Feel better by staying hydrated.

I will be the first to admit that I do not have a love affair with water. It is not my first choice of beverage; nor is it my second or even third. And yet, for rheumatoid arthritis patients, water makes the world go ‘round. Staying hydrated is essential to reducing joint pain and living a healthier life.

Balancing Out your Beverages

In my life, coffee rules. Perhaps it’s my Louisiana roots talking here, but in my book, coffee is a drink to enjoy at any time of day. There’s only one problem with that: coffee — and my second-favorite beverage, Diet Coke – contains caffeine, and caffeine is a diuretic. That means that if I only indulge in my favorite beverages all day, then I will find myself in a pretty bad place physically because I won’t really have quenched my thirst; I will have dehydrated myself.

One of the first tips my Health Advisor gave me, which has made a huge difference in my life, is to balance out my beverages. She knew that asking me to cut out coffee would be a waste of time, so she offered up this suggestion: for every cup of coffee you drink, have two cups of water. At mealtimes, that means I might have coffee with breakfast but have water with lunch and dinner. In between meals, I’m a “two-fisted” drinker, with a 16-oz water glass sitting right next to my coffee cup.

Cutting your Caffeine

In addition to balancing your beverages, watching out for hidden dehydrators helps as well. Dark chocolate may be great for boosting your mood, but did you know that chocolate contains caffeine? So does tea – both the black and green types. And many people don’t realize that while most orange sodas like Fanta are caffeine-free, Sunkist has caffeine added to it. Even coffees can vary in caffeine content, with Starbucks being one of the most caffeinated brands.

If you’re trying to cut back on caffeine, start by reading labels. Most herbal teas are caffeine-free, and some brands offer decaf as an option for their green and black teas. Do a quick Internet search to learn about the caffeine content of sodas and coffee brands, and if you don’t want to give up your favorite brand of regular coffee, try mixing it with decaf for your own special kind of half-caff!

Infuse your Water with Flavor

If you aren’t a water-lover because you think it’s “boring” then try adding a little flavor to it. One of the easiest ways to add some zing is to squeeze a little lemon or lime juice into it. You can also infuse the water with flavor – and vitamins – by adding cut-up fruits and vegetables to a pitcher of water that you can drink from throughout the day. Some of the more popular additions are oranges, strawberries, kiwi, cucumber and mint.

Double Up When you’re Hot

Whether you’re sweating from the weather or a workout, when your body heats up, it will start losing moisture content through perspiration. That’s when it’s time to get that 20-ounce water bottle out…and don’t be shy about refilling it! The faster your body is shedding its H2O, the faster you need to replenish it.

Drinking lots of water may not be an easy habit to develop, but its benefits far outweigh the effort. Not only will your joints thank you, but your digestion will improve and you might even lose a few pounds! So the next time you get thirsty, set aside the soft drink and down a nice cool glass of water instead. You’ll be glad you did!

Read More from Linda: 

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