Water is essential for our well-being. In fact, our bodies are made up of 50 to 60 percent water. It is continually used as our body functions, which makes it important to ensure it’s replenished. The correct balance of water and electrolytes determines how well our body runs; this includes our nerves and muscles. Staying hydrated removes waste through urine, controls body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, and helps maintain a healthy metabolism.
For years, we’ve been told to drink eight, eight ounce glasses of water each day. Turns out there isn’t much science behind that recommendation. But, before you put down your water bottle, there’s plenty to back up why it’s needed. In fact, we all need about one milliliter of fluid per calorie we eat. For example, if you follow a 1,600 calorie diet, you need almost seven cups of fluid per day. And, if you follow a 2,000 calorie diet, you need a little over eight cups of fluid per day. That age-old rule of eight glasses a day isn’t too far off the mark. Even more, our fluids can come from a variety of beverages, including those that contain caffeine. The diuretic effect of the caffeine is mild compared to the fluid provided. Want more good news? Your fluid intake doesn’t stop at what fills your cup. We can also get our fluids from foods such as soups, yogurt, fruits and vegetables.
Even though fluids can be found in a wide variety of sources, the liquid source is your best option. You should drink enough so that you go to the bathroom every two to four hours and your urine should be light in color. Dark urine is an indicator that you most likely need to drink more. Everyone is unique and certainly your size, calorie intake, activity level and type of environment you live and work in will determine how much fluid you need.
Add Wow to your Water
When it comes to beverages, water is a great calorie-free thirst quencher. Check out these ideas to add some “WOW” to your water without adding a lot of sugar and calories.
- Add the traditional lemon or lime for a little fresh zing.
- Drink fruit infused water. Add fruit to your glass of water or use special water bottles and pitchers that hold fruit and water. These can be purchased at a variety of stores.
- Freeze fruit juice in ice cube trays. Add the frozen fruit cubes to water in place of ice cubes.
- Add a packet of True Lemon and a spoonful of instant unsweetened tea to 16 ounces of water.
- Add a small amount of cherry juice and an optional lime.
- Make green iced tea: Boil four cups of water in a kettle and leave for a few minutes so the temperature naturally drops to no less than 195°F. Add three to five green teabags to a heat-proof pitcher and pour in the water. Leave to brew for one to five minutes. Remove teabags and add a little sugar if desired. Stir in six cups of ice cubes until melted, or use four cups of cold water. Add freshly sliced lemon to taste. Keep refrigerated and drink within 24 hours.
Becky Westereng is a registered dietitian at Altru Health System. She is a diabetes educator and certified in sports nutrition. Becky is especially interested in helping people improve their eating and exercise habits by encouraging small steps and a positive attitude. She enjoys spending time with her husband and watching her three children perform music and play sports, while finding time to stay active herself.