Water makes up about three quarters of your body, for good reason. Water is the body's transportation and sanitation system. It maintains blood volume, regulates temperature, keeps the tissues in the eyes and mouth functioning properly, it dissolves waste products and carries them out of the body, and it delivers nutrients from food to all the body's tissues. You could live for weeks without food, but only days without any water.
Sources of water
Aside from the obvious glass of water, you can also get this critical nutrient from food. Vegetables like lettuce, cucumber, tomato, sugar snap peas, and celery have a very high water content, which also makes them very low in calories but still high in nutrient value. Fruits like watermelon, cucumber and strawberries contain over 90% water by weight. Oranges, pineapples, papaya, salad greens and others, also have high water content. Broth based soups, milk, and juices do contain a high percentage of water.
Whenever possible, choose a whole fruit or vegetable over a juice. As an example, an orange contains healthy fiber that makes you feel full.
How much to drink?
You may have heard the oft-repeated rule that you should drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Although many factors influence how much fluid you really need, eight cups of water per day isn't a bad place to start. You will need more fluids if you work outdoors in the heat, if you exercise frequently, if you are pregnant or nursing a baby, or if you are recovering from an illness.
In addition to the eight cups of water guideline, you can also take a look at your urine: ideally, it should be a pale yellow color. Dark yellow or brown colors indicate that the waste products are highly concentrated, which can put a strain on your system.
Other indicators that you need to drink more include dry mouth, eyes, throat or nose, and chapped lips.
Tips to increase fluid consumption:
- Train yourself to have water at certain times. Whenever you get in the car, take a water bottle to drink along the way. You might have to stop after an hour for a washroom break, however stopping will also give you a chance to stretch your legs and stimulate circulation.
- Keep a bottle of water at your desk. Every time you send or receive an email, take a sip of water. Or, every time you get up to go to the washroom, take a drink when you return.
- Drink a glass of water while your coffee is brewing in the morning.
- Drink a glass of water before each meal.
Unfortunately, the sense of thirst that prompts us to drink can lag behind the body's actual need, so if you are feeling thirsty, the dehydration process is already in the works. In addition to thirst, you may experience dry, flushed skin, a lack of saliva, a loss of appetite, fatigue, lightheadedness, weakness, and chills.
The best way to avoid dehydration is to stay ahead of your thirst by sipping water continually throughout the day, especially when you are sick or in hot weather..