A human body cannot survive without water. Every cell, tissue and organ in the body needs water to work properly. As examples, the body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate the joints. Water is needed for overall good health.Path to Improved Wellness
A person must drink water every day. People are generally told to drink 6 to 8, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. That is a reasonable goal. However, different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. Most healthy people can stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some people, fewer than 8 glasses may be enough. Other people may need more than 8 glasses each day. If you are concerned that you are not drinking enough water, check your urine. If your urine is usually colourless or light yellow, then you are well hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow or amber colour, you may be dehydrated. Water is best for staying hydrated. There are other drinks and foods can help you stay hydrated, but some may add extra calories from sugar to your diet. Fruit and vegetable juices, milk and herbal teas add to the amount of water you take each day. Even caffeinated drinks (for example, coffee, tea, and soda) can contribute to your daily water intake. A moderate amount of caffeine (200 to 300 milligrams) is not harmful for most people. This is about the amount in 2 to 4, 8-ounce cups of coffee. However, it’s best to limit caffeinated drinks. Caffeine may cause some people to urinate more frequently, or feel anxious or jittery.
Water is also found in fruits and vegetables (e.g. watermelon, tomatoes, lettuce etc) and in soup broths.
Sports drinks can be helpful if you are planning to exercise at higher than normal levels for more than an hour. They contain carbohydrates and electrolytes that can increase one’s energy. This helps the body to absorb water. However, some sports drinks are high in calories from added sugar. They also may contain high levels of sodium (salt). Check the serving size on the label. One bottle usually contains more than one serving. Some sports drinks contain caffeine, too. Remember that a safe amount of caffeine to consume each day is between 200 and 300 mg (milligrams).
Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks. Energy drinks usually contain large amounts of caffeine. One needs to be aware that most energy drinks contain ingredients that overstimulate the body (e.g. guarana, ginseng or taurine). The body does not need these ingredients. Most of these drinks are also high in added sugar. Scientific advice is that children and teens should not drink energy drinks.
If staying hydrated is difficult for you, here are some tips that can help:
- Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. To reduce costs, carry a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water.
- If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to the water.
- Drink water before, during and after a workout.
- When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan. Some research suggests that drinking water can help you feel full.
- If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner and when you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour.
- Drink water when you go to a restaurant. It will keep you hydrated – and it’s free!
Things to consider
Recognizing signs of dehydration is important. They include:
- Little or no urine.
- Urine that is darker than usual.
- Dry mouth.
- Sleepiness or fatigue.
- Extreme thirst.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- No tears when crying.
Don’t wait until you notice symptoms of dehydration to take action. Actively prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water.
Some people are at higher risk of dehydration, including people who
- exercise at a high intensity (or in hot weather) for too long
- have certain medical conditions (kidney stones, bladder infection)
- are sick (fever, vomiting, diarrhea)
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
- are trying to lose weight
- are not able to get enough fluids during the day.
Older adults are also at higher risk. As a person gets older, their brain may not be able to sense dehydration. The brain may not send signals for thirst.
Water makes up more than half of one’s body weight. Water is lost each day when one goes to the bathroom, sweats or even simply by breathing. Water is lost even faster when the weather is really hot, when one is physically active or if one has a fever. Vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to rapid water loss. If one does not replace the water that is lost, one can become dehydrated.
It is important to stay hydrated and drink water!