TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Honolulu – Summertime in Hawaii, while beautiful, can put many people are at higher risk of dehydration. This is due to the hot climate and being more physically active. Other conditions that increase fluid needs include having a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. Many adults have issues with drinking water due to forgetting to hydrate, mistaking thirst sensations for hunger sensations, and/or reducing intake due to concerns about bladder control or issues with mobility.
Why drink water?
It is important to drink enough water in order to:
· keep a normal temperature;
· lubricate and cushion joints;
· protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues;
· aid in the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients;
· get rid of waste through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements;
· help with managing body weight and reducing caloric intake when substituted for drinks with excess calories like regular soda.
Not getting enough water throughout the day can lead to dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, mood changes, overheating, constipation, and kidney stones
What should I drink?
Prioritize Nutrient Density
Both the calories and nutrients of the fluids we drink are important considerations when choosing a healthful drink. Water is the best choice for hydration under normal conditions.
Beverages with calories should be consumed only to contribute beneficial nutrients. For example, fat free, 1% milk or fortified non-dairy milk alternatives without added sugars can fit in a healthful dietary pattern to help meet the Recommended Daily Allowance for calcium and vitamin D. Another example is 100% juice, however, due to the lack of fiber in this beverage versus whole fresh fruit, this should be chosen less often if possible.
Coffee, tea, and zero-calorie flavored waters are also options, but be careful to use little, if any, sweeteners or cream. Beverages like these, which contain caffeine, can increase urination, which can lead to dehydration. Soups, fruit, and vegetables also contain fluid that can help with hydration.
Limit or Avoid Added Sugars
Sugar-sweetened beverages and sweetened coffees and teas contribute to over 40% of daily intake of added sugars. Frequent consumption of beverages with added sugars can contribute to excessive caloric intake and can increase risk of chronic diseases.
It is recommended to avoid sugar-containing sports drinks unless you are engaging in physical activity for at least 90 minutes.
How much water should I drink?
Daily fluid intake or total water is defined as the amount of water consumed through foods, plain drinking water, and other beverages. Recommendations vary by age, sex, pregnancy, and breastfeeding status.
For most healthy adults, fluid needs are about 30-35 milliliters per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. For a 70 kilogram (154-pound) person, that's about 2100-2450 milliliters, or 70-82 ounces. Exercise, heat, having a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea can increase fluid needs.
When Should I Drink Water?
Drink water before you feel thirsty and before your urine becomes dark yellow. Pale yellow urine is a good goal. By the time you feel the sensation of thirst or when your urine is darker yellow, you are already behind in fluid replacement.
Water is best absorbed when sipped slowly throughout the day rather than chugged all at one time. Drinking 4-8 oz of water every hour for 16 hours would help meet a daily goal of 64-128 oz water daily. Drinking more than 48 oz in one hour can cause a medical emergency if the concentration of salt in the blood becomes too low.
How to Drink More Water
So you know you don’t drink enough water and you would like to increase your daily water intake. Asking yourself the following questions can help you to set a more achievable goal:
- How do YOU drink water? Is it when water is ice cold? Is it when water has some added flavor?
- How can you be more mindful to remember to drink water? Can you set an hourly reminder to drink 4-8 oz of water per hour? Can you write on a calendar how much water you've consumed?
- In a particular moment when you are having a craving, are you hungry? Are you thirsty?
The answers to these questions can help you to:
· Carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day.
· Choose water over sugary drinks.
· Choose water when eating out to save money and reduce calories.
· Flavor your water with citrus wedges, berries, and/or mint to help improve the taste and increase your typical water intake.
Get help with your goals
Meeting with a dietitian can help you meet your health and nutrition goals. Tripler Army Medical Center’s Outpatient Nutrition Clinic offers one-on-one virtual or face-to-face appointments and group classes. Ask your doctor for a nutrition consult or call Tripler’s Nutrition Clinic at 808-433-4950 to learn more.
• U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention