Though a cliché, we are well-aware of and totally second the fact that water is the elixir of life. More than 70% of our universe is covered by water and almost 50-60% of human body is filled with water and these are exemplary examples of Nature for reinstating the vitality of water for human existence.
Hitting the Levels Right
We can survive without food for a couple of days or even weeks (rarely) but living without water is an impossible task. Our bodies crave water all through the year, especially during the months of peak summer. All these aside, what exactly is the requirement of the human body when it comes to this priceless liquid?
Studies provide us with various recommendations regarding water intake and it is an often-heard suggestion to drink 8 glasses of water daily or consume up to 3 liters/day. In reality, your health, sex, activity level and where you live (hot, humid, cold, dry, etc.,) greatly influence your body’s water needs which in turn helps to decide upon how much water to drink each day. Our body’s every cell, tissue and organ need water to function properly and keep us in good health. For instance, water keeps our body temperature in control, helps to expel waste in the form of urination, sweating and bowel movements, lubricates joints, keeps muscles flexible, protects tissues, transports nutrients and above all, keeps the mind and body healthy. Imbalance of water levels in the body can disturb any/all of these functions, cause dehydration and make any individual feel drained out and tired.
Although the U.S. Food & Nutrition Board recommended consuming 2.5 liters/day of water which includes fluids from prepared foods, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today feels that there is no hard and fast rule regarding water consumption as it is entirely based on every individual’s body, but it does talk about fluid intake from all sources. Again in 2004, the Food & Nutrition Board recommended men to drink at least 3.7 liters of water/day while the levels stand at 2.7 liters/day (or 11 glasses approximately) for women. This not only includes strict consumption of water but indicates the total fluid consumption in the form of foods, plain drinking water and other beverages. Again, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines of the U.S. don’t impose strict restrictions/limits on the total daily fluid consumption levels but rather recommend choosing plain water instead of flavored water or juices with added sugars.
The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom recommend individuals to consume 6-8 glasses of water per day or close to 2 liters (1.9 liters precisely) daily which also includes water present in food. The NHS clearly states that this quantity is only for places situated in a temperate climate and those countries/cities in a hotter climate need a much-greater water intake.
In the case of older adults, too much or too little of water consumption bear their own risks. Dehydration or overhydration might be the result of health conditions, medications, loss of muscle mass, kidney functionality inefficiency or other such factors. Older adults need just the right amount of water, neither too less nor too much. Dehydration can even cause confusion, UTIs, kidney failure or slower wound healing.
Important Factors that Affect Water Intake
Your water consumption might vary here and there depending on a few factors.
Exercise: Engaging in physical activity can cause loss of water in terms of sweat and often cause dehydration. To avoid this, it is essential to drink water before, during and after workout to cover the fluid losses.
Climate/Environment: Humid/hot weather can make us sweat in excess and cause increased fluid intake.
Health conditions: There might be increased loss of fluids due to fever, vomiting, diarrhea, bladder infections or urinary tract stones. It is crucial to drink more water during these times and pay attention to what advise the physician has to offer. Even breastfeeding women need to consume additional fluids along with their regular intake during these times.
Rarely feeling thirst or colorless/yellow colored urine indicate that you are consuming the right quantity of water required by your body. If you are doubtful on the required fluid quantity, it is better to get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist/physician at www.firsteatright.com who can help you determine the amount of water that’s required by your body daily. One must be cautious to never overdrink water as overconsumption of the liquid can also result in some health problem. This happens when you drink too much of water, but your kidneys can’t flush out the excess water resulting in a condition called as hyponatremia that causes your sodium levels to fall, body water levels to rise and cells to swell which might cause even life-threatening problems. This is profoundly seen in the case of endurance athletes.
Eat & Sip Healthy Fluids
Your fluid requirements don’t depend solely on water but can also be fulfilled by other beverages and food. These other beverages such as sodas, smoothies and juices can contain increased sugar content and be high in calories too. Even sports drinks recommended by many health-conscious individuals can be high in calories and sugar making the drink lose its purpose. Other best sources of fluids include produce like cucumbers, watermelons, white pumpkin, iceberg lettuce and celery that contain over 90% water. These are refreshing, healthy and satisfy your fluid requirements too. Doesn’t it sound good to fulfil multiple requirements in one go?
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.