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Hydro power!
Experts turn the tide on water guidelines

» When is enough enough?

Too much of a good thing?

While many of us have trouble making sure we get enough water, it’s possible to overdo it. Drinking too much water can throw off the body’s balance of electrolytes and, in the extreme, can be deadly, causing hyponatremia, or excessively low blood sodium levels.

This rare condition occurs most often in marathon runners, endurance athletes and military recruits in basic training aiming to ward off dehydration. Experts recommend replacing the sodium and potassium lost during extreme exercise with an electrolyte-rich sports drink to prevent hyponatremia.

Your water bottle: Reuse or recycle?

Before you refill that empty water bottle, beware: Reused bottles can contain as much bacteria as lake water.

When they tested samples belonging to schoolchildren, Canadian researchers found a third of the bottles were dripping with microbes like fecal coliforms, which can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses. As gross as that sounds, the study authors note many bottles had not been washed in months. Keep your bottle clean by washing it in hot, soapy water and replace it frequently.

Do you find the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day a little hard to swallow? It’s OK to put down the water bottle. Research shows you can get enough hydration by drinking fluids other than water, including caffeinated ones.

Revised guidelines from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences up the recommended fluid intake to 91 ounces for women and 125 ounces for men but also count the water in all foods and beverages. In fact, roughly one-fifth of the water we get comes from food.

When is enough enough?

How can you tell whether you’re getting enough? According to the IOM, most healthy people meet their needs simply by letting thirst be their guide. People who work out strenuously, live in hot climates or are pregnant need more water than average as do those who are ill and must replace fluids. If you think you may not be getting enough fluids, try these suggestions to boost your hydration quotient:

  • Pump up the juice. Orange, apple, cranberry and grape juices are flavorful ways to hydrate. But be careful: They can be high in calories, too.
  • Milk it. Calcium-rich dairy products like milk and yogurt are brimming with water.
  • Go for the bubbly. Quench thirst with carbonated drinks, such as sparkling water, seltzer and diet soda.
  • Slurp some soup. A broth-based bowl of soup is a hearty way to keep hydrated.
  • Pile on the veggies. Broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini and other vegetables help up your water intake.
  • Stack sandwich fillings. Adding lettuce and tomato to sandwiches packs nutrients as well as hydration.
  • Hit the fruit bowl. Melon, oranges, grapefruit and other fruits are overflowing with water.


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