By Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP
Sixty years ago, I could never imagine in my lifetime that we would pay for a bottle of water. Back then in Macau, water was the most undesirable drink that you could offer to a kid. A treat was, this is still very fresh in my memory, to go to the corner store down the end of the street and buy a cup of cold red colored sweet drink. Wow, what a treat that was – for a kid who had no refrigerator at home, an icy sugary drink was a luxury. That was one of the best ways to spend the 5 cents that I had. The next luxury item as a teenager was drinking Coca Cola. You see, when you have money to buy Coke, you belong to a bigger league.
Even in the United States, bottled water was a rare commodity for starving college students 30 some odd years ago. I remember my niece Amanda, as a toddler, would tell her dad that she was thirsty. David, my brother, would offer her a cup of water and said: “Here you are Amanda, good water!” David was not in the health field, little did he know how he “sugar coated” the drink by saying “good water” so that Amanda would accept this drink more readily. But David is right, water is good for you. Here is why water is essential to good health as explained by the Mayo Clinic Staff.
How much water should you drink each day? It’s a simple question with no easy answers. Your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.
Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells, and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.
Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.
Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.
Adequate intake for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day, for women it is about 9 cups (2.2 liters). An easy way to remember is “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day.” Any type of fluid can count toward the daily total.
The following factors influence how much total fluid you need:
Exercise: engaging in active activities makes you sweat more.
Intense exercise: probably needs a sports drink that contains sodium to replace the sodium lost in the sweat.
Environment: hot or humid weather can make you sweat and drink more.
Illnesses or health conditions: when you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body needs more replenishment. If you have a history of congestive heart failure, your doctor might have given you guideline to limit your fluid intake.
Remember food provides about 20 percent of total water intake. When you calculate your fluid requirement, the type of food could add to that total count. For example, watermelon and spinach are 90 percent water by weight.
- Drink 2 cups of water after you brush your teeth before breakfast
- Drink a glass of water or other calorie-free beverage with each meal and between each meal
- Drink water before, during and after exercise
- Too much water could result in low sodium level in the blood
- Too little water could cause dehydration. One common problem with too little water intake is constipation. Constipation harbors bacteria and causes abdominal pain – not a good condition to be in.
Let us salute to good health with the good water that we have!
Your homework assignment from the Care Ministry this week: Determine when is the best time to drink your water to meet your health need.
The Care Ministry welcomes your comments/suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org