What Your Pee Is Telling You

Are you drinking your 8 glasses of water a day? That’s the question doctors and nutritionists used to ask when assessing fluid intake, everywhere from exam rooms to the gym. If you aren’t drinking 8 glasses of water per day, you won’t be hydrated. We all drank that advice like it was Kool-Aid. Guess what? It turns out the 8 glasses of water per day adage was a health mantra that is a little too vague. The Institute of Medicine gave us more specific guidelines in 2004 and explained that our optimal fluid intake is more individualized and complex than the 8 glasses per day recommendation. How active we are, whether we are male or female and where we live all play a role in daily fluid needs.

Notice I said “fluid” and not “water”? That’s the other difference – water-containing fluids all count. Water contained in foods – these are mostly fruits and vegetables – also counts.

So if it isn’t just water that keeps us hydrated, how do we track our fluids to be sure we are getting enough? Good news: we don’t have to feel bogged down with trying to track fluid from food and drinks because most people consume enough fluid by using thirst as their guide (don’t wait until you are thirsty, drink enough so that you don’t get thirsty).

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