Water and Your Body

How Much Water Do You Really Need??

You’ve probably heard that you need to drink 8 cups of water a day, but is that too much, not enough, or just right?

Why is water so important?

Water is one of the most important elements for all living things. Up to 60 percent of your body is made of water. It is essential for biochemical reactions, transporting nutrients throughout the body and removing waste, and maintaining blood circulation and body temperature. It aids digestion, prevents constipation, cushions our joints, stabilizes the heartbeat, and protects our organs and tissues. 

Without enough water, we can become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, lightheadedness, constipation, kidney stones, and headaches. Severe dehydration can result in confusion, kidney failure, heart problems, and possibly death. 

There is no standard for how much water adults should drink daily, though there are general recommendations for both women and men. Here’s one rule of thumb: women should drink approximately 11.5 cups of water each day while men should average 15.5 cups of total water. You can also divide your body weight in pounds by two and drink that number of ounces each day. These estimates include fluids consumed from foods and beverages. You typically get about 20% of the water you need from the food you eat. Taking that into account, women need about 9 cups of water per day, and men need about 12.5 cups a day. 

Certain conditions may increase fluid needs further, such as increased sweating and higher altitudes. Illnesses such as fever and diarrhea may also promote additional water losses.

How do you know if you are getting enough water?

A good measurement of hydration is the color of your urine. Pale urine, like the color of straw, indicates proper hydration while darker urine is a sign that you need more water. A dark yellow or amber color means you may have mild to severe dehydration.

Ways to increase water intake:
  • Choose water with your meals
  • Carry a refillable water bottle. Keep water handy so it’s there when you want to reach for a drink. 
  • Don’t “stock the fridge” with soft drinks. Instead, keep a jug or bottles of cold water or unsweetened tea in the fridge.
  • Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon, or drink sparkling water.
  • Add a splash of 100% juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink. 
  • Include foods high in water. Fruits such as cantaloupe, strawberries, and watermelon and vegetables like lettuce, celery, spinach, and squash have a 90-100% water content. 

Here is a recipe for a refreshing Aguas Frescas de Frutas – fresh fruit water. Popular in Latin American, these fruit drinks are made from pureed fruit and a splash of sparkling water that adds the “fizz.” Customize the fruit to your preference and take advantage of fresh fruit in season or keep frozen berries on hand to use. 

Ingredients

8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled, or other berries
1 cup cubed ripe melon (cantaloupe, honeydew and/or watermelon)
2 cups ice-cold water
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil or mint leaves
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste (optional)*
Ice cubes
8 ounces club soda or tonic water 

Directions

  • Combine strawberries, melon, water, and basil or mint in a blender. Whirl to liquefy. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes to allow basil or mint to infuse fruit puree with flavor.
  • Pour into a 1-quart pitcher. Add lemon juice and sugar, as desired. (If sugar is added, stir to dissolve.)
  • To serve, put ice into four glasses. Pour the fruit mixture over ice. Add 2 ounces tonic water or club soda to each.
  • Serve immediately. Pureed fruit may settle, and that’s okay!

(Adapted from a recipe on www.eatright.org)

 

Forge is delighted to partner with Laura Rutledge, MA, RDN, CSO, a Registered Dietician Nutritionist who focuses on oncology nutrition for Cooking with Laura focuses on nutrition during and after cancer diagnosis and treatment. For more information and recipes from Laura check out Nourishing Plate

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