Is Eight Enough? Part 2

The American Dietetic Association stands by the advice that drinking at least six and preferably eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is important for good health. Food contains water, yes, ADA spokesperson Baker said, but most people still need about eight glasses of water every day.

Thirst, she said, is not a reliable guide to your need to drink more water. When you get thirsty, you are already starting to become dehydrated.”

Heres how Baker calculates the bodys total water requirement: Every 15 calories consumed requires a tablespoon of water to metabolize. The average Americans diet is 2,000 calories a day, so he or she needs 133 tablespoons of water. Two tablespoons make one fluid ounce, so it would take 62.5 ounces, a little less than eight 8-ounce glasses, to provide that much.

Exactly how much water you should drink depends on the weather and how active you are, Baker said. She agrees that other fluids such as juices and milk can contribute to the water requirement. The ADA says decaffeinated coffee and tea can count, and decaffeinated green tea is particularly good because it contains not only water, but also antioxidants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.

Among the experts, there is no disagreement over how vital water is to human life. It helps every cell in the body, Rolls wrote in Volumetrics. It helps move food through the digestive tract, carry nutrients from the gut into the blood and to the cells, and eliminate waste products. Its critical for maintaining body temperature. It lubricates joints and gives form to cells.

So is it really necessary to drink two quarts (64 ounces) of water every day to be sure your body has enough to perform those essential functions? Rolls says it isnt, particularly if you eat the way she recommends, which she notes is also the best for both nutrition and staying slimmer. Baker and the ADA say 64 ounces is about right, and they recommend taking water breaks frequently during the day, carrying a bottle of water along in the car or on a plane, and having a glass of water, tea or juice with every meal.

How can you tell if youre walking around dehydrated, as the bottled water industry and some diet experts say most of us are? Theres a simple way to check, and Rolls, Baker and virtually every authority agree on it. If your urine is pale yellow, your fluid intake is adequate. If it is very concentrated and a dark yellow color, you need to drink more water. However, Baker warned, taking large quantities of water-soluble B vitamins, much more than the recommended daily allowance, can produce the same effect.

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