Water makes up about 60 % of your total body mass and is your body’s main chemical component. Every system in your body is dependent on water. Water helps to flush out toxins from your vital organs, helps in transporting nutrients to your body’s cells and helps provide a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues. If your body does not get enough water, dehydration can occur because your body does not get enough water to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can sap your energy levels and make you feel exhausted.
How Much Water Do You Require
Every day you lose water through breathing, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function well, you must replace the body’s water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. Let us look at how much fluid a healthy adult living in India needs. The Institute of Medicine determines that the AI (Adequate Intake) for men is about 3 Litres (about 13 cups) of total beverages in a day. The AI for women is 2.2 litres ( about 9 cups).
What About the Advice of Drinking 8 Glasses of Water a Day
We have all heard this advice growing up. Calculated in total, the water intake for 8 glasses of water comes up to 1.9 litres which is not far off the mark from the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations. Ideally you can rephrase the term to be reframed as, “Drink atleast 8 glasses of fluid in a day”, because it is the total amount of fluid intake that matters.
You will also need to modify your fluid intake depending upon your lifestyle and how active you are during the day, the environment and climactic conditions, your health status and if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Let us look at these factors in greater detail.
If you exercise or engage in activity that makes you perspire, you will need to consume extra water – about 400 to 600 millilitres which is about 1.5 to 2.5 cups. Do remember that intense exercise such as Marathon running, long distance cycling which are activities lasting more than an hour will require more water intake. During long bouts of intense exercise, try and use a sports drink that contains sodium which will help you to replace the sodium that is lost in sweat. Replenish your water intake post exercise also.
If you live in hot and humid surroundings then you need more fluid to balance the fluids lost through sweat. If you are in altitudes greater than 8,200 ft (2,500 meters) you may breathe more heavily and urinate more leading to more loss of your fluid reserves.
When you suffer from fever, vomiting and diarrhea your body will lose more reserves of water. In such times, you should be drinking more water. Oral rehydration solutions like Powerade and Gatorade can also help. On the other hand conditions that may require decreased fluid intake due to impaired excretion of water are: bladder infections, urinary tract stones, heart failure, kidney, liver and adrenal diseases.
Expectant or breast-feeding mothers may require additional fluids in order to stay hydrated. A lot of fluids are required for nursing mothers. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 2.3 litres (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and breastfeeding women drink 3.1 litres (about 13 cups).
Other Sources of Water
Although water should be on hand around you all the time, you do not only need water to meet your daily fluid needs. Your solid foods can also provide a significant amount of your fluid needs. Your meals will be provide about 20 % of your total water intake. Fruits and vegetables like watermelon and tomatoes are 90% water by weight.
Beverages like milk and juice are also composed mostly of water. Beer, wine and caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee and colas can also contribute to your daily water intake. But these beverages should not be a major part of your daily fluid intake. Water is and will always remain your best bet because it is free of calories, cheap and easily available.
Although rare, it is also important to sound a note a caution here for overzealous people. It is possible to drink too much water. When your kidneys can’t excrete the excess water, the electrolyte content (mineral content) of your blood is diluted which results in low sodium levels in the blood. This is a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes such as marathon runners are at a higher risk of this condition.
The ideal condition for you body is to for you to drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirst and you produce 1.5 litres or more of colourless or light yellow urine per day. If you are concerned about your current fluid intake, come and visit me. I will help you determine the right amount of water intake.
Author – Krupa Parekh
Krupa is a dietician and nutritionist based in Mumbai and consults at our Andheri West Centre for our clients in Diabetes and Obesity Management, Detoxification therapy and specializes in creating bespoke Nutrition plans for kids, teenagers and adults by integrating correct food habits around one’s lifestyle. Read more about Krupa here – http://www.wellintra.com/diet-and-nutrition/. You can call on 98206 07875 for weight gain or weight loss diet consultation with Krupa.