How much water is enough?
Last week I talked about how important kidneys are and how they work. I said I believe the 3 best things we can do for kidney health is to drink plenty of water, control our blood pressure, and exercise. I said these things because our kidneys need hydration and blood flow.
But how much water is the right amount? For infants under 6 months of age, water can be dangerous and cause electrolyte imbalances. Breast milk provides all the water an infant needs. If breastfeeding is not possible, formula (if mixed properly) should generally provide all the hydration an infant needs. Once an infant starts eating after the age of 6 months, 4-8 ounces of water per day is appropriate with table food. After the age of 1, 8-32 ounces per day is appropriate, and from ages 2-5 around 8-40 ounces is appropriate. The wide range is based on how much the child is eating and how active he/she is.
Adults should drink ½ to 1oz of water per pound of bodyweight, which equates to around 100oz for men and 72 oz for women of healthy weight. This is a guideline. If you are a heavier person, you may need more, and if you are a small person, you may need less. Need also changes based on activity level. If you’re a roofer in the Southern summer sun, for example, you need a lot more water. If you’re working from an air-conditioned desk all day sitting, you likely need less.
“But Debi,” you say, “there is NOOOO way I can drink that much water!!!” Start small if you historically don’t drink much water. Start out with a 16oz glass (avoid plastics) of water for your first meal of the day. Then have another 16oz glass of water with lunch and again with supper. You’re over halfway there!!!
“I don’t know how to drink water without flavoring!” you say? Try cutting up a lemon or cucumber or lime and putting it into your water. But make sure you scrub your produce first and try to get organic when possible. Avoid artificial flavorings. Natural is generally best. If you are unable to drink the water at your home, try to experiment with various spring waters, which oftentimes have great flavors due to the high electrolytes. If you drink filtered water, make sure you’re eating extra fruits and vegetables to get the minerals that are often filtered out of water. If you have a limited diet, consider a daily multivitamin with minerals.
Next time I’ll talk about blood pressure and kidney health.