Water, what is the Big Deal? Up to 60% of the adult human body is water. Everyone has heard the recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but how much of that is urban myth?
The Institute of Medicine recommends that women should consume about nine glasses of water daily and men should consume between 12 and 13 8 oz. glasses of water daily. Additionally, they recommend that children aged 4-8 should consume about 7 glasses of water daily, with more as needed. They specify that non-water beverages (i.e. fruit juice, tea, etc) can contribute to total water needs. Staying hydrated has many health benefits: it helps flush out toxins, provides a moist environment for cells, keeps you awake and replaces sweat losses. Unlike sugar sweetened beverages, water can provide all of these benefits without any added sugar or calories, making it the best choice for staying hydrated.
One obvious reason to choose water over sodas, fruit juices and sweetened teas is calorie content: water has no calories while sugar sweetened beverages can have upwards of a hundred calories in a single serving. A simple substitution of water instead of sugar sweetened drinks can help weight loss or maintenance. Also, water is the best thirst quencher.
While 8 glasses of water a day seems like a lot already, to meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation try having two glasses of water with each meal, with a glass in between meals. For the remaining 1-3 glasses, drink water before and after exercising, an hour before going to sleep or whenever you feel thirsty. Paying attention to thirst is the best indicator of hydration status; if you feel thirsty, you are probably not consuming enough liquid.
Use these tips to make drinking water more enticing:
To encourage water consumption for school-aged children, schools can have water fountains readily available, especially in areas of high activity and foot traffic. Additionally, staff should be encouraged to model healthy behaviors by bringing BPA-free water bottles and drinking water during the day. Friendly infographics can also encourage children to drink more water throughout their school day.
Unless you are suffering from kidney problems, too much water consumed throughout the day is not a bad thing! Try to meet the 9-12 glass a day recommendation and see how you feel.
Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride and sulfate. Institute of Medicine. Accessed March 10, 2014.
Muckelbauer, R., Sarganas, G., Gruneis, A., Mueller-Nordhorn, J. Association between water consumption and body weight outcomes: a systematic review. AmJCN. 2013: 98:2. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.055061.