How many ounces of water a day are we supposed to consume?
That is a great question. As I mentioned in a previous consumer question response, the majority of the patients I see in the kidney stone clinic do not consume enough fluid. Their reasons are anything from “I don’t like the taste of water” and “I get too busy during the day and forget” and finally “I can’t take many bathroom breaks during the day so I can’t drink a lot.” Adequate fluid (water) consumption is one of the best ways to prevent kidney stones. Water is your body’s main chemical component, comprising approximately 60% of your total body weight. Each of your body’s major systems depend on water; it helps control your body temperature, it helps carry essential nutrients to your cells, helps flush out toxins from organs and can help keep your ear, nose, and throat moist. Dehydration can result if your body does not have enough water. So, it is important that you figure out your water goals for the day.
Water is lost through breathing, sweating, urinating and having bowel movements. The average urine output is about 1.5 L per day and you also shed an additional liter through breathing, sweating, and bowel movements. The Institute of Medicine suggests: Men = consume roughly 3.0 L (13 cups) of total beverages per day Women = consume 2.2 L (9 cups) of total beverages per day
Fluid intake should consist of water, milk, juice, sports drinks or beverages other than alcohol. For a while, some professionals did not include caffeinated beverages into one’s daily fluid intake. But, caffeine does not have the same diuretic effect on someone who is used to drinking it often, so now some professionals feel that it can be counted towards fluid goals (with a limit at ~3 cups a day). On average, food provides about 20% of total water intake. Also keep in mind that foods contain fluid as well. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can definitely contribute towards “fluid” intake.
There are many factors that influence water needs. One factor is exercise. The Mayo Clinic suggests that you consume an extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups (400 to 600 milliliters) of water for short bouts of exercise, but intense exercise lasting more than an hour (for example, running a marathon) requires more fluid intake. If you live in humid weather or at altitudes of greater than 2,500 meters, it is recommended that you increase your fluid intake. For example, I am traveling from Connecticut to Colorado in January. My doctor recommended that I consume at least three to four more cups of water than I normally do in a day to help prevent altitude sickness. In addition, my patients undergoing treatment for cancer may be at risk for dehydration. They need to be aware of the signs and symptoms which include: nausea/ vomiting, dizziness, weakness etc.