Water Wise

Depositphotos_8452909_xsDid you know that if you use the feeling of thirst as your signal to replenish fluids, your body is already on it’s way to a state of dehydration?

Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60% of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. We loose up to 20 oz of fluids each day before factoring in any activities and our bodies have no way of replenishing this on it’s own. Some of the signs of dehydration include: thirst, headache, dizziness, lightheadedness and fatigue.

So how much should I drink? It is a simple question with no easy answer. Your water needs will depend on many factors including your health, how active you are and where you live. The Institute of Medicine determined that a healthy adult male living in a temperate climate should consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total fluids (this would include water contained in foods you may eat). A healthy adult female in that same temperate climate; 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total fluids a day.

What about the advice to drink eight glasses of water a day? That’s about 1.9 liters, which isn’t that different from the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation. Although the “8 by 8” rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, it remains popular because it is easy to remember. Drinking at least 8 glasses a day and including foods high in water content is a good way to reach your target fluid intake.

Factors that influence fluid replacement:

Exercise- If you sweat, you need to drink extra fluids to compensate for that loss. Short bouts of exercise: rehydrate with 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups. Intense work outs lasting more than an hour will require more fluids. You may also want to alternate with a sports drink.

Environment-  Hot humid weather or heated indoor air can both create a need for fluid replacement.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding- This is a time of great changes within a women’s body and there is an increased need for fluid intake in these circumstances. Consult your doctor for your specific fluid replacement needs.

Illness and Health Conditions- Fever, vomitting or diarrhea will cause fluid loss, you will want to increase your fluids. Your doctor may recommend rehyration solutions. Some circumstances on the other hand, such as heart failure, some types of kidney, liver and adrenal conditions may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake. Consult your doctor in case of illness or health issues for their specific guidelines.

So, what fluids should I choose?- Water is best. No surprises here! Avoid fluids high in suger or artificial flavors or other additives. Caffinated teas, coffee and soft drinks will cause you to loss more fluids than you are consuming. (It is suggested that you consume 2 glasses of water for each caffinated beverage you consume.) An occasional caffinated beverage is OK, but don’t count on them for fluid replacement.

Is there a way to know if I’m adequatley hydrated?- Generally, if you drink enough fluids so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 6 or more cups of colorless or light yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate.

If you are committed to a healthy lifestyle and long-term health, make drinking water a habit and a priority in your life.

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog Post)

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