Water is necessary for life and yet is one of the most commonly neglected beverages in our culture. It is important for most bodily functions, yet many of us are mildly, chronically dehydrated or at a loss to knowing how much water we should consume and
what other beverages might count toward our daily water needs.
This confusion about water is not surprising given there wasn’t a recommendation for adequate intake of water until 2004 by the Institute of Medicine. What we do know now however is that good hydration with water is needed to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and weight gain.
It is estimated that most of us need to get 80% of our daily hydration through beverages, (mostly water), and about 20% of our hydration should come from fresh fruits and vegetables).
Through history, humans have relied on water as their primary source of hydration, having to ensure an abundant fresh water source was available was helpful for survival. Unfortunately, while this struggle still exists in many locations around the world today, in the western world, water for drinking is rarely in jeopardy, and yet many of us don't drink enough water to stay optimally healthy. Marketing in the last century has drawn us away from water consumption encouraging us to choose other, more profitable, options. We have replaced water with soft drinks to quench their thirst, and, as a result, sweetened beverages have become one of the major sources of calories in the American diet. It is suggested that the high rate of both type 2 diabetes pancreatic cancer can be linked to soft drinks. You should value water more than you do soda. Coca cola does. The average price of their bottled filtered tap water Dasani, is more than the average price of the equivalent amount of one of their sodas!
Consumption of high fructose corn syrup, the major sweetener in commercial soft drinks, increased over 1000% between 1970 and 1990, and today, half of all Americans consume soft drinks every day. In fact, these beverages now constitute the leading
source of added sugar in the average diet. To make matters worse, the calories provided by soft drinks make sugary beverages a key player in creating obesity and diabetes in our society. Limiting the number of calories you consume through soft drinks
and substituting water is better for your kidneys, pancreas, heart, and brain and will help you maintain a healthier weight.
Water consumption before a meal will also help you get full faster, resulting in a lower calorie intake. Just don't load the water with ice! Ice water will make fats more solid and harder to digest increasing your risk of gallbladder issues.
Caffeinated beverages may contribute to your daily fluid requirement. If lightly caffeinated (like green or black tea or a regular cup of coffee), there may be a mild diuretic effect, causing you to urinate more, but it should not cause a fluid loss in excess of the volume of fluid ingested. However, caffeinated drinks can cause headaches and insomnia in some people so water is still the best way to stay hydrated. It's calorie-free, caffeine-free, inexpensive and readily available.
Alcohol is dehydrating always!
So how much water should you drink per day? While most of us rely on thirst to tell us when to drink, many people have a blunted thirst mechanism so mild dehydration can occur before their body tells them they are thirsty. A healthy goal for water consumption is to divide your weight in pounds by two. Minimally that is the number of ounces of water you should drink a day. (example – if you weigh 136 lbs and divide this amount by 2, you get 68 ounces or 8.5 eight ounce glasses of water a day.)
Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity1,2. George A Bray, Samara Joy Nielsen, and Barry M Popkin, 2004 American Society of Clinical Nutrition. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/4/537.full