Mary Ann Lienhart Cross, CED
Extension Educator-Health & Human Sciences
Purdue Extension Elkhart County
September 13, 2013
Release September 16, 2013
Please Drink Your Water
Every time I present a program on “MyPlate,” “Senior Nutrition,” or any topic on food preparation or nutrition, I share about the need we all have for more water consumption. As I was presenting a program it was brought to my attention that First Lady Michelle Obama was making the media circuit sharing the message that we all need to “Drink Up.” So I am also reminding you for so many reasons.
Water is the most vital nutrient you need! So, you may ask, “How much water does my body need?” Health authorities recommend that sedentary adults in comfortable temperatures should drink 6 to 8 cups, which is 1-1/2 to 2 quarts of water daily. To maintain water balance, water exits via lungs, skin, feces and urine. Urine accounts for about 1 to 1-1/2 quarts of loss; the rest is divided among the other three with the amounts shifting according to temperature, humidity, physical activity, age, size, diet, and disease.
Your water balance helps maintain your dietary minerals and their salts. Sodium, chloride, potassium and phosphate are the main mineral balancers with sodium acting outside the cells and potassium and phosphate inside the cells. Chloride shifts easily between the two.
You have a built in water gauge. Do you have any idea what it is? It is thirst, but it is not always reliable especially after we have been out in the hot sun and have lost a lot of perspiration. Symptoms of dehydration are reduced elasticity in the skin, dry mouth and lips, sunken eyes, little saliva, crying with few tears, infrequent urination and dark yellow urine. Of course these symptoms may result from other causes such as drugs.
A problem with many people is that their bodies are short of water. Remember we all need at least 6 to 8 cups of water per day. Children’s bodies are naturally high in water. A few hours of vomiting or severe diarrhea in anyone, but particularly children, requires medical attention. When compared to an adult, a feverish or overheated infant can lose more water by evaporation from their proportionately larger surface area. Because infants are much more likely to get too little rather than too much water, they should be offered water often even if they are only drinking milk. This is especially important if they are sick or exposed to overheating.
Those of you who are elderly may not realize you need as much water as you do. Your sense of thirst is often blunted and even mild stresses from fever and infection, diarrhea, and the practice of withholding fluids is dangerous. In addition, you should not voluntarily reduce water intake because going to the bathroom is difficult. Attention to water needs can prevent many hospitalizations.
No matter where any of you are, you need to drink your 1-1/2 to 2 quarts of water every day. Some health authorities suggest much more than the half gallon. There is also discussion about all the other fluids that you drink being considered as a part of your water. Some authorities say they count and other say they do not. A lot depends on what is in the other beverages such as sugar, caffeine, artificial sweetener, salt and other ingredients.
It just makes good sense to drink more water and this should be a part of your healthy habits. Remember if you are thirsty you are already somewhat dehydrated. For most of you the only way to drink the water you need is to carry it with you. So here is to more water drinking! ###
Purdue University is an affirmative action, equal access/equal opportunity institution.