When patients quote their doctor
I found myself laughing the other day when a patient quoted back to me, “Water is my friend.”
I say it several times a day with a bouncy little cadence, “Water is your friend. Water is water–not pop, coffee, or tea. Water is water.”
Whether a patient is sick, well, seeking diet advice, or general well-being, the phrase makes its way into my patient interactions multiple times a day. A very simple concept but so often ignored.
Water is essential
The average person is made up of 55% water–60% in men and 50% in women. While water is found in all tissue, the bulk of the water is found in your lungs, blood, skin, muscles, brain, and bones.
Water is key in:
- brain function
- lung function
- muscle function
- bone health
- regulating body temperature
- maintaining weight
- transporting of blood containing oxygen and nutrients to all tissues
How Much should I drink?
We have probably all heard the eight cups of water a day rule. While this is a good rule, you may fall short of your body’s daily needs.
A better estimate as depicted in the graphic to the left takes weight into account. Keep in mind the fitter you are the more water you need as lean tissue contains more water than adipose tissue.
Your activity levels are also going to increase demands on water intake as well. With every 20 minutes of exercise anticipate a minimum of 6 oz of additional water intake.
Thirst is not a good indicator. If you are thirsty you are already behind on your water balance.
Your urine is another tip-off to your hydration status. It should be clear to light yellow.
Why Doesn’t Pop, Coffee, or Tea Count?
Pop(or soda), coffee, and tea are traditionally consumed with caffeine. It is the caffeine that takes them off the list as providing you any hydration. In fact, the caffeine acts as a diuretic and robs your body of essential water. Rule of thumb I tell patients is to consume an extra cup of water for every cup of caffeinated beverage or avoid them altogether.
Ann Riggs, DO
I believe that I may drink that much water in just the first half of my day.