Health experts say you need at least eight cups of water daily for you to have a healthy body.
Mrs Sarah Abagai, Head Dietetics Department at the National Hospital, Abuja puts it succinctly: “Eight cups of water daily is the standard for a healthy body. There are cases where people get dehydrated; you find out that they will need more water. What we are looking at for eight cups of water is a standard for a healthy body.”
Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 per cent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.
Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you do not have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you to tire.
Mrs. Abagai explains it this way. “If you take less water than you actually need, then you find out that your body retains a lot of free radicals. These are toxic metabolites that arise from the normal body metabolism.”
She highlighted the functions of water as follows. “Water is supposed to serve as a lubricant. Water stimulates bowel cleansing. Water helps in cleansing through urine. You discharge waste substance when you pass urine. The more water you drink, the more you are able to achieve these cleansing activities in the system. The lubricating effect that the body requires is made possible when you take enough water,” Mrs. Abagai explains.
However, how much water should one drink each day? It is a simple question but with no easy answer. Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years, but in truth, experts say your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.
She explains it this way. “Depending on the health status of the body, there are times you may need more or less. For instance, where there is an impairment of the kidney, the body may not be able to accommodate much water. The water intake has to be regulated according to the kidneys capacity to process water intake.”
You may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on how active you are, the climate you live in, your health status, and if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. How much additional fluid you need depends on how much you sweat during exercise, and the duration and type of exercise. During long and intense exercise, it’s best to use a sports drink that contains sodium, as this will help replace sodium lost in sweat and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening.
Also, hot or humid weather like we have in most part of Nigeria can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid.
Again, when you have fever, vomiting or diarrhoea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases, you should drink more water. Similarly, women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. Health experts’ recommends that pregnant women drink 2.3 litres (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.1 litres (about 13 cups) of fluids a day.
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