©2018 Mahoning Valley Water Inc.  The Beverage of Life      It's only in a crisis, it seems, the we every appreciate anything.  Water, for instance, is such a common part of our daily lives that we tend to take it for granted.  The universal role it plays, and the fact that it is readily available make it seem insignificant.          Maybe that's why the importance of water becomes so painfully clear during natural disasters.  Following the devastating earthquake in Kobe, Japan last January, a city water administrator jumped from his office window to his death because he was unable to deliver standing tanks of water to his customers.      Communique, a newsletter of the Canadian Water Quality Association, reported that during the 1994 California disaster, earthquake entrepreneurs were out in force in Los Angeles, but "not all of them motivated by the angels."  Water was reportedly sold for $10 a gallon. Bodies of Water      Without question, this precious, clear liquid is one of the most important nutrients in the diet.  American Dietetic Association (ADA) Media Ambassador and International Bottled Water Association spokesperson, Felicia Busch, M.P.H., R.D., summed it up this way:  "When people think about nutrients and food groups they forget that water is the most important nutrient".      The amount of water in each person body varies, but the average adult body weight is 55 to 75 percent water.  In other words, most adults carry around 10-12 gallons of water, which regulates body temperature, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, and removes wastes.  This "body water" also cushions joints and protects tissues and organs.      In general, the ADA recommends adults drink 8 to 12 cups of water daily.  However, water needs increase with a persons' body weight and level of activity.  Start with 8 cups of water a day and increase your intake 1 to 3 cups based on the length and intensity of your activities, Busch recommends. When to Increase Your Water Intake           There are times when you should increase your water intake, according to Jeannine Relly, a nutritionist and dietician in Tucson, Arizona.  It is important to be aware of situations and environments so that you can combat them before dehydration sets in.  In general, increase your fluid intake in the following situations: In an environment with heated or re-circulated air because the drying effect of the air draws water straight out of your skin. When eating a high fiber diet because it requires more water to process the roughage and prevent constipation. When performing strenuous work or exercise routines your body's water evaporates. Pregnant or breast-feeding mothers need to increase their fluid intake based on the doctors' recommendations. If you are exposed to extreme climates - hot or cold - because the body must work harder to maintain its normal temperature. Drinking for Health      "Water is more important than any other food, any vitamin, mineral or supplement you would get because you can go for days without all of those things. . . but not without water," Busch said.      Nonetheless, water wasn't included in the basic four food groups pyramid developed by the federal government.  Busch thinks water may have been left out inadvertently because "water is so basic that it get overlooked."      There are ways, however, to increase water intake, according to the ADA, and not overlook what your body needs.  Some of the tips you can use to increase your daily water intake include: Always bring bottled water on airplanes because pressurized cabins drain the body of moisture. Spray your face with water while exercising, for refreshment and to keep the pores clean and the skin moist. Have a glass of water before meals and snacks to help take the edge off your appetite. Take water breaks instead of coffee breaks. Alternate sparkling water for alcoholic beverages if you drink. Drink before, during, and after any activity. Other Fluids to Choose      Besides pure, unadulterated water, what other fluids are good hydrators for the body and mind?  Juice, milk, and other beverages can account for some of your daily water needs, but caffeinated coffees and teas, sodas, and alcoholic drinks cause the body to lose water.  Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which causes water loss through frequent urination.      Some sports enthusiasts drink beverages designed to replace fluids and provide calories for energy.  Typically, they are marketed as "sports drinks".  There are several different brands of the market currently, but beware of those with high sodium and potassium contents because your body needs fluids, not sugar or mineral.  The ADA recommends water, the beverage of life, as the "best drink for most sports activities". Talk to a Pro      Through the ADA's National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics, a consumer nutrition hotline is available for those who would like more information about nutrition and proper hydration.  Talk with a registered dietician (RD) by dialing 1-800-366-1655 between 10 am - 5 pm, eastern, Monday - Friday. By Michele Williams WC&P Executive Editor MAHONING VALLEY WATER