One Small Change: Keep Fluids in Check

One Small Change: Keep Fluids in Check

By Gail Watson, contributing blogger

It’s often said that you need to consume 8 glasses of water a day or risk dehydration, but how true is that? The answer may surprise you.

An important Nutrient
We don’t always think of it this way, but water is a nutrient, and an important one too. Water is essential for maintaining our cells, tissues and organs. It helps regulate our body temperature, lubricates our joints and is part of the system that removes waste from our body through urination, perspiration and bowel movements.

Thirst = Dehydration: Fact or Myth?
How many times have you heard, “If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated”? The latest Institute of Medicine guidelines states that healthy adults should use their sense of thirst to determine fluid needs. However, there’s no need to be concerned about severe dehydration associated with these signals to drink.  In order to reach the level of true dehydration, you would need to lose a lot of water. By definition, dehydration occurs when a person loses 2% or more of their body weight in water. That kind of loss for a 150-pound person equates to 6 cups, or a quart and a half of water.

The exceptions to this rule includes folks with medical needs requiring monitored fluid intake, seniors whose thirst mechanism may be compromised with age, and those partaking in prolonged physical activities, especially in a warm environment. In these cases fluid intake should be monitored and consumed regularly.

Is 8 Glasses a Day Accurate?
We’ve heard the advice to drink 8 glasses of water a day, and I know a lot of people who confess guilt for not making the daily mark. The fact is: fluid intake is a personal thing. The amount of fluid you need depends on many factors, such as the climate you live in, your size, activity level, and diet. All fluids, including those found in fruits, vegetables, soups and beverages, including coffee and tea, count towards your daily intake. Many worry about caffeine causing dehydration. Though it’s true that caffeine is a mild diuretic, it turns out that the fluid in your cup of coffee will help offset any fluid loss.

A Tall Drink of Water
When reaching for a drink, water is still the optimal choice. A refreshing glass is the best way to slake your thirst without adding unnecessary sugars or calories. Start your day with a glass; it may help you perk up. No need for specialty waters either, just a nice cold glass from the tap will do- plus it’s free!

This week’s goal: Be aware of your thirst cues

Check in on your fluid levels over the week. There are some physical cues you may experience when your body’s in need of water. These cues include headaches, fatigue, and lack of concentration and can indicate mild dehydration. When you’re hydrated, the urine is pale yellow to light straw color. If you’re feeling sluggish, try adding a glass of water to your morning and see if that helps, or carry a water bottle with you and sip throughout the day.

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  • Bob
    Posted at 14:56h, 06 July Reply

    The simplest way to know if you need more water is to drink it until your urine is clear. Once you run clear you’re properly hydrated, eventually you’ll get to know how it feels to be in this state and you’ll know when you’re dry. For me, I know I need water when my saliva is thick.

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