Water is a major life source of the human body. Second only to oxygen, water is among the body’s primary needs, required more than food since you can survive weeks without eating but only a few days without water.
Every system in your body relies on water to run smoothly. Water transports nutrients and oxygen to cells, aids in food digestion, regulates your body temperature, and removes wastes and toxins from your body. Water prevents constipation, cushions your joints, protects organs and tissues and cools down the body.
With so many important functions, it’s no wonder you need to drink plenty of water. But how much do you need to drink daily to maintain good health? While thirst is the body’s natural alert that you need more water, experts say it’s not enough. “Your thirst doesn’t tell you exactly what to drink,” says Dr. Kenneth G. Berge, a physician, to the Mayo Clinic Health Oasis publication. “It just tells you that you’re thirsty.”
The rule of thumb is eight 8-ounce glasses of water, or about two quarts a day (half that amount for children). But experts say that figure can increase depending on your body size, the temperature outside or your level of activity. In general, drink more than the recommended amount of water if you are experiencing any dehydrating conditions, such as hot, humid or cold weather, high altitudes or physical exertion.
According to the American Medical Association, the best way to meet your daily water quota is by drinking plain water. Yet it informs that beverages like fruit juices, milk and caffeine-free drinks are also good water sources. Fruits and vegetables also provide the water your body needs, especially lettuce, watermelon, broccoli and grapefruit, which have a high water content.
Beware of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, however, since they contain diuretics that cause the body to lose water. Also, regarding the tap water-bottled water debate, experts say that most people’s tap water is fine, and if your water doesn’t meet safety standards, the Environmental Protection Agency requires public suppliers to notify you.
“Without proper hydration, the body is exposed to a variety of health risks,” warns Barbara Levine, director of the nutrition department at Rockefeller University, in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
To make sure you get your daily dose of water, try drinking a glass of water when you wake up and one at bedtime. Have water with your meals instead of soda and coffee, and zest it up with a twist of lemon or lime to make it more palatable. Keep a water bottle nearby during the day, or take regular water breaks to keep your body healthy and hydrated.