05/25/2012 12:41 pm ET Updated Jul 25, 2012

Water: The Power Nutrient

Here it is, the easiest, most important step that you can take to improve your diet and get healthy: Drink more water! Water is the source of life; it gives your skin a glow, naturally flushes your body of toxins, and may even reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

The first thing I ask my clients when they come in for a consultation is, "Can I get you a glass of water?" People forget that drinking water is as important as a balanced eating and exercise plan. As the weather heats up, it is even more important to stay on track of your water intake.

Let's start at the basics: The majority of your body is composed of water; 60-65 percent for men, and 50-60 percent for women. Water carries nutrients to cells and flushes them of waste, and provides your basic internal biochemical environment. It stabilizes blood pressure, regulates body temperature, and provides an internal cushion for organs and joints.

Keeping your body properly hydrated requires drinking about two liters of water a day and increasing it as your activity level increases. A good way to tell if you are well hydrated is by the color of your urine -- the lighter, the better. Here are some signs and symptoms of hydration to be aware of, especially in children:

  • Flushed face
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dry, warm skin
  • Trouble passing urine or reduced amount that is dark in color
  • Overall weakness
  • Headaches
  • Cramping in the arms and legs
  • Dry mouth, dry tongue; thick saliva

In addition to drinking water, consumption of fruits and vegetables, soups, and other beverages count as part of your daily total intake. For variety and taste, flavor your water with orange, lemon, or cucumber slices. Dehydration is serious and can be life-threatening, so nourish your body and keep it hydrated!

For more by Carrie Wiatt, M.S., click here.

For more on personal health, click here.