Water is the most prominent molecule in our body – H2O! It is seen by many as the miracle cure for numerous everyday problems; and I am one of those people.
We are 65-75% water (depending on which source you read). That makes it pretty darn important. So why is it that often we don’t get enough? I have heard all the excuses, but the most common is time. Either we don’t have time to drink or we don’t have time to go potty as a result of drinking enough.
Being well hydrated is essential for countless reasons. A few are: basic body functions, energy, mental alertness, regulating body temperature, dissolving nutrients for absorption in the gut, regular bathroom breaks (#1 and #2!), improved kidney function, flushing out wastes and toxins, and I could go on and on…
There are no signs or symptoms of mild dehydration. By the time most people feel thirsty they could be moderately dehydrated. Signs of clinical dehydration include: thirst, fatigue, headache, dry mouth, little or no urination, muscle weakness, dizziness and lightheaded.
The guidelines of eight 8oz glasses (64oz or 2 quarts) of water daily are the minimum! Many people need more. Women especially need more if they are lactating or pregnant. We can determine how many ounces we should be drinking by doing some simple math. The easiest method is to divide your body weight (lbs.) in half and then add 8oz of fluid (1 cup) for every 15mins of exercise. For example, if you weigh 150# and walk 30 minutes per day your math would look like this:
150 ÷ 2 = 75 + 16oz (8oz for each 15 mins) = 91 oz/d (11.4 cups per day)
What counts as water?
The best answer is water! After that, I recommend you also include non-caffeinated, no sugar added drinks with natural flavoring like lemon, lime and cucumber. One of my favorite products is "True Lemon". I don’t like to include caffeine containing drinks because although caffeine will not cause dehydration, it will not re-hydrate. It is neutral. If you choose to drink caffeinated drinks, that's fine but don't count it as part of your total fluid for the day. This may make some "pot-a-day" coffee drinkers a little upset with me. Sorry :(
I also do not include sugar containing drinks simply because there is little reason to ever include these in your diet. They offer no or little nutritional value. Now I am not talking about that half a teaspoon of honey in your herbal tea. I'm excluding the liquid candy (aka soda), your grandma's southern sweet tea and juice (100% juice or any of the "juice-like" beverages).
Food contains water too. So if you are having soup, fresh fruit, vegetables and salad greens you are getting some fluid from those. Do you really have to measure these foods to figure it out? Nah! Figure that if you plan to eat fresh foods and soup you can subtract a cup or two from the water you drink but, it's simpler to maintain your initial water goal each day than to try to justify missing 5 cups because you had a salad.
Lately, there's been a rise in the water cuisine. There are spring waters, alkaline water, pH waters, probiotic waters, seltzer waters, mineral waters and the list goes on. Unless specifically directed by your doctor or dietitian choose fancy water as desired. Beware of hidden sodium, additives, flavorings, sugar and any other undesirables.
Just plain ol' H2O for me please.