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Family and Consumer Sciences Education: How Much Water Do You Need?

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   Water is Essential to Life

   About 60 percent of your body is made of water. It plays a role in keeping all of your body systems working well. Staying well hydrated can help reduce your risk of developing kidney stones, urinary tract infections and constipation.

   The Risks of Dehydration and Overhydration

    If you lose more water than you take in, your body can become dehydrated. Dehydration can wreak havoc on your body, causing headaches, dizziness or digestion problems. Mild dehydration may impact your mood, memory or how well you’re able to process information. These symptoms often go away once your body gets rehydrated. Medical attention is often needed with severe dehydration, since it can lead to more serious problems such as confusion, kidney failure, heart problems and possibly death.

   It is also possible to become overhydrated. Although this is not as common, athletes and individuals with certain medical conditions may be at higher risk for overhydration. Symptoms of severe overhydration are often similar to dehydration and may also require medical attention. For example, confusion and seizures can occur. Individuals participating in long stretches of physical activity, such as marathons, often need to replace both water and sodium losses. In these events, a hydration schedule is usually followed, and beverages such as sports drinks may be recommended.

   Fluid Needs Vary

   Many factors impact how much water you need, including your age, gender, activity level, and overall health. Women require more water during pregnancy and while they are breastfeeding.

   For women, the amount of total water is about 11.5 cups per day and for men about 15.5 cups. These estimates, however, include fluids consumed from both foods and beverages, including water. You typically get about 20% of the water you need from the food you eat. Taking that into account, women need about nine cups of fluid per day and men about 12.5 cups in order to help replenish the amount of water that is lost.

   Sources of Water

   Enjoy a variety of beverages, as well as eating foods that have a high-water content, such as fruits and vegetables. For drinks, focus on unsweetened beverages, like water, in order to limit calories from added sugars.

   Ways to Increase Water

•Opt for water

•Drink water throughout the day

•Carry a refillable water bottle

•Add a fruit slices to your water

   Foods That Are High in Water

   Options with a 90-100% water content include:

•Cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes, oranges, watermelon, pears and pineapple.

•Vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach and cooked squash.

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