Water is vital for your health and thought of as “The key to life”. Our bodies consist of about 60-65% of water. Water is needed to carry nutrients around in the body, carry away waste, and protect us against heat exhaustion. The question that many of us have is, “How much is enough water?”
Many factors can influence the amount of water that you need. Physical activity, age, climate, illness or health conditions and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding will alter the amount of water required daily. There are a few ways to approach the task of getting enough water. I think all of us have heard the old, Eight cups a day of 8 ounces of water, school of thought. Many people use this general guideline as a basis for the amount of water they drink daily. According to the Dietary Reference Intake tables, the daily recommendation of fluid is 3.7 liters on average for males, and 2.7 liters for females.
Some may ask, “Does it have to be just water?” Simply the answer is, No. Most non-alcoholic beverages that we consume contribute to our total fluid intake over the course of our day. Milk, juice and other drinks mainly consist of water. Fruits and vegetables also contain water that contributes to your daily fluid intake. Just remember that most of the other beverages contain calories, so choose a low calorie option.
Thirst is not always a reliable way to recognize if our body needs fluids. The older we get the less we are able to sense thirst. Some have found that having water with each meal, and a glass of water between each meal is sufficient. Whatever you do, no matter what your beverage of choice may be, make a conscience effort to stay hydrated.
Erika Watson-Lawson is a registered dietitian with Memorial Hospital.