It’s been another summer of high temperatures and I've been talking with many of my clients to see if they are drinking enough water to avoid dehydration. And the news media is beginning to sound like a broken record, too. Over and over again we’re reminded to keep ourselves well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. But it’s an important message—not just during a heat wave, but also throughout the year, because water serves so many critical functions in the body.
The human body is nearly 70% water, so it’s no surprise that we need to stay well-hydrated in order to stay healthy. We need water to transport nutrients to cells and to get rid of waste products. Water also works to control body temperature and to provide lubrication to joints, organs and tissues. And most of the chemical reactions in the body take place in water, too. Water is also the most natural drink on earth. Humans, after all, drank water long before they drank tea, or beer or wine.
Even though drinking a glass of water shouldn’t require a second thought, I run into people all the time who have questions and misunderstandings about the world’s oldest beverage.
If you’re one of those people who keeps track of your fluid intake, and you monitor how much you drink every day, then you probably have a pretty good idea. But there are some other indicators of where your fluid intake should be to keep in mind if you're more of a free spirit.
Most people need between 8 and 12 cups of fluid a day (about 2-3 liters). Needs vary, of course, depending on your age, your gender and how active you are. But in general for every 50 pounds of body weight, you need about a quart of water every day (or about a liter for every 25 kg of body weight). For most people that fall within the often-cited suggestion that we take in at least 8 glasses a day.
Fruits and veggies can provide 20% or more of your water needs. Watery foods can go a long way towards meeting your fluid needs. If your meals include plenty of fruits and vegetables, and you drink fluids with meals, you’re probably meeting your water needs. There are nearly 3 cups of water in a meal that includes a salad, some broccoli, brown rice and watermelon for dessert. On the other hand, too many people eat a ‘dry’ diet that’s heavy on processed foods—a meal of a cheeseburger and a bag of chips contains less than a half a cup of fluid.
So drink up!