Water: Drinking how much is enough on a daily basis?

The newest trend sweeping sunny California is people drinking untreated ‘raw’ water from unfiltered sources packed with natural ions, minerals, chemicals and organic matter. The fad will, sooner than later, wreck their health.

Along with ions and minerals, untreated water comes laced with bacteria, viruses, parasites, pesticides and heavy metals that cause nasty diarrhoea,dysentery, hepatitis A, cholera, typhoid and toxicities, among other diseases.

Just as contaminated water sickens and kills, safe water saves lives. Safe and easily available water for drinking, domestic use and food production lowers disease to boost economic growth and lower poverty, according to the World Health Organization.

Water is needed to carry nutrients to cells, moisten tissue, cushion joints, regulate body temperature and flush out toxins. Staying hydrated protects against colorectal and bladder cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, urinary tract infections and kidney stones.

Most people drink water when they’re thirsty, but in warm and humid weather, thirst is often not the best indicator of dehydration. So how much water should we drink every day?

Water accounts for 55%-60% of the body’s weight, depending on gender. Much like the human body, water is an essential component of all foods and about 20% of our daily fluid requirement comes from food. Butter and oils are the only foods with no water.

The water content is more than 90% in foods like milk and yoghurt, and in some fruits and green vegetables, such as watermelon, cucumber, cabbage, lettuce and spinach. Fruits like apples, grapes, oranges, pears and pineapple are 80% to 90% water, while beans and legumes have a water content ranging from 60% to 70%. Even dried fruits, seeds and nuts are 1% to 9% water.

A normal healthy person needs about eight glasses (two litres) of water a day, which should go up in hot, sweaty weather and during vigorous activities, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Dietary Guidelines for Indians. The tea, coffee, milk, yoghurt and whole foods you have will also help meet your hydration target, but water should be the fluid of choice.

For people in the UK, the National Health Service recommends 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day to prevent dehydration, while the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends 3.7 litres (15.5 glasses) of fluids for men and 2.7 litres (11.5 glasses) for women.

Don’t substitute water with juices, even if they’re fresh and unsweetened, because they pack a lot of sugar and calories in each glass. While fresh fruit juices do have vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, they also have very high amounts of fruit sugars, which the World Health Organisation puts in the same category as harmful free sugars, the intake of which should not exceed 25 gm a day.

A glass of fresh orange juice, for example, has 0.4 gm of fibre and 24 gm of sugar, compared to 1.5 gm of fibre and 10 gm of sugar in one whole orange. The sugar in a glass of fresh, unsweetened orange juice (24 gm) is almost the same as in a glass of the colas (26 gm).

Coconut water contains potassium, which helps fight dehydration by increasing the body’s capacity to absorb and retain water and is particularly useful to hydrate people who are ill or very active. But since a 250 ml glass has 50 calories, using it as a substitute for zero-calorie water leads to weight gain.

Dry and scaly skin, frequent muscle cramps and constipation are signs that you’re dehydrated, so watch out for signs now that the hot, wet weather will make seat a part of life in most part of the country.

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