Drink up because we've been told over and over how we need a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day (I prefer water bottles myself). This of course is an estimate and not all our fluid needs are met through water. In addition, some of us have higher fluid needs than others just based upon our body weight. For instance, the taller we are, the more we weigh, the more fluids we need compared to our shorter friends. So, let's take a look at how much we're really taking in, or the net amount I call it, after we have subtracted our dehydrating habits from the basic 8 recommendation. We'll have a little fun, but more importantly, let's drink a little more if we need to!
Let's start with our 8 glasses, assuming we really are drinking 8 glasses to start with and then subtract from the 8 glasses, if we
Drink coffee? Subtract one cup of water from our 8 for every cup of coffee (current research suggests that our body does adapt to caffeine and will not cause dehydration with regular consumption; however for our purposes let's still consider caffeine as a dehydration factor since the research is not conclusive).
Drink tea other than herbal? Subtract 1/2 cup of water from our 8 for every cup of tea. P.S. Green tea is not an herbal tea unless it states herbal on the label.
Drink soda with caffeine (this includes both diet and regular)? Subtract a cup of water from our 8 for every 10-12 ounces of soda.
Drink alcohol (last night for instance?)? Yep, subtract another cup of water from our 8 for every drink of hard liquor.
Exercise regularly for one hour or more? Subtract at least 2 cups of water for even moderate/light exercise from our 8. Keep in mind we will need more of water if we exercise longer or exercise more intensely, and/or if we sweat heavily. More water is required for outdoor exercise or exercise that is prolonged (hiking, or endurance events for example!) during humid weather.
Eight glasses of water per day is the general recommendation in addition to our other sources of fluids, but we may actually need more. Here's some questions to ask that if answered yes, may mean we need even more water.
Eat very few fresh fruits and raw veggies? The 8 glasses is the general guideline if we're taking in foods with medium to high water content and if we are taking in other fluids such as milk, juice, soups etc.
Follow a high protein diet with little or no carbs? If yes, think extra water too, since our kidneys need to work a bit harder requiring extra water to flush out unusable protein molecules.
Eat high sodium meals? Our body maintains a fluid balance range so that we need more water not less when we eat foods that are high in sodium. Don't think your food has a lot of salt? Okay, do you eat out regularly, eat prepared foods, fast foods, canned foods? And the list can go on and on!
Watch our Weight? Studies indicate that drinking more water helps us to maintain our weight possibly by filling us up (without permanently filling us out I'd like to add!).
Take medications? Our kidneys filter and flush out the metabolic products of medications so guess what, our kidneys will function better with extra water. Some medications may require more water than usual, so let's check with our doctor.
Have cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, etc.) Then drinking extra water is especially important. Have we eaten a high fat meal? Extra water will help to keep the blood volume flowing (reduces viscosity or blood thickness) for those of us at risk for an acute cardiovascular event.
Have extra fluid needs such as pregnancy or are we a new mom breastfeeding? Extra water is needed for the extra blood volume that accompanies pregnancy, and for the high fluid content of breast milk.
These are just a few of the reasons we may not be drinking enough or we may need extra water, especially now during a hot summer day. So, did we have 3 cups of coffee today, exercise for an hour and have a few summer drinks last night? How many cups of water did we have, and do we need to drink a bit more? I like to keep a pint size water bottle at my desk, sip and refill; this way I can keep track!
Need some short term "eat -healthier" or "restrict a few pounds" help? Contact me via reply to [email protected] for info on my new Telephonic Health & Weight Loss Coaching program. Individual sessions available as well. My book "It's NOT a Diet, it's Creative Eating!" available at http://www.amazon.com/Its-Not-Diet-Creative-Eating/dp/1432743597/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259605985&sr=1-1
Here's to the best hot weather drink, water so drink up!
June M Lay M.S.
Contact us for information on the new "10-week Personalized Get- in- Shape" Programs by emailing me or hit reply to this tip.
The information included here does not replace a physician's recommendations. Please seek your doctor's approval before beginning a new diet program especially if any pre-existing medical condition exists, or your diet excludes any one food group.
Sources used: Water, An Essential But Overlooked Nutrient, J Am Diet Assoc. 1999;99:200-206.
June is Lifestyle Columnist at www.healthnewsdigest.com/news/index.shtml
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