Skill Introduction – More Water, Less Sugar
Your “thirst center” is located in an almond shaped portion of your brain known as the hypothalamus. Besides regulating thirst, the hypothalamus is responsible for body temperature regulation, sleep and appetite. Sensors in blood vessels monitor blood volume and pressure and tell the hypothalamus that we need to drink more water when blood volume or pressure falls too low (1).
Approximately 70% of our body weight can be credited to H20. Among other duties, water is responsible for carrying nutrients throughout the body, washing wastes out of the body, maintaining body temperature and protecting the spinal cord.
In general, daily fluid needs are:
3.7 liters (15.5 cups) for men
2.7 liters (11.5 cups) for women
Keep in mind that total fluid needs are met through beverages and food and that food usually accounts for 20% of our fluid consumption (2). Eight glasses (eight ounces each) per day is a good blanket recommendation for the general population, but you might need more or less depending on your health, climate, physical activity level and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You are probably getting enough fluid if you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colorless or light yellow (2). Your doctor or Registered Dietitian can help you better assess your hydration status.
While most of us get enough fluid from drink and food each day, unfortunately much of our fluid intake is met through drinks containing sugar, which is detrimental to our health.
Sugar containing drinks are the leading source of sugar in the American diet (3). Sugar affects your brain, your skin, gastrointestinal track, sleep and energy and “paralyzes” the immune system for hours after it is ingested, making it harder to ward off bacterial and viral invaders. Sugar consumption is associated with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and gout (3).
- 63% of youth and 49% of adults drank a sugar sweetened beverage every day between 2011 and 2014 (3).
- A 12 oz can of soda pop contains 39 grams of sugar (around 10 teaspoons or 10 sugar packets). Some sports drinks can contain almost as much sugar as soda pop.
- Smoking, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, frequent fast food intake, lack of fruit and vegetable consumption and increased screen time are considered risk factors for a high sugar containing beverage intake (3).
With our increasingly busy lifestyles, much of the fluid we consume is in convenient grab-and-go plastic bottles. Plastic bottles have taken their toll on our environment and aren’t an eco-friendly solution. So much plastic is landing in the ocean, in fact, that by 2050 there may be more plastic waste in the ocean than fish. This plastic ends up inside the stomachs of seafood.
Dig Deeper and Learn More:
- (1) Brainfacts.org, The neural regulation of thirst, Accessed November 5th, 2018 <http://www.brainfacts.org/Archives/2008/The-Neural-Regulation-of-Thirst.
- (2) Mayo Clinic, Water: how much should you drink every day? Accessed November 5th, 2018 http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
- (3) Centers for Disease Control, Get the facts: sugar sweetened beverages and consumption, Accessed November 5th, 2018 <https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/sugar-sweetened-beverages-intake.html>
- (4) Forbes, We’re now at a million plastic bottles per minute – 91% of which are not recycled, Accessed November 5th, 2018 <https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2017/07/26/million-plastic-bottles-minute-91-not-recycled/#18cd5d14292c>
- (5). Get Green Now, the environmental impact of plastic straws – facts, statistics & infograph, Accessed November 5th, 2018 < https://get-green-now.com/environmental-impact-plastic-straws/>