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FOOD FACTS: How Much Water Do You Need To Drink?

Are you thirsty? Hot? Using a low-calorie beverage instead of food to fill you up?

Jane E. Brody, health writer for the New York Times, provides a bucket full of facts in this week’s Personal Health column.

  • Dehydration can produce symptoms from fatigue and irritability to headache and muscle cramps.
  • How much water do you need each day? Multiply your weight (pounds) by .08; the result is your requirement in eight-ounce cups. But, before 200-pound folks panic about having to drink 16 cups of water per day, note that about half of one’s daily requirement can come from fruits, vegetables, soup and other high-water-content foods.
  • Dry air, whether air conditioning or heating, increases the body’s needs for water.
  • So does sugar. Aim for unsweetened thirst-quenchers or drinks with sugar substitutes. Many of today’s most popular bottled drinks are loaded with sugar and HFCS that increase the body’s need for water.
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    Hydrate with something satisfying, yet
    sugar-free. Photo by Naheed Choudhry | THE NIBBLE.

     

  • Sugar-sweetened sodas are the single largest source of calories in the American diet (7.1%). Yet, they provide no nutrition and, aside from the water content, no value to the body.
  • Flavored bottled waters sweetened with sugar may carry healthy-sounding labels like “antioxidant,” “green tea” and “vitamin.” But check the label: How many calories of sugar are there that counter the “healthy” claims?
  • While caffeine is a mild diuretic that causes the body to expel water (via trips to the bathroom), coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages do count toward one’s daily liquid intake. However, they contribute to a lesser extent than water. We don’t have an exact formula, but assume 50%.
  • Alcohol increases the body’s need for water. Our trick: For every beer, cocktail or glass of wine, drink a glass of water.
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    And take a look at David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding’s book, Drink This, Not That. You’ll be floored by the number of calories in popular brands of smoothies, lattes and other harmless-sounding beverages.

      




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