Water is known as the elixir of life, and for good reason. Did you know that you can live without food for weeks, but can die within days of not having fluids? Water makes up 60% of our body, and optimal body function requires adequate water intake. Drinking enough water everyday is crucial for many reasons – to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, support detoxification, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood. Even mild dehydration -as little as 2% fluid loss- can affect memory, mood, concentration, and reaction time.
You are always losing water and electrolytes during the day just by breathing, sweating, and going to the bathroom. On average, the body loses and needs to replace about 2 to 3 quarts of water daily. The National Academies of Medicine recommends that women should drink about 11 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day and 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) for men. Certain situations will require you to drink more water to maintain good hydration. These include physical activity and exercise, hot and/or humid weather, and occasions when you are vomiting or have diarrhea.
Unfortunately, Americans have been conditioned to expect high levels of sweetness in everything. This contributes to lack of water intake because it’s just plain boring. Flavoring water with real fruit is a great way to switch it up. And, don’t forget that there are many sources besides water that fluids can come from. Broth-based soup, as well as other beverages including coffee and tea, count towards your daily fluid intake. Also, vegetables and fruits such as cucumbers, lettuce, celery, tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, and strawberries count too. Sorry to say, wine is NOT on the list!
How do I know if I’m drinking enough? Simply waiting for their sensation of thirst is not a good enough sign of a need to drink. By the time we feel thirsty, our body is already dehydrated and potentially suffering some of the effects. Equally, simply drinking to eliminate the feeling of thirst does not fully hydrate the body. The best indicator of good hydration is urine color, a pale straw colored urine being a reliable indicator of good hydration. Darker colored urine is a sure sign that the body needs more fluid. Getting into the habit of drinking regularly is a great way of keeping hydrated.