Health Behavior Change Health Starts with Water
For decades throughout our clinical training, we've been told repeatedly that drinking water everyday promotes proper metabolism, nourishes cells, tissues, and organs, and prevents dehydration. After all, our bodies are 75% water. So, we teach anyone who'll listen to drink plenty of water to maintain a healthy balance. More specifically, adequate water intake:
After all, our bodies are 75% water. So, we teach anyone who’ll listen to drink plenty of water to maintain a healthy balance. More specifically, adequate water intake:
- · Aids in digestion
- · Promotes/maintains healthy skin
- · Lubricates and cushions joints
- · May prevent kidney stones
- · Prevents constipation
- · Regulates body temperature, to name a few
HOW WATER CONSUMPTION HAS CHANGED
More people today drink water than in the past. The Great Generation consumed colas, iced tea, and coffee, while the Baby Boomers consumed much the same. Millennials consumed all types of kool-Aid and popsicles in their school age years, while the Gen Xers have put the rest of us to shame by going full tilt on water, water, and more water to maintain a healthy lifestyle, sending the bottled water industry to heights never before reached.
How Much to Drink
You can research one source after another, and the amounts of water suggested that people should drink for overall good health varies. Some sources suggest absolutely 2 liters per day. With one liter being a quart and one quart being 4 cups; 2 liters is 8 cups per day(1). Using an 8-hour workday, a person would be drinking one cup (8 ounces) every hour. For some of us, that’s no less than swimming in water resulting in constant bathroom breaks and a lot of interrupted work or recreation time! And some us find water so tasteless or boring, it’s hard to get down in the first place!
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine of the United States has determined that an adequate daily fluid intake for men is approximately 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) and for women approximately 11.5 cups (2.7 liters)(2). These sources include food and other beverages besides water itself, stating that any recommended amount must be adjusted for a variety of factors, health conditions, and nutritional needs. That said, the general rule of thumb for water consumption is eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
Harvard Health suggests a 4-6 cup rule per day, stating how important is it to avoid dehydration(3)
FOR US CAMELS WHO RARELY, IF EVER, GET THIRSTY
For those of us who never or better yet, rarely get thirsty, what does this mean and what can we do to maintain a healthy level of hydration?
Rarely getting thirsty can indicate any number of things to be keenly aware of. Some good; some not so good!
- 1. You’re fully hydrated.
- 2. Your body has adjusted to its constant state of dehydration (Not a good thing!)
- 3. Older individuals may not have the sense of thirst they once had.
- 4. Adipsia, also known as hypodipsia, is a symptom of inappropriately decreased or absent feelings of thirst.
Given the importance of proper hydration, there are some things to consider that might help those of us who simply never think to stop and “get a drink of water!”
- 1. If taking oral medication, consider taking it with a full glass of water or two if not contraindicated.
- 2. Try a splash of citrus, mint, or lemon balm.
- 3. Drink herbal tea or coffee.
- 4. Set a reminder to drink water, especially if you routinely lack the desire.
- 5. Drink water gradually throughout the day.
- 6. Eat foods high in water content.
WHAT ARE THE FOODS HIGH IN WATER CONTENT?
The majority of foods on this list are at least 80% water and have nutritional and/or weight control benefits as well!
- 1. Cucumber
- 2. Tomatoes
- 3. Watercress
- 4. Apples
- 5. Celery
- 6. Lettuce
- 7. Watermelon
- 8. Peaches
- 9. Broth
- . . Zucchini
We all have varying hydration needs based on activity, exercise level, age, existing health conditions, and even the weather where we live. While scientists and healthcare providers may not always agree on how much water intake we need daily to attain and maintain a good measure of hydration, suffice it to say that maintaining hydration is a must for good health, and one for all of us to take to heart!
Melinda Huffman, BSN,MSN,CCNS,CHC
The National Society of Health Coaches