The human body needs fluid to function, but you may not need eight glasses of water a day to get the proper amount for your body.
According to data from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, an adult male needs 15.5 cups of fluid daily, and an adult female needs 11.5 cups. While water is a key source of that fluid, you can also get those important liquids from food and other beverages.
“Even that morning cup of coffee can count as part of your daily fluid intake,” said Crystal Rodriguez, PA-C, of Samaritan Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic – Corvallis. “I think that may be welcome news to those who struggle to drink the often-recommended eight glasses of water a day.”
It’s not just that favorite morning beverage that helps, but all the fluid we take in, noted Rodriguez.
“Whether the water we ingest comes from a juicy orange, a bowl of soup, a cup of tea, a diet soda or a glass of water – it all counts in the amount the body needs. In fact, statistics show that about 20% of the water our body gets each day comes from food, and the rest from drinks, so drinking water is still important,” said Rodriguez.
Why Does the Body Need Fluids?
Water makes up 50% to 70% of the body’s total weight and is something we simply cannot live without.
“Fluids help to keep body temperature normal, remove waste and toxins, lubricate and cushion joints and protect delicate tissue,” Rodriguez explained. “Because of this vital role to health, we want to make healthy decisions in our fluid choices to ensure we’re fueling up on the nutrients we need. So, avoid sugary drinks, excessive caffeine and alcohol, and continue to drink water. Any kind of water is fine -- tap, sparkling, cold or hot – whatever you like best.”
Other healthy options can include herbal teas, milk, 100% juice, and high-water-content fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, tomatoes, applesauce and lettuce salad. You could also make ice cubes from 100% juice to add to a plain glass of water for a subtle flavor.
How Much Water You Need Depends
Despite the guidelines for how much fluid the average healthy adult needs, there are times when a person may need more.
“Even as we’re taking in fluid throughout the day, our bodies are also losing fluids through urination, bowel movements, breath and sweat. There are times when we really need to pay attention to how much fluid we are losing so we can replenish that fluid accordingly,” Rodriguez said.
When to Drink More Water
- Hot weather – When the temperature spikes, we sweat more, even at the pool or beach. Be sure and carry water with you to drink throughout the day as you lose fluids. “When we lose fluids faster than we replenish them, dehydration becomes a major concern,” explained Rodriguez. “Watch for signs of dehydration, such as fatigue, lightheadedness, headache, muscle aches and more. Try to get out of the heat and drink water. If symptoms worsen or do not get better or resolve, seek immediate medical attention.”
- Exercise – Again, increased sweating means increased fluid loss. Drink water before, during and after exercise to keep your body fully hydrated.
- Sickness – The body loses fluids with fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Try to keep drinking fluids or follow your doctor’s advice on using rehydration solutions. Bladder infections and other urinary tract issues can also require taking in more fluids.
- Pregnancy – When pregnant or breastfeeding, a person may need additional fluids to stay fully hydrated.
Most of all, pay attention to your thirst.
“Thirst is still the best indication your body needs to replenish fluids,” Rodriguez said. “But the signal for thirst can diminish with age, so I recommend you drink water or another healthy beverage with each meal and throughout the day. If you tend to forget to drink water, consider setting a timer to remind yourself.”
Get ideas for drink and treats you can make at home to stay hydrated and refreshed.
Crystal Rodriguez, PA-C, sees patients at Samaritan Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic – Corvallis. To reach her, call 541-768-4970.