The term hydration refers to keeping enough water in your body to maintain health.
More than half of the human body is comprised of water. Water plays a critical role in our health by controlling body temperature and transporting oxygen and other essential nutrients to our cells. Throughout the day and night, we are constantly losing water through breathing, perspiring and through urine. When we stay adequately hydrated, we replenish the water we lose with fluids from beverages and foods and keep our bodies in balance.
How much fluid do I need to consume to stay hydrated?
How much fluid you need on any given day varies greatly based on your age, sex, weight – and other factors like how much you exercise, and how hot or cold it is. Basically, the more the active you are and the more you are exposed to heat or extreme cold, the more fluids you require.
According to the Institute of Medicine, men should consume, on average, 16 cups of fluids each day, and women should consume 12. Children and adolescents need slightly less, about 9-14 cups per day. Active individuals and the elderly should consume more fluids than the guidelines for the general population. But this does not mean you need to drink that much fluid. Fluid can also come from the water that is naturally found in foods. For example many fruits and vegetables are made up of more than half water.
Where can I get all the fluids I need?
Getting 12 or 16 cups of fluid every day may sound like a lot, but the food you eat provides about 20 percent of your total daily needs. The remaining 80 percent needs to come from water or other beverages like juices, milk, coffee, tea, sports drinks and soft drinks.
Do caffeinated beverages cause dehydration?
Consuming caffeine causes your body to lose a very small amount of water. However, the hydration benefits of coffee, tea and other beverages containing caffeine far outweigh this small effect. According to a report published by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (IOM), all beverages, including those with caffeine, contribute to hydration. Since regular soft drinks are 90 percent water and diet soft drinks with zero calories are 99 percent water, their findings make common sense.
Should I only drink when I’m thirsty?
Unfortunately, the 'thirst sensation' in humans is not a perfect indicator for the need for drinking. In fact, you are already beginning to be dehydrated when you feel thirsty. Therefore, it is recommended to drink before you’re thirsty and throughout the day to maintain proper hydration