We’ve all heard our bodies are made up of 60% water. It regulates our body temperature, protects our spinal cord, helps our joints move smoothly, and so much more. It’s no wonder we need to drink water every day, but if you’re like most people, you’re probably not downing as much as you should.
Here’s what dietitians have to say about how much water you really need each day, and some ways you can sneak in hydration boosts if you’re not a big fan of the (admittedly plain) beverage.
Toss out the rule of 8s
Many of us grew up hearing you’re supposed to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. But it turns out that rule of thumb doesn’t really apply to everyone.
“Fluid needs vary based on age, gender, activity level, overall health and environment, and are also different for pregnant or breastfeeding women,” said Sara Falk, registered dietitian for the PATH employer wellness program at Baptist Health. “Generally, women need about 11.5 cups of water per day and men need about 15.5.”
Dehydration red flags
If your body’s water tank is running on E, here are the signs it’ll send you as a nudge to start sipping:
Overhyped hydration helpers
What about all the products — think sports drinks and so-called “hydration boosters” — that claim to do it better than water? Falk said there’s a time and place for those, but they’re not necessary for most people.
“These products are very high in sugar and sodium, and they’re only recommended in certain circumstances, like for a football player who has been practicing for several hours under the hot sun,” she said. “You don’t need to buy expensive supplements, sports drinks, or pH-balanced electrolyte water. We can get our essential minerals from the foods we eat.”
The perks of fresh produce
Falk added staying healthy and hydrated is about what you eat as well as drink. That’s great news for folks who just can’t choke down that much plain old water.
“We receive a lot of our daily fluids — about 20% — from the foods we eat. Fruits and vegetables are some of the biggest sources: watermelon, strawberries and oranges are the top hydrating fruits, respectively, and cucumbers, carrots and celery are the top hydrating vegetables. Broth-based soups are also a great food to eat to get added hydration,” she said.
Fruits and vegetables also happen to contain the four main electrolytes the body needs to stay hydrated: sodium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium. Eating a well-rounded diet that includes fruits and veggies each day goes a long way in making sure your body has adequate hydration.
Do you have questions about healthy eating habits? The Y Healthy Living Centers, in partnership with medical experts from Baptist Health, provide health coaching at locations throughout the community. Once you’ve chosen the most convenient location for you, you can request a free health screening online.