There is a lot about fluids and nutrition that you may not know. Most of us tend to think of the foods that we eat as the most important factor to nutrition. But fluids, especially water, play an equally important role in achieving healthy nutrition.

How Much Do You Really Need?

You’ve probably hear of the old saying that you should get at least 8 glasses of water each day. However, recent studies have focused more on the amount of fluids you should be consuming and not so much on just water.

The Institute of Medicine defines our fluid supply to mean water as well as other beverages, like coffee or tea or the liquids we get from consuming food. In total, women need 91 fluid ounces per day and men need 125 fluid ounces each day. On average, we get about 20% of our fluid from the food we eat so we need to get the other 80% by drinking water or other beverages.

The Role of Fluids

Our bodies are made up of 50-75% water. That sounds pretty incredible but not when you realize how much water we need to keep our blood flowing smoothly and to carry oxygen and other nutrients to cells. Fluids help our digestive juices work their magic on breaking down the food we eat. We need fluids for our saliva, tears, urine that flushes toxins from the body and for perspiration, which is the body’s cooling system.

Fluid is also found in lean muscles, fat and bone. Fluid in cells creates a gel-like substance that acts to absorb shocks for our spine, our eyes, and in the amniotic fluid for babies during pregnancy. We lose water everyday through perspiration and other bodily functions so we must take care to replace the lost water everyday to keep our bodies functioning at top performance.

Common Indicators To Know If We’re Getting Enough

Most of us use thirst as our body’s indicator to signal that we need more water or fluids. If you feel thirsty, your body’s fluid level is in the wrong direction and you should drink fluid immediately.

Other indicators include the color of your urine. Normal urine color is straw yellow. If you have darker yellow urine, it may indicate you need to drink more water but it can also mean you’ve ingested something with a color that has changed the color of the urine. Certain vitamins can do this as well.

Why You Should Get Drinking

Besides the bodily necessity and obvious benefits to consuming enough liquids daily, did you know that in developed countries with fluoridated water supplies, drinking water can actually help prevent tooth decay? Water itself serves to flush the mouth of food particles but does not actually prevent tooth decay the way that fluoride in the water helps build stronger teeth.

Clean water is critical to health. It’s not just important to have access to water every day. It is critical to our health that the water we drink is clean and safe. According to Water Aid, 50% of globally under-nutrition health problems can be linked to unclean and unsafe water supplies. A recent and serious example of this can be found in Flint, Michigan in which the city’s public water supply was contaminated and directly affected the health of the citizens who drank from the source.

Sources:

http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2004/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-Water-Potassium-Sodium-Chloride-and-Sulfate.aspx

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/water-a-vital-nutrient

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/04/us/flint-water-crisis-fast-facts/