Interactive: How to stay happily hydrated

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We've heard it all before: drink 8 glasses of water a day to stay healthy. For some of us, especially those with busy schedules, that's a difficult thing to do. Not any more. Here's how to sneak more of the good stuff (namely H2O) into your daily routine.

The experts have different opinions on exactly how much fluid you should get each day. Suffice it to say that the general consensus is as follows:

 
Gender/ageRecommended cups per day (1 cup = 250 ml)
Children (up to 8 years old)5-7 cups
Girls (9-18 years old)8-9 cups
Boys (9-18 years old)10-13 cups
Women (19 years and older)6-15 cups
Men (19 years and older)12-15 cups

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According to the Canadian Health Network, caffeine (a stimulant) does not deplete your body of hydration. You can count coffee and tea as a fluid source. But do note that non-caffeinated drinks are recommended since they don't include the stimulant.

What you do need to consider is that this includes other beverages and foods you eat that contain water (like fruits and vegetables). And that can lead to a lot of confusion. The best way to know if you're getting enough? Listen to your body.

How to know if you're hydrated - or not

Guidelines and measuring cups aside, your body does send you signals about your hydration. Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. How thirsty are you? If you're properly hydrated, you should never feel thirsty. Actually, your dry mouth or throat could be the first sign that you're dehydrated.
  2. How often do you urinate? If you find that you rarely make a "pit stop" during the day, or if you only produce a small amount of urine, chances are you're not drinking enough.
  3. What colour is your urine? If you're drinking enough water, your urine should be almost clear or light yellow in colour (like lemonade). Dark-coloured urine means you need more fluids.

Quick tips to beat dehydration

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Canada's Food Guide recommends that water should be your beverage of choice but milk, fortified soy beverages and 100% juice are good secondary options.

Having hydration problems? Join the club! Most of us can use a little more water. Here's how to get more of the good stuff:

  • Drink a glass or two of water as soon as you get up in the morning.
  • Enjoy a glass of H2O with each meal.
  • At a party or club, drink a glass of water in between whatever else you may be drinking.
  • Add a splash of flavour (for example, lemon, lime or cucumber slices) to a pitcher of water.
  • Try to finish a cup on your way home from work.
  • Drink a glass when you've completed a chapter of a book or done with an online article - like this one.

When to say when

For all of water's health perks, too much of a good thing can be downright dangerous. After all, certain health conditions such as heart failure and some types of kidney and liver disease impact water retention rates and may even require that you limit fluid intake. So when it comes to determining your water intake needs, quench your thirst for knowledge with the right information - and an equal serving of common sense.

The experts have different opinions on exactly how much fluid you should get each day. Suffice it to say that the general consensus is as follows:

Gender/ageRecommended cups per day (1 cup = 250 ml)
Children (up to 8 years old)5-7 cups
Girls (9-18 years old)8-9 cups
Boys (9-18 years old)10-13 cups
Women (19 years and older)6-15 cups
Men (19 years and older)12-15 cups

 

References
  • Healthy Roads, website
  • Eat Right Ontario (Ministry of Health Promotion, Government of Ontario), website
  • Canadian Health Network, website
  • Dietitians of Canada, website
  • Canada’s Food Guide: website
  • Mayo Clinic - Hyponatremia, website
  • Mayo Clinic - Water, website

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