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Are You Drinking Enough Water?

Water may be everywhere but according to a recent survey, most of us aren't drinking our share. Nearly 10% say they drink no water at all, and 28% drink two servings per day only. Dr Barbara Levine, director of the human nutrition program at Rockefeller University in New York, talks to us about how much water is enough and the effect of mild dehydration.

The good news is that most of us know by now that we should be drinking eight-ounce servings of water per day. That's the standard, add another glass for every hour you're in an airplane. Add even more when you exercise. But the bad news is that most of us are not heeding this good advice.

Seventy percent of the human body is water. Everyday the average adult loses 10 to 12 cups of water. Drinking eight-ounce servings is just a guideline. Caffeinated soda is one of the big hydration robbers, as are iced tea and coffee drinks. However, by simply switching to decaffeinated soda, tea or coffee, you're replacing fluids, rather than robbing them. The body loses as much water while sleeping as awake.

Other sources of hydration are juices and fresh fruits. These are important for kids, who may have a low tolerance for drinking the large amounts of water they need. Drink before you're thirsty. By the time you feel the need to drink, you're already mildly dehydrated.

The symptoms of mild dehydration include mid-day grogginess, concentration loss, headache, indigestion, constipation and dry, itchy skin.

According to a survey of 2,818 Americans, conducted in 14 US cities by Yankelovich Partners for the Rockefeller University and the International Bottled Water Association, only 34% are drinking the recommended daily amount of water. Twenty eight percent drink two or fewer servings. Nearly 10% say they drink no water at all. While Americans do drink 5.6 servings of beverages such as milk juice, carbonated soda without caffeine, new age beverages and sports drinks, they also frequently consumer beverage that deplete hydration, including coffee and caffeinated sodas. Nearly half of the respondent's believe the body needs less water when the weather is cold than when it is warm. Nearly half believe the body uses less water during sleep.

Interview with Dr Barbara Levine

Water regulates body temperature, carries oxygen and nutrients, it helps with kidney function and elimination of waste. The biggest misconception about what we drink is the notion of what is good to drink for hydration. Also, that you need more water in hot weather than cold.

Since the body burns water all through the night, it's a good idea to drink a glass before going to bed and one when you rise in the morning. In fact, if you want to wake up quickly, down a glass of ice water while you're brewing your morning coffee.

Alternatives to water as hydration sources: fruits, vegetable juice, ilk, low fat and skim, and non-caffeinated soda.

We're not saying don't drink coffee, don't drink soda, don't drink alcohol. But we are saying, either switch to non-caffeinated varieties or add a glass of water for each of these beverages. Also, try sparkling water, maybe with essence of lemon or lime.

For kids, make Spritzers using juice and carbonated water, even fresh fruits: Orange, watermelon, and grapes from the freezer.

Drink before and after you exercise. And for every pound of body weight you lose during running, jogging or other extreme exertions, add 16 ounces of water.

When a medication label advises, "take with fluids" be sure to drink lots of liquid, especially with antibiotics, antihistamines. When you're ill with flu, a cold or intestinal problems, the tip is to hydrate and hydrate.

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