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Expat Life

Do you really need eight glasses of water a day?

Everyone doesn’t need the same amount of calories, so why would everyone need to consume the identical amount of water? How much water is enough depends on you, and your environment.

All our biochemical reactions are dependent on water. Water is the key ingredient that keeps our bodies regular — water is necessary to form and remove waste through urination and bowel movements, through sweat and even our breath. Water is necessary to maintain blood volume, which in turn delivers oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Water is a lubricant for cells and joints, and it acts as a shock absorber and padding.

More than half of our body weight is water, which means that your weight can fluctuate significantly, especially when exercising in heat and humidity — we lose water through sweat (our built-in air conditioning system).

Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired. The color of your urine will tell you if you’re hydrated enough; a light, pale color indicates good hydration whereas deep, dark yellow can mean you need to drink more. Learn more from this infographic from the Cleveland Clinic.

Water is an excellent strategy for weight management, and studies show that drinking a glass of water before a meal can curb your appetite. Also, if you think you’re hungry, you may actually be thirsty instead. Sip some water and see how you feel.

People who exercise for more than an hour and at high altitude, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, need more fluid. As we age our thirst recognition diminishes, and we need to be vigilant and remind ourselves to drink enough fluids throughout the day. Pay attention to your thirst, and drink as soon as you’re thirsty.

How much is enough?

How much is too much? There are “fluid” requirements and “water” recommendations. Fluid requirements also include what you consume from water-filled fruits and vegetables in addition to beverages. Any fluid that doesn’t contain alcohol can “count” toward your fluid intake and coffee and tea can be included in our tally of hydrating beverages.

The water in food also adds up:  Yogurt and cottage cheese are more than 80 percent water, and some fruits are as much as 92 percent water (watermelon and strawberries) — cucumber, lettuce, celerly and squash are 95 percent water.  But sugary bottled beverages, although mostly water, are also full of calories, and most energy drinks are full of caffeine and other additives. Fruit juices are essentially fructose and water, a quick hit of calories and sugar, and I don’t recommend them.  

But sparkling water, unsweetened teas, and unsweetened almond or soy milk, or regular milk are all mostly water, without added sugars.

Here is how to calculate in cups and ounces, or in milliliters and liters: (this applies to adults)

For every pound of body weight, you need about half an ounce of fluid intake per day. If you weigh 185 lbs., multiply 185 by 0.5 to estimate your daily fluid needs in ounces, then divide by eight to estimate your fluid needs in cups per day, rounding up to the nearest full cup. For example: 185 x 0.5 = 92.5 ounces; 93 ounces divided by 8 = 11.6 cups of fluid per day, or rounded up to 12 cups.

Your weight in kilograms divided by 30 will give you the number of liters of water you should drink daily. If you weigh 60 kilos divided by 30, equals 2 liters. If you weigh 80 kilos, drink 2.6 liters, or 2 liters + 600 ml.

Can you drink too much water? Hell yes! We hear about it all too often, from high school athletes to marathon runners collapsing from an acute electrolyte imbalance from over-hydrating. According to an article published in MedicalDaily.com, “Athletes are at the greatest risk of drinking to the point of exercise-associated hyponatremia, which occurs when the kidneys become flooded by large quantities of water, unable to process the liquid efficiently. The sodium levels in the human body aren’t able to balance the amount of water, eventually leading to swelling cells and — in severe cases — death.”

Off on a tangent?  The beverage industry

Is it possible that the beverage industry is at least partly responsible for perpetuating this “more water” myth? An article in the HuffPost.com reports that internationally, 50 billion water bottles are consumed yearly, 30 billion in the USA alone. To fill one bottle of water, it takes three times that amount because of the chemical production of plastics.

Imagine that plastic water bottle with 25% of it filled with gasoline. It takes 50 million barrels of oil to pump, process, transport, and refrigerate bottled water yearly – and 80% of water bottles end up in landfills, only two in 10 are recycled.

Plastic can leach into the water it holds. Hormone-disrupting phthalates are typically present in bottled water after as little as 10 weeks of storage, and the leaching process accelerates if the bottles have been left in the sun.

A recent article in TheGuardian.com reported that researchers have found levels of plastic fibers in popular bottled water brands could be twice as high as those found in tap water. And a previous study also found high levels of microplastics in tap water — the scientists attribute contamination from microfibers to various sources including fibers shed by everyday wear and tear from carpets and clothes, and from tumble dryers that are vented to the open air and also from the 300m tons of plastic produced each year, “with just 20% recycled or incinerated, much of it ends up littering the air, land, and sea.”

Cuenca has the best public water in Ecuador and is among the best in South America. Bottled water costs more than 1,000 times tap water. More than 780 million people around the world don’t have access to safe drinking water, so let’s appreciate and use what we have.

Waterbearers distributing clean water systems to those in need.

Jane Brinton, executive director of The Waterbearers Foundation, has worked with her team, many strategic partners, and volunteers to bring clean water to (so far) more than 700,000 people in need of clean drinking water, distributing clean water systems around the world. She writes that the affordable microfilter filters that they utilize produces clean water for just pennies. They welcome more Ambassadors and volunteers to continue their mission. Read more from CuencaHighLife.com here.

Sources

ClevelandClinic.org. What the color of your urine says about you (Infographic) https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-the-color-of-your-urine-says-about-you-infographic/

CuencaHighLife.com. Cuenca not only has the best water quality in Ecuador, but the best control of its supply, the government says. https://www.cuencahighlife.com/cuenca-not-only-has-the-best-water-quality-in-ecuador-but-the-best-control-of-its-water-supply-the-government-says/

CuencaHighLife.com. The Waterbearers Foundation delivers clean water, saving and changing lives in Ecuador. https://cuencahighlife.com/the-waterbearers-foundation-saving-lives-changing-lives/

HuffPost.com. Plastic water bottles causing flood of harm to our environment. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/norm-schriever/post_5218_b_3613577.html

MayoClinic.org. Water: how much should you drink every day? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

MedicalDaily.com. How much water should you drink each day? https://www.medicaldaily.com/how-much-water-should-you-drink-each-day-4-6-glasses-ideal-researchers-say-344822

TheGuardian.com. Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/06/plastic-fibres-found-tap-water-around-world-study-reveals

TheGuardian.com. WHO launches health reviw after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/15/microplastics-found-in-more-than-90-of-bottled-water-study-says