Water is essential to good health. Every cell, tissue and organ in our body needs water. Water helps our bodies stay healthy in a number of ways. Water helps to regulate our body temperature, lubricate and cushions joints, and eliminate waste.
We lose water when we breathe and through other body processes such as urinating, perspiring, and bowel movements. Because of this we must remember to replenish our body stores by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. When we don’t drink enough water, we can become dehydrated. Dehydration can cause headaches, dizziness, or digestion problems. It can also affect mood, memory or how well you process information. Luckily, these symptoms often go away once your body gets rehydrated. Severe dehydration, however, requires medical attention and can cause confusion, kidney failure, heart problems and possibly death.
Water makes up about 50%-70% of your body weight and individual water needs depend on many factors including your age, sex, activity level, environment, and overall health. The general guidance on water intake for most healthy people is based on age and sex. These estimates include fluids consumed from both foods and beverages, including water. Considering that, women need about 11.5 cups per day and men need about 15.5 cups.
You typically get about 20% of the water you need from the food you eat. Taking that into account women and men needs the following amounts of fluid daily.
- Women – 9 cups of fluid per day
- Men – 13 cups of fluid per day
When should you modify your fluid intake?
- Exercise. If you do any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to cover the fluid loss. It’s important to drink water before, during and after a workout. Proper hydration is one of the most important aspects of healthy physical activity.
- Consider the environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and require additional fluid.
- When your body loses fluids from fever, vomiting or diarrhea, those fluids should be replaced.
What can you do to replace water losses to stay in good health?
- Eat foods that have a high-water content, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Drink fluids such as water or unsweetened beverages
- Drink water throughout the day: Consume water with meals, as well as between meals.
- Carry a refillable water bottle: Keep water handy, so it’s there when you want to reach for a drink.
- Add a flavor enhancer: For variety, squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice into your water, toss in a couple of cucumber slices or add a few fresh basil leaves.
- Choose water when eating out.
- Serve water during meals.
- Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water.
What foods are high to moderately high in water?
- Most beverages are high in water. Choose drinks like water, sparkling water, and fat-free milk.
- Fruits, especially cantaloupe, strawberries and watermelon bananas, grapes, oranges, pears, and pineapples.
- Vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach, cooked squash. carrots, cooked broccoli, and avocados.
- Dairy products like yogurt, cottage cheese, and ricotta cheese.
Mayo Clinic. (2022, August) Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256