The Wonders of Water

The New Fluid Guidelines

In February 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued new recommendations. The new guidelines remove the eight-glasses-a-day recommendation, and say healthy adults may use thirst to determine their fluid needs. Exceptions to this rule include anyone with a medical condition requiring fluid control; athletes; and people taking part in prolonged physical activities or whose living conditions are extreme.

How Much Is Enough?

The IOM report made general fluid intake recommendations of 91 ounces (that’s 11-plus cups a day) for women and 125 ounces (15-plus cups a day) for men. These guidelines are for total fluid intake, including fluid from all food and beverages.

Approximately 80% of our water intake comes from drinking water and other beverages, and the other 20% comes from food. The recommended amount of beverages, including water, would be approximately 9 cups for women and 12.5 cups for men.

When You Need More

Physical activity, heat, and humidity can increase our fluid needs. In these situations, keep water bottles close at hand and drink frequently to avoid dehydration. If you’re going to be physically active for long periods, consider sports drinks that hydrate and provide easily usable sugar and electrolytes.

Water and Weight Control

The weight loss benefits of water stem from several facts:

  • Foods that incorporate water tend to look larger.
  • The higher volume of these foods provides greater oral stimulation.
  • Most important, when water is bound to food, it slows down absorption and lasts longer in the belly.

Bottom Line

The experts agree: Drinking water – either sparkling or flat and perhaps with a twist of citrus – is a great, noncaloric way to satisfy your thirst. But if you struggle with drinking water, you’re off the hook as long as you:

  • Enjoy plenty of high-volume foods, including fruits and vegetables.
  • Satisfy your thirst with a variety of healthy, low-calorie beverages such as 100% fruit juice, skim or low-fat milk, tea, and, of course, water.

Pay attention to signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth and concentrated urine, which indicate a need for more liquids.

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