during prolonged physical activity or when it is hot outside:

1. Drink fluid while doing the activity.

2. Drink several glasses of water or other fluid after the physical activity is completed.

Also, when you are participating in vigorous physical activity, it's important to drink before you even feel thirsty. Thirst is a signal that your body is on the way to dehydration. Some people may have fluid restrictions because of a health problem, such as kidney disease. If your healthcare provider has told you to restrict your fluid intake, be sure to follow that advice.

Tips for Increasing Your Fluid Intake by Drinking More Water

Under normal conditions, most people can drink enough fluids to meet their water needs. If you are outside in hot weather for most of the day or doing vigorous activity, you may need to increase your fluid intake. If you think you're not getting enough water each day, the following tips may help:

· Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work or running errands.

· Freeze some freezer-safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.

· Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This tip can also help with weight management. Substituting water for one 20-ounce sugar-sweetened soda will save you about 240 calories.

· Choose water instead of other beverages when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.

· Give your water a little pizzazz by adding a wedge of lime or lemon. This may improve the taste, and you just might drink more water than you usually do.

Do sugar-sweetened beverages count?

Although beverages that are sweetened with sugars do provide water, they usually have more calories than unsweetened beverages. To help with weight control, you should consume beverages and foods that don't have added sugars.

Examples of beverages with added sugars:

· Fruit drinks.

· Some sports drinks.

· Soft drinks and sodas (non-diet).

How to Avoid Portion Size Pitfalls to Help Manage Your Weight

When eating at many restaurants, it's hard to miss that portion sizes have gotten larger in the last few years. The trend has also spilled over into the grocery store and vending machines, where a bagel has become a BAGEL and an "individual" bag of chips can easily feed more than one. Research shows that people unintentionally consume more calories when faced with larger portions. This can mean significant excess calorie intake, especially when eating high-calorie foods. Here are some tips to help you avoid some common portion-size pitfalls.

Portion control when eating out. Many restaurants serve more food than one person needs at one meal. Take control of the amount of food that ends up on your plate by splitting an entrée with a friend. Or, ask the wait person for a "to-go" box and wrap up half your meal as soon as it's brought to the table.

Portion control when eating in. To minimize the temptation of second and third helpings when eating at home, serve the food on individual plates, instead of putting the serving dishes on the table. Keeping the excess food out of reach may discourage overeating.

Portion control in front of the TV. When eating or snacking in front of the TV, put the amount that you plan to eat into a bowl or container instead of eating straight from the package. It's easy to overeat when your attention is focused on something else.

Go ahead, spoil your dinner. We learned as children not to snack before a meal for fear of "spoiling our dinner." Well, it's time to forget that old rule. If you feel hungry between meals, eat a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit or small salad, to avoid overeating during your next meal.

Be aware of large packages. For some reason, the larger the package, the more people consume from it without realizing it. To minimize this effect:

· Divide up the contents of one large package into several smaller containers to help avoid over-consumption.

· Don't eat straight from the package. Instead, serve the food in a small bowl or container.

Out of sight, out of mind. People tend to consume more when they have easy access to food. Make your home a "portion friendly zone."

· Replace the candy dish with a fruit bowl.

· Store especially tempting foods, like cookies, chips, or ice cream, out of immediate eyesight, like on a high shelf or at the back of the freezer. Move the healthier food to the front at eye level.

· When buying in bulk, store the excess in a place that's not convenient to get to, such as a high cabinet or at the back of the pantry.

Nutrition Basics

Do you ever feel like you can't keep up with the changes in technology? Sometimes it seems that way with dietary advice, as if things are always changing. While it's true that the fields of diet and nutrition are areas of evolving research, there are some basic concepts you can keep in mind. By knowing these basics, you will be better equipped to sort through nutrition research and dietary advice.

Food Groups

What are the basic food groups? Foods are grouped together when they share similar nutritional properties, by understanding the basic food groups, you'll be able to plan a healthy daily diet.

Water

Water is involved in every function of the body. It's in every cell, tissue and organ of the body. In this section you'll learn why getting enough water every day is important for your health.

Dietary Fat

Whether you're looking for information about monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, saturated fat, trans fat, or cholesterol, you'll find what you need here.

Carbohydrates

You may be wondering what all the hype is about carbohydrates or "carbs" as they are often called. Find out the facts.

Protein

Then there's protein. How much do you really need? Can you get too much? You'll find answers to these questions and more by visiting this section.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are nutrients your body needs to grow and develop normally. The NIH Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Fact Sheets provide information about the role of vitamins and minerals in health and disease.

Exercise: 6 benefits of regular physical activity

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.

Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Need more convincing to exercise? Check out these seven ways exercise can improve your life.

No. 1: Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don't need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can't do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.

No. 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, and certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

No. 3: Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressf