Even though the feeling of thirst might diminish as adults get older, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), water plays an important role in helping the body digest food, absorb nutrients from food and then eliminate unused waste. So how much water is appropriate?
It turns out that there is no numerical recommendation, according to the CDC for drinking plain glasses of water. However, The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine (NAS) evaluated total water intake – including plain water, water consumed in other beverages and moisture in foods. It established that 3.7 liters for adult men and 2.7 liters for adult women per day of total water intake covers the expected need for most.
And for those that love their daily morning coffee, the same report noted that “there is no convincing evidence that caffeine leads to cumulative total body water deficit,” so caffeinated beverages can help to meet daily hydration needs. Of course, caffeine may come with other side effects that aren’t found in non-caffeinated beverages.
Beyond water, another factor to consider is how much salt and other electrolytes to take in. The NAS report noted that half of adults over age 60 have hypertension or high blood pressure. One method to help is to reduce salt intake and increase potassium intake by consuming many fruits and vegetables. Some examples of high potassium foods (per calorie) cited in the report include: spinach, cantaloupes, almonds, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, bananas, oranges, grapefruit, and potatoes.
The bottom line is that while water can come from many sources, the National Institute on Aging says plain water is the best way to add fluids without adding calories. For those that feel they aren’t getting enough water in, some strategies suggested by the NIA include drinking a full glass of water when taking a pill and having a glass of water before exercising. It also notes that even those with urinary control problems shouldn’t stop drinking water. A medical professional can answer any questions about water, nutrition and health while also providing personalized recommendations. It is always best to consult with them.
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