Hydration – Its importance and benefits

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We keep hearing this from everyone around “Stay Hydrated”, “Drinks lots of water”. It our answer to everything these days, one is crying “here, have water!” one is angry, “shh, calm down, have water!” a swear headache “drink water”, sore throat and flu “have fluids”. Water is an essential part of our being. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) currently recommends that men should drink at least 104 ounces of water per day, which is 13 cups and women should drink at least 72 ounces, which is 9 cups. Even still, the answer to exactly how much water you should drink isn’t so simple.

While the eight glasses rule is a good start, it isn’t based on solid, well-researched information. Your body weight is made up of 60 percent water. Every system in your body needs water to function. Your recommended intake is based on factors including your sex, age, activity level, and others, such as if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Daily recommended amount of water (from drinks)

children 4–8 years old = 5 cups, or 40 total ounces
children 9–13 years old = 7–8 cups, or 56–64 total ounces
children 14–18 years old = 8–11 cups, or 64–88 total ounces
men, 19 years and older = 13 cups, or 104 total ounces
women, 19 years and older = 9 cups, or 72 total ounces
pregnant women = 10 cups, or 80 total ounces
breastfeeding women = 13 cups, or 104 total ounces

Other considerations

– You may also need to drink more water if you live in a hot climate, exercise often, or have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting.
– Add an additional 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water each day if you exercise. You may need to add even more if you work out for longer than an hour.
– You may need more water if you live in a hot climate.
– If you live at an elevation greater than 8,200 feet above sea level, you may also need to drink more.
– When you have a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea, your body loses more fluids than usual, so drink more water. Your doctor may even suggest adding drinks with electrolytes to keep your electrolyte balance more stable.

Why do you need water?

Water is important for most processes your body goes through in a day. When you drink water, you replenish your stores. Without enough water, your body and its organs can’t function properly.

Benefits of drinking water include:
•keeping your body temperature within a normal range
•lubricating and cushioning your joints
•protecting your spine and other tissues
•helping you eliminate waste through urine, sweat, and bowel movements

Drinking enough water can also help you look your best. For example, water keeps your skin looking healthy. Skin is your body’s largest organ. When you drink plenty of water, you keep it healthy and hydrated. And because water contains zero calories, water can be an excellent tool for managing your weight, as well.

Dehydration

Your body is constantly using and losing fluids through actions like sweating and urinating. Dehydration happens when your body loses more water or fluid than it takes in. Symptoms of dehydration can range from being extremely thirsty to feeling fatigued. You may also notice you aren’t urinating as frequently or that your urine is dark. In children, dehydration may cause a dry mouth and tongue, lack of tears while crying, and fewer wet diapers than usual.

Dehydration may lead to:
•confusion or unclear thinking
•mood changes
•overheating
•constipation
•kidney stone formation
•shock

Staying hydrated goes beyond just the water you drink. Foods make up around 20 percent of your total fluid requirements each day. Along with drinking your 9 to 13 daily cups of water, try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

Some foods with high water content include:
•watermelon
•spinach
•cucumbers
•green peppers
•berries
•cauliflower
•radishes
•celery

Tips for drinking enough water
•Try carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go, including around the office, at the gym, and even on road trips.
•Focus on fluids. You don’t have to drink plain water to meet your hydration needs. Other good sources of fluid include milk, pure fruit juices, tea, and broth.
•Skip sugary drinks. While you can get fluid from soda, juice, and alcohol, these beverages have high calorie contents. It’s still smart to choose water whenever possible.
•Drink water while out to eat. Drink a glass of water instead of ordering another beverage. You can save some cash and lower the total calories of your meal, too.
•Add some flair to your water by squeezing in fresh lemon or lime juice.
•If you’re working out hard, consider drinking a sports drink that has electrolytes to help replace the ones you lose through sweating.

Sources: Article adopted from: http://www.healthline.com/health/how-much-water-should-I-drink#tips6, https://www.nap.edu/read/10925/chapter/6, https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/plain-water-the-healthier-choice.html, http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/ffl/newsletter/hydrating-through-fruits-and-veggies

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