A question I am often asked is “How much water should you drink a day?” Although that is a simple question, it does not have an easy answer. Your body contains more water than anything else; about 60 percent of your total body weight. Water helps regulate your body temperature, transports nutrients and helps remove waste. Everyday you lose water when you breathe, sweat, urinate and defecate, and that water needs to be replenished.
How do you know if you’re drinking enough water? Most people can gauge their water intake by looking at urine color. If you are getting enough water, your urine will be pale yellow in color, and you’ll urinate several times a day. However, the urine color observation doesn’t apply to everyone. Taking dietary supplements that contain riboflavin will make your urine bright yellow and certain medications can change the color of your urine. If you have any kidney problems or other health conditions, you should talk to your health care provider about how much water to drink. About 20 percent of your water intake comes from the foods you eat. The remaining 80 percent comes from beverages including water, coffee, tea, milk and anything liquid.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy reviewed years of research evidence on adequate water intake and has the following recommendations:
Men: 13 cups (about 10.5 cups from beverages).
Women: 9 cups (about 7 cups from beverages).
Pregnant Women: 10 cups (about 8 cups from beverages).
Breastfeeding women: 13 cups (about 10.5 cups from beverages).
If you drink often you will eat less; choose calorie free fluids. Think about it— are you hungry or thirsty? Reward yourself with the many benefits of drinking water. Water is essential to good health. However, needs vary by individuals. As humans, we have a very poor thirst mechanism. Many times we go searching for food thinking that we are hungry, when we are really thirsty. We do not actually get thirsty until a percentage of our body is already dehydrated. Drinking water can help to control hunger during the day, prevent constipation, protect organs and tissues, and lubricate joints.
Lack of Water even causes you to feel tired and have no energy. With all these benefits of drinking water we need to think about drinking more, even if we don’t like water.
For more information, you may contact Lethia Lee with the Cooperative Extension office at 910-592-7161.
Leitha Lee is the EFNEP program assistant for the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center.