Unlike most other foods, there is no conflicting science on the benefit of drinking water. As we all know, water is essential to life.

However, proper hydration is too often taken for granted until we face emergency health issues or dehydration. Consuming water helps Americans achieve optimal nutritional health, especially when substituted for sugar-based beverages.

Today more than ever, Americans are paying the price for dietary choices that do not include enough water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly half of U.S. children and more than two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight and obese.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, contain language promoting the consumption of water instead of sugar-based beverages. However, most healthy diet marketing collateral visible in doctor’s offices and school cafeterias across the U.S. today feature grains, proteins, dairy but lack representation of water.

Recent research shows that our youth do not drink enough water to form healthy habits. Only 70% of babies, ages 12 to 24 months, are given water to drink daily, and only 80% of our youth ages 2 to 19 years old drink water daily. In addition, those ages 60 and older are among the most vulnerable to dehydration.

Our bodies are almost 70% water, our muscles are up to 75% water, our heart is up to 80% water – while our brain is made of up to 85% water! All the most important body parts need water to stay hydrated every day. Losing as little as 1% of your body’s water can impair muscle function and cognition.

Water is the best choice to maintain hydration. Be sure to drink before, during and after activity. Even when you aren’t thirsty, keep drinking water. Avoid soda, fruit juices, flavored waters, and any drinks that contain high concentrations of sugar.

Clean, healthy, filtered water is the best water to stay hydrated. Faucet mount filters and pitcher filtered water are a much better option than chlorinated tap water, but Reverse Osmosis Water is the best filtered water you can put in your body to stay hydrated.

For more information on how you can safeguard your home’s water supply, visit the Water Quality Association at wqa.org, or call a local water treatment professional.

Chris Lane is the owner of Culligan Water Conditioning of the Lowcountry, serving Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties. culliganhhi.com