Staying hydrated is important for your health because your body needs water, or other fluids, to be able to function properly. But there isn’t an easy answer to how much water you should drink a day. It depends on many factors, including your age, health, diet and how active you are.
It’s important to remember that we consume a lot of fluid every day just from the food we eat. Many foods contain a lot of water. In fact, about a fifth of the water we consume comes from food. Some fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes or broccoli, have a water content of 90% or more.
Figures from the United States Institute of Medicine indicate that an adequate daily intake of water from food and beverages for men is about 3.7 litres a day. For women, it’s 2.7 litres and for children aged 4-8 years, it’s 1.7 litres. The United Kingdom Department of Health recommends that adults should consume 1.2 litres of fluid every day. This does not include fluid from foods.
Here are seven tips to help make sure you and your child stay hydrated:
- Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Drink fluids at regular intervals during the day.
- Water is a healthy choice for hydration, without adding calories to your diet.
- Milk is around 85% water and a good source of protein and calcium. Check the label for calories, as these will vary according to the type of milk you choose.
- Thirst is not a very good indicator of your level of hydration. By the time you feel thirsty, you’re probably already getting dehydrated.
- A more reliable indication of hydration in healthy people is the color of your urine. In general, the lighter the colour, the better hydrated you are.
- Don’t overdo it! Although unusual, it is possible to become unwell by drinking too much water or other fluids.