Not enough can be said about the wonderful properties of water! Drinking water is healthy for your entire system, and helps you keep the quit! The human body is up to 70% water, and yet many people do not drink enough of it throughout the day. The American lifestyle itself can be dehydrating given our frequent consumption of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, sodas and high sodium meals. Mild dehydration can cause water retention, bloat, constipation and other symptoms including:
• Dry skin
• Lack of energy
• Dry mouth
Are you drinking enough water? Moderate to severe dehydration can be dangerous; even fatal. Drinking enough water can help your body in many ways. The ‘8 glasses per day’ conventional wisdom is not carved in stone (or substantiated by research) so how much water you need to drink per day varies. The more you sweat or exercise, the more water you need to replace. If you consume dehydrating foods and beverages, you will need to drink more. Fruits, vegetables, tea, soup and other diet choices contain water, so you can allow for some of the water content in your diet to count towards your overall daily water intake. Try aiming for 6 glasses a day to help get your water drinking habit moving forward. This can easily be accomplished by substituting a glass of water for every soda, sugar laden juice or junk food snack you would normally reach for. Water actually makes you want to drink more, so after a few days of drinking 6 glasses per day, you will actually feel thirsty. It is that easy!
Here are a few of the many benefits of drinking enough water per day:
• Helps you KTQ! Water is great for ‘hand to mouth’ triggers, reduces physical cravings, distracts from smoking urges and takes up empty time previous spent smoking.
• Helps clear toxins. Your kidneys use water to help break down, process and clear toxins from your system.
• Aids your digestive system. Your intestines use water to keep things moving smoothly! If you don’t drink enough water, your colon pulls water to maintain hydration and constipation is a likely result.
• Helps your blood and bones. Water is used by your body to make healthy new bone and muscle cells.
• Prevents puffiness. Water has a diuretic affect in your body. Inother words, drinking lots of water will increase the excretion of water from your body. Your body holds water to preserve it. If you drink enough water, you will not retain water (unless you have a medical condition).
• Helps your metabolism. Water contributes to weight loss by stimulating your metabolism, killing hunger pangs and filling you up.
• Helps your comfort level. Water is involved in balancing your body temperature.
• Saves your joints. Water lubricates your joints and may reduce pain.
• Gives your face a healthy glow. Water improves your skin through internal hydration.
• Saves You. Water may help prevent a heart attack! Drinking a glass of water before bed or a hot bath/shower may reduce your chance of a heart attack.
• Saves money. Water is cheaper than other beverages (or free).
• Improves your smile. Water has a slight alkalizing affect which helps reduce acidity and is good for your teeth and overall mouth health.
Drinking enough water is very good for all of you! You can add lemon, lime or a splash of juice to add flavor. Try ice, a straw and your favorite glass to make drinking water a pleasant part of your day. Next week we will talk about ways to kill your cravings with certain foods.
Drink up, and KTQ!
Vikki CTTS-M Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
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Halloween is rife with scary music, ghoulish décor and fiendish costumes. But for some, nothing could be more frightening than a trip to the dentist. Nothing, except perhaps going to the dentist and finding out that you have a cavity or gum disease.
Children are not the only ones getting cavities; adults have their fair share as well. According to the National Institutes of Health, 92% of adults have dental caries in their permanent teeth. Factors contributing to tooth and gum disease include brushing habits, genetics, stress and smoking!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokers are 4 times more likely than never smokers to have problems with oral health. These problems include:
- Bad breath
- Tooth discoloration
- Increased build up of plaque and tartar on the teeth
- Increased loss of bone in the jaw
- Increased risk for leukoplakia (white patches inside the mouth)
- Increased risk of gum disease
- Increased risk of oral cancer
- Problems with hot/cold sensitivity
- Tooth decay/loss
With every cigarette, thousands of chemicals, heat and smoke assault the teeth, gums and oral cavity. This alters the acidity of the mouth, contributes to plaque build up and staining of the teeth, damages taste buds and nerve cells, and impairs blood circulation. Smoking also compromises the immune system, making a smoker more susceptible to infections like cold sores.
Cigar smoking is not any better for oral health, even if you don’t inhale. Some cigars contain the equivalant amount of tobacco as an entire pack of cigarettes! The smoke and chemicals from cigar smoke can irritate the gums and can cause them to recede at rates similar to cigarette smokers.
Even without smoke or heat, tobacco in general is bad news for oral health. Smokeless tobacco comes into direct contact with the gums and causes even greater irritation and recession of the gum line. Furthermore, bacteria in the mouth “feed” on the sugar added to smokeless tobacco. This bacteria produces acid which eventually wears away at the tooth’s enamel, making smokeless tobacco users four times more likely than nonusers to develop cavities according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.
Knowing all of this, quitting all tobacco products for healthier teeth is a no brainer. When smokers quit, they cite noticing pinker gums and lips. Another benefit noticeable within days of quitting is improved sense of taste and smell—making food more enjoyable again! There may also be some less pleasant side effects. Sometimes smokers will notice gum sensitivity or gums that bleed more easily. Ex-smokers might also notice a “metallic” taste in mouth, a medical term known as dysguesia (altered taste). These symptoms are temporary and can probably be attributed to improved blood circulation, repair of taste buds and nerve cells, and other signs of healing those early weeks of quitting.
In the meantime, it’s important to keep up with a regular dental routine (brushing and flossing, using a "soft" toothbrush head, and being as gentle as possible) as well as maintaining regular visits to the dentist. Limiting sticky, sugary foods like juice, nougat, caramel and taffy will also help prevent cavities. Your dentist will no doubt notice the improvements and compliment you. And that's something to smile about.